AFGE Council 238 Statement on Settlement of Unfair Labor Practices
During the last administration, AFGE filed a number of Unfair Labor Practices (ULPs) actions with the Federal Labor Relations Authority which were finally settled with the Agency early last week. Below is a summary of the settlements. The settlements are also be posted on AFGE Council 238’s website, afge238.org.
Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s False Statements: AFGE filed a ULP against the Agency in response to false statements made by Administrator Wheeler to EPA employees about the Union’s position at the bargaining table about telework. The FLRA found in Union’s favor, and the Agency and Union settled on a remedy that includes publishing the settlement to all AFGE bargaining unit members in the mass mailer which the Agency sent out late Friday, March 18.
The basis for the ULP was statements made by Administrator Wheeler during a Region 8 all hands meeting on July 28, 2020, wherein he stated that the Union rejected expanded telework for its members because the Union was holding out for more benefits for Union leadership. On December 23, 2020, Administrator Wheeler repeated this false statement in a mass mailer to all EPA employees. AFGE filed a ULP to address Administrator Wheeler’s repeated lies on this matter in multiple forums. In fact, AFGE was not offered more telework in exchange for anything – we were given a take it or leave it offer. Not only had the Agency not offered expanded telework, but the Agency also refused to increase telework to full-time – or even half-time – even amidst a global pandemic. Administrator Wheeler simply tried to divert employees’ attention from the Agency’s failings on telework and office re-opening policies by lying about the Union. This was unacceptable, and AFGE had to correct the record. As part of the settlement regarding former Administrator Andrew Wheeler, the Agency was required to publish the settlement to all AFGE bargaining unit members, which the Agency did late on Friday, March 18.
Bad Faith Bargaining: Following imposition of the unilateral contract on AFGE employees in 2019, AFGE tried to regain some of the contractual rights we had lost when the Agency pulled our collective bargaining agreement by reopening bargaining with the Agency. The Agency came to the bargaining table but refused to negotiate over several significant issues. AFGE filed a ULP against the Agency in response to its bad faith bargaining during the 2020 contract negotiations. That 2020 contract has now been revoked, and AFGE is heading into negotiation of a full MCBA with the Agency. Through the settlement of the ULP, Agency has agreed to comply with their obligations to bargain in good faith with AFGE and agreed to bargain with a sincere resolve to reach agreement.
Failure to Bargain Elimination of Bicycle Transit Subsidy: AFGE filed a ULP against the Agency in response to its failure to bargain the impacts of elimination of the bicycle transit subsidy. Although in settlement of this ULP the Agency agreed to bargain with AFGE regarding the bike subsidy elimination impacts, given the time it has taken to reach this settlement, there may not be anything to bargain that would benefit bargaining unit employees. However, the Agency agreed it should have bargained with AFGE at the time and states that it will do so in the future.
AFGE is pleased with the results of these settlements and our new Telework and Remote Work Articles. We look forward to negotiating the full Master Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Agency from a position of mutual respect for our bargaining unit employees.
Marie Owens Powell
AFGE Council 238