The AFGE union has listed its priorities for bargaining over the SSA’s procedures for bringing more employees back to the office on a more regular basis, including making sure “that the successful telework program is fully utilized.”
The AFGE-SSA bargaining unit is one of the largest in the federal government and the process there could send a signal for similar negotiations government-wide. The Biden administration has told agencies to meet bargaining obligations in carrying out their “reentry” plans, which in the case of the SSA and several others publicly announced call for more employees working more often onsite.
The union has said it has asked for information including the numbers, workloads and assignments planned for employees starting at the turn of the year; schedules of employees’ telework days and the process for trading off among employees; any revisions to employee performance standards; the Coronavirus transmission rate by office; procedures for verifying immunization status of visitors and for maintaining social distancing from them; cleaning schedules and the chemicals used; and more.
Said the AFGE: “The union’s need for all of the above is to draft proposals to ensure the safety of employees and the public and to determine if each office has sufficient staff. Since the agency is required under President Biden’s Executive Order 14003 to bargain over permissive subjects, if SSA doesn’t have enough staff to handle the anticipated work, the union can make proposals on numbers, types and grades as well as moving work to other facilities.”
“The union also wants to avoid a situation where management miscalculates workloads and order teleworking employees to return to the office within two hours and employees have no right to file a grievance,” it said.