On Monday, HHS and NTEU resumed the second scheduled week of term bargaining. A mediator from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) was present, at the agency’s request. The parties began by discussing NTEU’s counter proposals for Article 2 (Contract Duration and Termination). NTEU provided a briefing on the proposals with complete explanations for the rationale behind them. We then moved on to Article 3 (Mid-term Bargaining), which was opened by both parties. NTEU provided a briefing on its proposals with complete rationale and examples of the problems we were trying to address in the article. When it came time for the agency to explain its proposals, it refused. The agency stated that all of its proposals were drafted for the purpose of achieving three (3) goals: 1) reducing costs; 2) decreasing administrative burden; and 3) simplification and consistency across the department. NTEU pointed out that many of the agency’s proposals did not appear to achieve those goals and some seemed to actually undermine those goals. However, the agency refused to answer our questions or provide any further explanation of any of its proposals.
On Tuesday, the agency presented NTEU with its final offers for all thirty-four articles that were open. In its final offer, the agency proposed to strike even more articles from the contract than the prior thirteen. Now, along with telework, AWS, and awards, the agency has proposed to strike articles on Annual Leave, Sick Leave, FMLA, Leave Sharing, Overtime/Compensatory time, Details and Temporary Promotions, and Health and Safety. This means the agency is proposing to strike a total of 21 articles from the CBA. The agency offered no explanations for the strikes – NTEU and HHS had not even had the opportunity to discuss these articles – but HHS is clearly attempting to invalidate almost the entire contract.
After presenting its final proposals, the agency declared the parties to be at impasse and that FMCS should release the parties from mediation, despite the fact that the parties spent only two days in bargaining and discussed only two of thirty-four articles. As I communicated to you in my last message, HHS has no interest in bargaining in good faith, but wants to have its proposals implemented as soon as possible by the Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP). FSIP is currently stacked with anti-union, anti-employee Trump appointees.
Because of the dire consequences that the agency’s proposals would have on employees, we are asking you to share this message with the employees covered by our chapters, and ask them to join and sign our petition and stand united against HHS’s harmful proposals.
In the meantime, NTEU will file formal requests for information with HHS so that it will be compelled to provide information regarding its proposals, and we will insist that the parties continue bargaining for the agreed upon weeks, resuming on August 13, until the parties have discussed every article and reached an actual impasse. Additionally, NTEU will be filing litigation regarding the agency’s bad faith bargaining tactics and will keep you updated on the status of the litigation.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact your chapter president.