However, union officials say the proposed agreement deprives us of important safeguards offered under the current agreement, which covers about 250,000 Agency workers. Finally, the decision reduced the time the union has to meet with and represent the workers by setting a limit of 0.65 hours per unit of tariff. That`s less than the one-hour cap per unit`s bargaining agency board employee in Trumps 2018 executive order centered on the official time. In accordance with the FSIP decision, official time cannot be used for claims either. The Department of Veterans Affairs proposed a new collective agreement with the American Federation of Government Employees on May 2, one that agency officials say will improve medical care, customer service and employee responsibility. NVAC submitted an application to the Federal Labor Relations Authority, the parent authority of the FSIP, to stay the decision until the pending appeals concerning several articles of the agreement and the constitutionality of the appointment of FSIP members are clarified. In May 2018, President Donald Trump issued three executive orders that changed the collective treatment and bargaining of federal employees, implying that union representatives spend at least 75% of their time on acting rather than on official time. The body removed several articles from the agreement and removed others, said Ibidun Roberts, who represents NVAC. The new agreement would also strengthen front-line superiors, streamline the recruitment and training process, and ensure that the agreement does not encroach on agency modernization laws, according to the VA press release. According to a VA press release, the new collective agreement would reduce the official use of time in the agency from about 1 million hours per year to 10,000 hours of official time, a 99 percent reduction. “It`s time to reset Va`s approach to labour management relationships. The reluctance to challenge the status quo has led to the current agreement, which has many benefits that favour the union, not the veterans we are supposed to serve,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in the press release. The current collective agreement between AFGE and the VA has been in place since 2011 and the union and the agency must now begin negotiations on the proposed new contract.
The Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP), made up of 10 presidents appointed to resolve deadlocks in agency union negotiations, significantly changed the agreement in its November 5 ruling, allegedly to bring the labor contract into compliance with several executive orders of the Trump administration, which brings in federal staff. Under the Trump administration, the VA has been aggressive in trying to reduce the official time and decided in November 2018 that some of the authority`s medical staff should not use that time. This rule was brought to court by AFGE shortly after its introduction. However, according to AFGE, the proposal removes a total or part of 42 articles in areas such as staff training, occupational health and safety, and protection from retaliation against whistleblowers. AFGE is currently awaiting a decision that should come “every day now,” Roberts said. The FSIP has also recovered the ability of employees to challenge performance-related measures, including their ability to challenge the rewards of the appeal process, Roberts said. Substantial portions of these orders were overturned by a district court judge in August of that year, but the administration appealed that decision.