The impact of the administration’s now-fully-operative executive orders on labor-management issues continues to be felt, with the SSA the latest agency to impose policies objectionable to unions but those unions meanwhile saying some of the numerous complaints against agencies are producing results.
The SSA, citing its recent contract agreement with the AFGE union, said it will end effective November 22—a two-week delay from the original date—the telework program for employees in its operations division, which encompasses teleservice centers, field offices, area and regional offices, operations support staff and others.
In a message to employees, the agency said the change would “focus all of our resources on providing service to our customers . . . We must have the ability and flexibility to address our shifting workloads and the daily, and oftentimes emergent, needs of our frontline components.”
The AFGE, though, says that the change unfairly gives those employees little time to adapt, will hurt morale and productivity, and goes beyond management’s discretion to limit telework envisioned in the contract. AFGE and other unions have filed complaints against similar cutbacks on telework by other agencies—which have occurred even as OPM has continued to tout the program as good for both employees and agencies.
Meanwhile, the AFGE says an FLRA investigator has determined that there is merit in an unfair labor practice complaint the union filed against the EPA. The case relates to policies the EPA imposed in July involving union use of agency office space, representation procedures, telework policies and more. The union said the investigator has proposed a settlement under which the agency would have to agree to “rescind the unlawfully imposed contract, return working conditions and treatment of the union to those contained in the prior contract, publicly post notice of the violation, and return to the negotiating table to bargain with the union in good faith.”
Also, the Association of Administrative Law Judges has said that an FLRA regional director has “determined there’s sufficient evidence to indicate the Social Security Administration interfered with union officials’ right to engage in union activity” in preparing for bargaining. The two sides are at impasse and are before the Federal Service Impasses Panel, an arm of the FLRA.