The Federal Services Impasses Panel has sided with SSA management over numerous provisions in a contract dispute with the AFGE union, a ruling that could set precedent as similar other disputes also end up before the impasses panel.
The SSA-AFGE dispute is one of many in which unions are asserting that agencies are taking positions in negotiations that reflect the restrictive policies in last year’s executive orders on bargaining, even though a federal court has issued an injunction against many of those provisions. The substantive negotiations began just after the orders were issued and even though the court had issued its injunction in the meantime the agency pressed forward with proposals that ended with management declaring an impasse earlier this year.
AFGE said the ruling will allow management to unilaterally exclude employees from telework, eliminate current parking arrangements, deny union officers access to working space the agency traditionally supplied, and reduce official time by four-fifths. Regarding use of office space, for example, the FSIP said that the union “cites no legal authority that requires management to provide it with a dedicated office space.” Also, the FSIP said that a union proposal to guarantee the same amount of parking would be impermissibly “burdensome” on management because of the potential added cost to an office relocation.
In addition, the AFGE said, the ruling will result in eliminating some 1,400 provisions that the two sides previously had agreed to through supplementals and memos of understanding.
However, the FSIP did side with the union, at least to an extent, on disputes over aspects of disciplinary and grievance policies in which management’s position generally reflected the policies of the executive orders.