AFGE Council 238 Letter to EPA Administrator Janet McCabe

On Tuesday, March 19, AFGE Council 238, the largest EPA union representing more than 9,500 workers, sent an urgent letter to EPA Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe calling on her to ensure a fair bargaining process as they negotiate a new contract with the Agency. 

AFGE Council 238 President Marie Owens Powell and Lead Negotiator Joyce Howell sent the letter outlining a severe roadblock in bargaining that is holding up the process and threatening EPA workers’ rights to be protected under a union contract. They write:

“AFGE has been bargaining with the Agency for almost two years. Over that time, the parties have successfully navigated through many difficult roadblocks, and our efforts have resulted in agreement on 39 Articles. One last issue remains: Whether, at the end of the term of this CBA, the agreement (1) will remain in effect while the parties bargain any future agreement, as is the case in virtually all Federal contracts including the contracts the Agency has with its other unions, or (2) can unilaterally expire, leaving employee rights in peril.

“The Agency is insisting that the AFGE agree to a contract that can simply be ended by one party, a stance that is reminiscent of the previous administration. The Agency’s extreme position jeopardizes the prospect of reaching agreement, and the announcement of our joint bargaining success is in serious trouble. […]

“The highest priority for the parties should be to join together in good faith and hammer out this last issue dividing us and get to agreement on the overall contract. After that, both parties can announce to our communities, in a joint statement, that bargaining is complete and a fair CBA that we can all stand behind will be put in place.”

A strong contract that helps attract and retain skilled workers is more urgent than ever as the EPA tackles its enormous responsibility of confronting climate change, reducing emissions and protecting human health. AFGE Council 238 is asking Administrator McCabe to respond by Thursday, March 21 and to help facilitate a fair bargaining process that reaches a fair agreement before the contract expires in just a few short months.