AFGE EPA Council negotiating since May 2010 and agency has yet to agree to ground rules
CHICAGO, Aug. 31, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Federation of Government Employees' Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Labor Council 238 today announced its dismay over the failure of EPA to bargain in good faith. "In the midst of a pay freeze invoked by this administration, and with federal employees and labor under attack in Congress, we have concerns about this administration's stance on federal employee unions," said AFGE EPA Council 238 President Charles Orzehoskie.
On December 9, 2009, President Obama issued Executive Order 13522 - Creating Labor-Management Forums to Improve Delivery of Government Services. In that directive, the President stated, among other things, that "Federal employees and their union representatives are an essential source of front-line ideas and information about the realities of delivering government services to the American people … Management should discuss workplace challenges and problems with labor and endeavor to develop solutions jointly."
Under the President's Executive Order, AFGE Council 238 asked for its own labor-management forum, given that it represents more than half the workforce at EPA. "However, almost three years later we are still in discussions as to how to implement such a forum at EPA," said Orzehoskie.
Of even greater concern is more than 28 months after opening negotiations on the union contract in May 2010, AFGE Council 238 and EPA have yet to move past the preliminary step of establishing ground rules for those negotiations. "It's a total failure of bargaining in good faith," said AFGE Labor Relations Specialist Derrick Davis. "In more than 30 years of negotiating these types of agreements, I have never been involved in a ground rules negotiation that has taken so long. The two sides are now in their fifth round of counterproposals, and are still discussing such mundane details as to when and where to meet," said Davis.
"Given the agency's failure to agree to ground rules, we would like to take this matter to the Federal Service Impasses Panel for resolution, but we have yet to get management to even agree to a date to meet with a mediator," said AFGE Council 238 Treasurer John O'Grady. "It seems as though the people negotiating on behalf of the agency are not interested in coming to the table, and that they may be trying to push negotiations off, perhaps hoping for a new administration."
AFGE Council 238 urges President Obama to remind management of their obligation to work with their unions in negotiating fair and equitable contracts for federal employees. Americans depend on the employees of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ensure we have clean air to breath and safe water to drink. "After all, who doesn't want clean air and water?" said Orzehoskie. "The least this administration can do is work with its labor partners and ensure the Executive Order establishes a cooperative and productive form of labor-management relations at EPA and throughout the executive branch."
AFGE Council 238 and its affiliated locals constitute a union of highly dedicated employees working within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) nationwide. Membership in the Council includes Locals at EPA Headquarters, Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, all 10 Regional Offices, as well as the National Health & Environmental Effects Research Laboratory in Corvallis and Newport, OR, National Vehicle & Fuel Emissions Laboratory in Ann Arbor, MI, and the Robert S. Kerr Research Laboratory in Ada, OK.
SOURCE American Federation of Government Employees