Fedweek

Tensions between federal agencies and unions have continued to rise as the former carries out policies set by the recent executive orders on bargaining and the latter decry those policies while awaiting a court decision on their request to block them.

The latest flare-up involves HHS and the NTEU union that has a bargaining unit in the FDA. After a brief period of bargaining on proposals reflecting policies of the orders HHS ceased negotiations and is poised to impose its positions as policies, according to the union. It said those positions include removing most of the prior negotiated agreements over matters including flexible working schedules and telework. Much the same scenario is playing out between the VA and the AFGE union, which already had a similar experience with the Education Department.

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Unions have filed complaints at the FLRA arguing that the departments are refusing to negotiate in good faith as required by federal labor-management law. They also asked a federal district court to temporarily block those orders while it considers their arguments that the orders violate civil service law. Oral arguments were held three weeks ago but there is no specific schedule for when a court might rule on such a request.