VA Restores AFGE Contract, Official Time for Most Employees

Categories: VA, The Insider

More good news for VA employees came in a letter from the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Labor Management Relations to AFGE National Veterans Affairs Council (NVAC) President Alma Lee.  

According to the letter, dated March 26, 2021, the VA is taking steps to comply with President Biden’s Executive Order 14003, rescinding the previous administration's anti-worker, anti-union directives.  

Thanks to the hard work of AFGE members over a years-long fight, the VA will reverse course and recognize the AFGE/VA collective bargaining agreement dated March 15, 2011 as the current contract, which will remain in place until a new contract is agreed upon by the union and the agency.   

AFGE and the VA are currently under contract negotiations after our union membership voted overwhelmingly against ratifying a partial tentative agreement late last year. Years of bad faith bargaining from the VA had resulted in the anti-worker contract proposals imposed by the Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP). 

But that’s not all the VA is doing to repair the relationship between management and workers at the agency. 

5 actions VA is taking to comply with Biden’s executive order:  

  • Recognizing AFGE/VA collective bargaining agreement dated March 15, 2011 as the current contract  
  • Restoring official time levels for Title 5 and hybrid Title 38 union officials to carry on their representational duties per the current contract and other agreements 
  • Granting union officials their office spaces back free of charge (either the same space or a comparable space) 
  • Supplying the union with government email accounts and equipment consistent with agreements 
  • Reissuing union officials parking spaces consistent with agreements. 

Continuing the fight for Title 38 employees 

Despite the many positive steps the VA has taken to restore workers’ union rights, the agency still has not fully rolled back unilateral changes made by Secretary Wilkie in 2018 that stripped official time away from Title 38 employees.  

AFGE is continuing our fight to make sure that our members at the VA are made fully whole, on paper and in practice. This includes workers’ right to choose their own representatives and have access to that representative at the worksite – regardless of that representative’s classification. 

 “The recent changes are a major win for VA employees recovering from the anti-worker and anti-union attacks we've suffered over the last few years,” said AFGE President Everett Kelley. “We have been fighting the agency for years as it has tried to impose an anti-worker contract on hundreds of thousands of VA workers. This is a positive step in the right direction that shows the administration is serious about bargaining a fair contract in good faith. But we won’t stop fighting until our members and our union are made whole and every anti-worker, anti-union policy of the previous administration is relegated to the history books.”  

AFGE continues to advocate for the health, safety, and collective bargaining rights of VA workers in the wake of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.   

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