Tom Temin: Normally, one of the questions is how long the agreement will be in place. Is that something you don`t agree with? Ibidun Roberts: So what we`re looking for in the treaty is really the procedures, right? You can`t negotiate the law itself. Congress has deemed this law appropriate, so we can only carry out the procedure. For example, the law reduced the time it takes employees to take action to 15 days. Therefore, as soon as the VA submits a deportation proposal to a staff member, it has seven days to respond to this proposal. And then, within a fortnight, eight days after its response, the VA must make a decision. This really reduces the time that the union can look for evidence to help and actually give the answer to that employee. To meet with the employee, gather evidence and formulate a response. It`s really too insensible. And if you add that the union is not in the facility now, I`m sure we`ll get there, it makes it a lot harder to meet an employee to meet a move, a big upheaval in their lives.
That is what we want to see in the agreement. We want the procedures to allow workers to meet with the union, give them time to do so and allow the employee to participate when that meeting is scheduled for response, instead of management setting their own appointment, which could be the next day or two days later, if the employee may not have had the opportunity to do so yet. to formulate his answer. So we want to have formal procedures in the agreement. AFGE filed with FSIP on June 3, arguing that the Department of Veterans Affairs had proposed significant changes to its collective agreement with the union and then refused to negotiate in good faith with AFGE representatives for counter-proposals substantially similar to those of the current agreement. Tom Temin: Give us an idea of the situation in which the whole treaty is in terms of the timing and expiration of the existing treaty. Ibidun Roberts: Oh yes. The VA is therefore seeking a ten-year contract.
We are looking for the traditional three-year contract. There are many reasons for this. One of them is that other unions can challenge our certification after three years, but changes are happening as well. And if these changes happen, we want to be able to open the agreements and accept those changes. And this is especially true for the VA, which has had a number of changes. For example, the Accountability Act is an important change that we want to include in the agreement. Another is President Trump`s executive orders, if we had a 10-year agreement, we would not be able to get changes, like the ones I just mentioned. A shorter term is better than a 10-year term. Collective bargaining between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the American Federation of Government Employees has stalled for more than a year, and the COVID-19 pandemic, which has closed parts of the country and increased workload and risk to health care professionals, has only exacerbated differences between management and unions over the best administration of the confederation.
Ibidun Roberts: That`s right. It is the master contract, the locals get certain arrangements to negotiate on the ground. But it is for the general concepts on which we agree at the national level. Some of the bargaining positions set by the VA stem from the requirements set out by three executive orders signed by President Donald Trump in May 2018: reduce the official time for union representatives, remove union representatives from agency offices and renegotiate collective agreements to meet those priorities.