(WASHINGTON) – The American Federation of Government Employees today applauded the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs for yesterday passing Senate Bill 572, aimed at restoring the collective bargaining rights of VA medical professionals under Title 38. This legislation will allow VA clinicians to exercise the same rights to bargain over routine pay matters, as other federal employees are allowed, and hold the agency accountable for its own pay regulations.
“The Committee’s approval of this bill sends a strong and clear message that the VA must abide by its own pay laws. It ensures that nurses working overtime and weekends, physicians promised incentive pay for coming on board with the VA, and other medical professionals will have recourse when the VA does not pay them fairly,” said AFGE National Secretary-Treasurer J. David Cox who recently testified before the Committee on this bill. “For nearly a decade VA management has been using a loophole in the current law to deprive Title 38 clinicians the ability to collectively bargain over routine pay matters; S. 572 rectifies this problem.”
AFGE and its National VA Council (NVAC) represent more than 200,000 employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs and have strongly supported this legislation because it provides medical professionals with a voice at work as it relates to compensation matters. Many of these employees are negatively impacted by the agency’s current overly broad interpretation of Section 7422 of Title 38, prohibiting their right to bargain over routine pay matters, a right afforded to their counterparts within the VA, the Department of Defense and the Bureau of Prisons.
“Health care professionals within the VA, on the front lines of veteran patient care, deserve fair pay policies and the right to hold management accountable for its abuses of power,” said AFGE NVAC President Alma Lee. “We are pleased with the Committee’s passage of S.572 and will continue to advocate for its support in the full Senate.”
AFGE thanks Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) for introducing S. 572 and Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) for her leadership in getting this important legislation passed out of the Committee.