Under the AFGE agreement, VA facilitators must identify an employee`s performance deficiencies and develop a performance improvement plan (PIP) with the employee and a local union representative. The PIP should take specific steps that the worker should take to improve and provide other provisions for the continuation of advice or specific training. Union officials say the proposed agreement has offered significant safeguards under the current agreement, which includes about 250,000 employees in the agency. According to the agreement, PIPs should give staff “an appropriate possibility of at least 90 calendar days” in order to resolve specific performance-related problems identified. During this period, employees and their superiors should maintain constant communication. “The VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act explicitly states that proceedings involving withdrawals, downgrades or suspensions of more than 15 working days will succeed all collective agreements that are inconsistent with the procedures outlined in the new law,” said ministry spokesman Curt Cashour, when asked about discrepancies between VA`s current practice and the AFGE`s executive contract. 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. 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. 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. Indeed, the Accountability Act finds that its provisions “succeed any collective agreement to the extent that such an agreement is incompatible with the new law.” 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. AfGE, which represents more than 220,000 VA employees, said the department`s new performance board was at odds with the collective agreement it had already signed with the agency in 2011.
The AfGE is also ready to bring this fight to the negotiating table. VA had informed AFGE in December of its intention to reopen and renegotiate its current collective agreement. Both sides were currently discussing the rules of the game, McQuiston said. The body removed several articles from the agreement and removed others, said Ibidun Roberts, who represents NVAC. 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. AFGE`s main agreement with VA explains how both parties have agreed to measure staff performance and to ask workers to meet these standards. David Bump, AFGE`s vice president for VBA in Portland, Oregon, referred to the Education Department`s recent decision to end negotiations and implement its own terms, without the union`s approval. 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.