WASHINGTON – Today, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) AFL-CIO, which represents more than 700 employees at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is calling on OPM to work with the union ensure a safe reopening of OPM offices.
OPM Director Kiran Ahuja notified employees that they would be returning to offices on April 25, however, AFGE Local 32 officers state that the agency has failed to properly bargain the reopening and have failed to address the union’s health and safety concerns. As a result, AFGE Local 32 has filed 13 unfair labor practice complaints against the agency.
“Recently, our union applauded OPM’s guidance encouraging agencies to collectively bargain with the union, so it is troubling to hear that OPM leadership is not addressing the workplace concerns of our members,” said AFGE National President Everett Kelley. “The federal government should be a model employer, and OPM should serve as the model agency within the federal government. We have worked with agencies throughout the pandemic to find creative solutions to ensure our government continues delivering for the American people, and we are ready to do so now. But we have consistently stated that these issues must be bargained in good faith with our union so solutions incorporate feedback from rank-and-file employees.”
In addition to OPM’s failure to negotiate with the local union, AFGE Local 32 leaders say there are workplace and logistical issues that must be addressed before any return to physical worksites, including a lack of running water in parts of the building, no food source for employees, inadequate parking, no plans for social distancing, and lack of available workstations.
“OPM has set an arbitrary date for employees to return to physical worksites and refuses to budge, despite our numerous health and safety concerns,” said AFGE Local 32 President Marlo Bryant-Cunningham. “Throughout the pandemic, OPM leaders repeatedly told workers that productivity improved significantly while employees worked remotely. Employees are telling our union they do not understand the rush to bring them back to an unsafe working environment and a pre-pandemic schedule when productivity has improved under expanded telework.”