Recently, NTEU was advised by the Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP or the Panel) that it had asserted jurisdiction over the parties’ impasse over ground rules.
In July 2015, NTEU notified HHS that it was opening the consolidated term collective bargaining agreement, executed in 2010, to negotiate new terms. NTEU submitted initial ground rules proposals to HHS in September 2015. The parties negotiated for a number of months, and in January 2016, we sought the assistance of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. After several mediation sessions, it was clear to NTEU that the parties were at impasse but the federal mediator refused to release the parties to the Panel. After several more mediation sessions, the mediator finally released the parties, and NTEU filed a request for assistance with the Panel.
There are essentially two issues in dispute: the term bargaining schedule and the payment of travel and per diem of members of the union bargaining team. HHS has refused to pay for more than 50 percent of the union’s team of six negotiators. HHS also refused to accept NTEU’s proposal to complete bargaining in a seven-week time frame.
To resolve those issues, the Panel has ordered a mediation-arbitration proceeding before Member Marvin Johnson. That proceeding will be conducted today, November 30, 2016. If the parties are not able to reach a voluntary settlement of the dispute in mediation-arbitration, Member Johnson will issue a binding arbitration decision within a few weeks of that date. Once there is a decision on ground rules, the parties will be able to commence negotiations over a successor collective bargaining agreement to the existing 2010 agreement.
I will share details on the resolution of the ground rules after a decision has been rendered.