AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES
325 MCDONNELL BLVD., MAILCODE 3064295
HAZELWOOD, MO. 63042-2598
Telephone: (314) 233-3752 Fax: (314) 233-6648
May 13, 2002
Here is some news: Last week we had mid-term bargaining in the St. Louis area. Bob McCarthy, Steve Schwartzberg and I represented the Union. We discussed the Supervisory Development Issue. This issue is now at the Federal Mediation Stage. The next mid-term session is scheduled for the week of June 3rd in Irving, TX. Bob and Steve will again represent the Union. Pat Faul, Vice President of Special Projects, will once again replace me for that week. Current mid-term bargaining subjects are:
1. Supervisory Development Program
Management wants to eventually have all promotions done in this manner. Initially, Management would have two separate pools of employees to select from. They would have the normal competitive pool and a separate pool of employees "groomed" for the position (Supervisory Development employees). Since Management wants to require people to pass the CPA exam, our current proposal requires Management to give people 240 hours of administrative leave to study for the exam, 40 admin hours to study for, 24 admin hours to take the exam, and up to 16 admin hours for travel time to and from the CPA exam site. This issue is the first on the table for the next mid-term session at the Federal Mediation Service in Irving, TX.
The Union issued a reopener based on a change in law that requires agencies to make 50% of employees "eligible" for Flexiplace participation by April 1, 2002. We want to open up Flexiplace for Resident Offices. Management wants to have an "ad hoc" program where they get to decide who gets to participate. This way Management can report to Congress that all employees are "eligible" and thus meet the requirements of the new law. This is the next issue for negotiation after the Supervisory Development Program.
3. Use of Government Office Equipment-Personal E-mail
On May 9th, DCAA Headquarters issued another message on this issue. This message outlined the prohibited uses of Government office equipment. The message was incorrect about one item. In the DCAA Central Region we can still access personal e-mail accounts based on our previous agreement. I have asked Management to issue a statement retracting that portion of the memo. Let me know if Management tries to put a stop to you accessing your personal e-mail accounts.
4. Team Awards
We are going to look at "tweaking" the current agreement. We believe that all teams that "substantially meet" team goals should receive Team Awards. Our position in contract negotiations is to greatly increase individual performance awards and thus greatly diminish team awards. We believe team awards, as currently practiced, are divisive to a cooperative atmosphere, at least within an individual office.
5. Relocation/Referral Bonuses
The Union used one of our two annual reopeners to propose this issue. We recently negotiated and agreed on a Management initiative on Recruitment Bonuses. We feel current unit employees should be rewarded for getting someone to come to work for DCAA as well as moving from over-strength to under-strength areas.
Management wants to be able to access all audit files and documents that are "official records." Theoretically, all DCAA employees would be able to access your workpaper files at anytime. This is a recent addition and we don't know much about this issue.
7. Child Care Agreement-Pilot Program Review and Expansion
The 8-month DFW pilot program called for a review after 6 months of the program (April 1, 2002). This is the DoD based program. The DoD program requires eligible child care providers to be NAEYC accredited. This is a steep "hoop" to jump through. That is the main reason there is currently only 1 participant in the DFW pilot program. However, we want expansion to the rest of the region. We will work concurrently on an OPM based program.
8. Agency proposed changes to Zero Based Budgeting
Management wants supervisors to have the "flexibility" to do away with zero based budgeting for assignments of 40 hours or less. The Union filed a demand to bargain over this issue. I believe this is just another way for Management to lower the number of hours on audit assignments. The Supervisor would have the sole discretion to decide which assignments merit the 40 hour or less designation. Management alleges the Union is standing in the way of progress and "greater efficiencies." What do you think? Do you think it's a good idea to have supervisors decide whether or not to have zero based budgeting techniques on particular assignments? Do you think it's a good idea to do away with zero based budgeting techniques on all assignments of 40 hours or less?
9. Payment of expenses to obtain professional credentials and payment of Federal Health Program Premiums for certain Reservists.
These items are allowable under changes authorized by Public Law 107-107. The Union requested a contract reopener under the auspices of Article 42.03 A. of our agreement. Management refused to bargain stating that they didn't fall under 42.03 A. and that we had already used the 2 reopeners allowed in 42.03 B. On April 30th, I filed an Institutional Grievance over these issues. Thus, we won't be negotiating these issues unless we win this grievance. The Arbitrator would have to rule that bargaining was required.
The Professional Credentials issue allows Management to pay for expenses to obtain credentials as well as licenses to maintain them. The Reservist issue allows Management to pay health insurance premiums for reservists called to active duty for more than 30 consecutive days in support of a "contingency" operation such as Afghanistan.
Child Care Issue
Last week, in the St. Louis area, we had mediation on this issue. This was based on the OPM based Child Care program. There was a recent change in law that makes the program permanent. This program allows employees to use any "licensed" child care provider, including home based providers. I sent a notice to the Federal Service Impasses Panel invoking Impasse Panel procedures.
These negotiations were at the Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP) stage. However, Management alleged that 39 of the Union's proposals were non-negotiable. The Union appealed the negotiability issue to the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA). Management withdrew their Impasse Panel request as the Panel said they would not assert jurisdiction until the exhaustion of the negotiability appeal process. These procedures usually take at least 1 ½ years. However, there is an Alternate Dispute Resolution Process the FLRA uses to try and resolve issues before they go to the full FLRA. Union and Management are currently exploring this option. Meanwhile, we still work under the provisions of the expired agreement (orange book).
We have several issues that are either at the arbitration stage or soon will be. I believe Bart Dubinsky, the Labor Relations Officer, has been stalling on most of these issues.
1. CPE Training issue
Management unilaterally decided to change the way CPE hours are credited. They decided to drop fractional hours and only credit whole hours. They also disallow previously allowable subjects for CPE certification.
2. 2001 Computer Buy
The parties have an August 2001 agreement. Management agreed to buy a total of 494 computers and if they bought less than that amount, they would negotiate with the Union over the differences. They did not negotiate. We also allege that Management did not give proper notification to the Union over changes resulting in the upgrade to Windows 2000.
3. Code 236 and 280 assignments.
Management unilaterally changed the policy on these assignments by mandating a maximum number of hours employees may charge to these assignments.
4. CCH Online Service issue
The Union lost this issue at arbitration. However, the arbitrator ruled that he had no authority to resolve Unfair Labor Practice issues. The Union appealed the decision and the FLRA remanded the issue back to the arbitrator for resolution.
5. Team Awards
The Union filed an institutional grievance over this issue. We believe the current Team Award agreement requires Management to grant Team Awards to all teams who "substantially meet" team goals. In some cases RAMs overruled FAO managers' recommendations and granted awards to different teams. We think that violates the agreement.
6. Individual grievances
We have about 5 individual grievances, some of which are more than two years old. These include a suspension, performance appraisal issues, and changes in working conditions that affected individuals or one office.
Eight employees joined the Union based on my recent mailing to non-dues paying members. That will more than pay for the costs of the mailing. It's probably a good idea to do that once a year. We are still paying $50 for you to sign up new members. We welcome the following new members who have joined since March 1st:
Kirk Bell Margaret King
Kellye Daigle Eden Lamb
James Fisher Rosario Martinez
John Furutani Michael Nichols
Lawrence Hoffman Vij Storrs
Last November, the San Francisco FLRA office certified the election in the DCAA Western Region. AFGE internal rules call for the National Vice President of a District to charter Locals in that district. Eugene Hudson, NVP for the AFGE 12th District (California), wants DCAA employees to join 3 existing non-DCAA Locals in the California area. I think this is ridiculous and have written 4 letters to AFGE National President Bobby Harnage about this problem. Three days ago, I was assured by Harnage's secretary that Harnage will issue an order which requires one Local for the entire Western Region. We sent several mailings to Western Region employees.
As soon as I get written assurance that one Local will be established, I will send out one last mailing including 1187s for people to join AFGE.
On March 27, 2002, the Boston FLRA office certified the successful election in the DCAA Mid-Atlantic region. The vote was 274 Yes to 65 No. In contrast to the Western Region situation, the AFGE 3rd District NVP Jeffery Williams had no problem setting up one Local for the Mid-Atlantic Region. Mike Neilsen, a former DCAA Central Region Union official, agreed to be the interim Chief Steward. I sent a letter to Mid-Atlantic folks last month with 1187s etc. attached. So far 56 people have signed up. This is a pretty good start for them.
Last week I sent another letter to the Eastern Region employees seeking showing of interest cards. As you may recall, I have to get at least a 30% showing of interest from employees before the FLRA will order an election. I received 111 showing of interest cards based on my first letter. So far, I have received an additional 10 cards based on last week's letter. I need around 170 total.
Assuming a successful Eastern Region campaign, I plan to seek a nation-wide bargaining unit. Then, DCAA Headquarters would have to negotiate a nation-wide contract and would have to negotiate changes in working conditions.
Union Financial Information
In my last letter I requested a vote on the budget etc. The vote was 26 yes and 0 no.
I still plan on putting out some proposed bylaws changes. That currently requires a U.S. Mail procedure. This year is a Union election year and I believe our Local should use procedures form the AFGE Election Manual for the election process. These procedures are similar to those used by the FLRA in certification elections. These procedures ensure both secrecy and that only eligible voters get to vote. I will get out these proposed changes within the few weeks.
AFGE 9th District Caucus
We recently switched from the AFGE 7th District to the AFGE 9th District. The AFGE General Counsel's office required the switch when they learned the Union President's office was located in Hazelwood, MO. The 9th District covers Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma. I attended the 9th District caucus on May 11, 2002 in Springfield, MO. The results were that Michael Kelly was reelected to another 3 year term as AFGE National Vice-President for the 9th District. Mary Love ran against him. The vote was 11,300 for Kelly and 925 for Love. We had 107 votes. This represented our membership strength as of a certain date. There were 43 Union Locals represented at the caucus.
AFGE Local 3529