The panel ruled on more than a dozen collective bargaining proposals and largely adhered to the changes proposed by HHS in its existing agreement with the union. This decision laid down the necessary conditions for the implementation of new telework strategies, holidays and official schedules, which the union never technically accepted. AFGE, for example, is in the midst of negotiations with the departments of housing and urban development and veterans affairs, two of the union`s largest bargaining units. Cann said the HHS-NTEU negotiations would probably serve as a precedent. Tim Whitehouse, Executive Director of Employees for Environmental Responsibility and former EPO General Counsel, said the proposal reflected unilateral proposals for collective bargaining that would be introduced in other agencies where „there are no negotiations, only ultimatums.“ EPA Senior Labor Attorney Robert Coomber, in an email sent June 24 to Agency and AFGE officials, said the agency had tried unsuccessfully to bring AFGE to the negotiating table to negotiate a new master collective agreement for more than a year. But AFGE Local 238 officials disagreed with the scale of the negotiations and added that the agency wanted to „increase the number of items to be reopened“ for discussion. Negotiations on the new MCBA date back to 2010, including years of back-and-forth, failed ratifications, refusals to negotiate, accusations of unfair labour practices, settlement agreements and a pandemic. Meanwhile, a mediator helps both parties who are still negotiating a small number of articles that were not part of the panel`s decision. The federal association of federal officials said it was close to reaching a new agreement with VA.
In other parts of the SSA, the outcome of the negotiations remains mixed. „The government will take over collective bargaining to enforce illegal rules that will make it more difficult for EPO employees to work,“ said Gary Morton, President of AFGE Council 238. „We will do everything in our power to fight this injustice and protect EPA staff from these gratuitous violations of their rights and jobs.“ Perhaps above all, the arbitrator said HHS intentionally and prematurely completed negotiations with NTEU before discussing the majority of the negotiating proposals. HhS had already declared a deadlock in August. And AFGE Council 220, which represents employees in the SSA sector and regional offices, asked Congress to review the collective agreement signed by the Agency at the end of September. AFGE asserts that it was „obliged“ to accept the contract or to face more damaging conditions under the Executive Orders of the President. These labor disputes stem from several important provisions of three executive orders signed by President Donald Trump in May. A federal district judge repealed nine important provisions in these executive orders, but agencies continued to put forward proposals that would limit telework and working hours, as well as union use of offices.