ULP for Unilateral Implementation and Bad Faith Bargaining Regarding Changes to the HHS Travel Manual

On August 16, 2016, NTEU filed an unfair labor practice charge against HHS after it excessively delayed bargaining and then refused to bargain NTEU’s proposals regarding changes to the HHS Travel Manual.

Official travelBy way of background, HHS made revisions to its travel manual in 2014, without providing notice or an opportunity to bargain. NTEU did not learn about the changes until 2015. Immediately thereafter, NTEU reached out to HHS and requested a briefing and to bargain, as well as information about the changes. The agency claimed that the changes had not yet taken effect for bargaining unit employees (BUEs), but acknowledged a duty to bargain and provided a briefing. NTEU submitted timely proposals in January 2016. Thereafter, HHS responded nearly five months later with counterproposals to a different initiative unrelated to the changes in the HHS Travel Manual. NTEU immediately notified the agency of the mistake and requested the correct counterproposals. HHS delayed several more weeks before submitting new counters which were, once again, for the wrong initiative. Finally, in August 2016, the agency submitted a response to NTEU’s proposals regarding the HHS Travel Manual, but declared that it had no duty to bargain any of the proposals.

NTEU alleges that HHS violated 5 U.S.C. § 7116(a)(1), (5) and (8) when it unilaterally implemented changes to the HHS Travel Manual in 2014 without providing NTEU with notice or an opportunity to bargain.

Additionally, NTEU alleges that HHS has engaged in bad faith bargaining by unnecessarily delaying bargaining for eight months and then refusing to bargain any of NTEU’s proposals. NTEU asserts that this is a repudiation of Article 3 of the Consolidated Collective Bargaining Agreement, which covers mid-term bargaining.

NTEU requests that HHS immediately cease and desist implementation of the 2014 revisions to the HHS Travel Manual; return to the status quo ante; post a notice to all BUEs indicating that HHS has violated the statute and contract; provide a separate written notification to all BUEs stating that HHS violated the law and contract; and any other appropriate remedies.

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