WASHINGTON – In response to new guidance from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) regarding returning federal workers to in-person worksites, American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) National President Everett Kelley issued the following statement:
“OMB’s recognition that telework’s merits must be appreciated apart from concerns about COVID is appropriate. This shift in perspective will be helpful as agencies and their employees evaluate the work arrangements that will be most effective in achieving their missions.
“As agencies embark on this effort, we must not forget that federal employees show up to work for the American people every day – whether at a government office or remotely. Indeed, during the worst days of the pandemic, continuity of government operations was only possible thanks to the widespread expansion of telework that allowed civil servants to get the job done no matter where they were located.
“When you ask federal employees, they say that increased telework flexibility has helped their agencies in numerous ways. In a recent survey of AFGE members, rank-and-file government employees were clear: 87.5% of respondents said telework had improved productivity, and over half said cuts to telework would hurt customer service and increase agency backlogs.
“As with any change to working conditions, the voices and concerns of the employees directly affected deserve to be heard through the collective bargaining process. We look forward to continuing to participate in that process at the appropriate level and reaching agreements that meet the operational needs of federal agencies while protecting productivity gains associated with telework as well as the ability to recruit and retain the next generation of government employees in a competitive labor market."