In October and November, the EU and the Agency agreed on Articles 3 (workers` rights), 16 (training) and 31 (leave). It is important that the Union has retained the language in Article 3, Section 2.A, which obliges management to treat workers fairly and equitably in all aspects of personnel management, regardless of protected class status. When the parties focused on Article 9 in November, the Agency abruptly changed its attitude towards the Union. Despite the progress made by the parties in October and November, the Agency stated that the Union was not acting quickly enough. The UNION replied that the basic rules gave the parties to the negotiations until 1 March 2019 and that the parties had just agreed on three articles, in addition to many articles in the previous months. Apart from this, the Agency did not show any interest in the Union`s proposals the rest of the week and asked the Ombudsman to release the parties to the Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP). The EU rejected this request on the basis of the Agency`s basic rules and negotiating behaviour. In addition, the collective agreement allows the union to file complaints about disputes related to an employee`s performance assessment or other matters – another activity that would have prevented the president from making personnel decisions. The new agreement gives a bank 125,000 hours of official time – half the official time afGE bank representatives had under the previous contract, but 75,000 hours more than what gave the deadlock in its recent decision. “The commitment and commitment of all those involved in these difficult negotiations was the reason an agreement was reached,” Richard Giacolone, head of the agency and president-elect for the position of director of the FMCS, said in a statement on Monday. “This resolution is proof of the power of good faith negotiations, where both sides are ready to come to the negotiating table, put aside their differences and work towards a mutual agreement that respects the interests of both sides. I commend the leaders of the SSA and AFGE for their commitment to resolving these difficult issues in a spirit of constructive engagement.
The agreement allows 20 union representatives to use no more than 840 hours of official time per year, meaning that these workers spend about 40% of their time on union activities and the remaining 60% can perform the tasks for which they were originally recruited. “The new contract reflects the agency`s public service priority and will take effect on October 27,” a SSA spokeswoman said in a statement to the Federal News Network. “The Agency thanks both AFGE`s negotiating teams and Social Security for the months of effort they have made and for the success they have achieved in reaching the new agreement.” In the end, the union was faced with a decision: drop all ongoing litigation regarding the SSA`s bargaining contract, which included two lawsuits and nine complaints, and negotiate with the Agency – or have the panel resolve the deadlock on the remaining articles of the existing AFGE contract.