Yesterday, NTEU filed a national grievance against HHS for bad faith bargaining in violation of 5 U.S.C. § 7116 (a) (1), (5) and (8). As you know, the parties met for what we hoped would be a more productive second round of term bargaining on Monday, July 30. At HHS’s request, a Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) mediator attended the session. Even with the mediator present, the HHS “team” engaged in the same bad faith bargaining tactics as they did in early July. Since the parties began term bargaining on July 9, HHS has refused to explain or answer questions about its proposals, made unreasonable demands for written counter proposals, and refused to follow the agreed upon bargaining schedule.
The ground rules allow each party to open up to 20 articles. HHS ignored this by proposing to exclude 41 subjects from the grievance process, including those covered by unopened articles, effectively writing those subjects out of the contract. HHS further violated the ground rules by prematurely involving an FMCS mediator in an obvious effort to check that box so it can move forward to the Federal Service Impasse Panel (FSIP). After only two full-day sessions, HHS submitted what it called its last best offers and walked out. The ground rules establish an 18-week bargaining schedule. Thirty-two of 34 opened articles were never discussed, and NTEU was not afforded an opportunity to counter 21 of the agency’s proposed articles.
In sum, HHS came to the table with absolutely no intention of engaging in good faith bargaining. Tellingly, their proposals are almost word-for-word versions of the unilaterally and illegally implemented Department of Education contract. Consequently, we filed a ULP grievance asserting bad faith bargaining and a repudiation of the ground rules, in violation of 5 U.S.C. § 7116 (a) (1), (5) and (8). We asked for the following remedies: cease and desist from bad faith bargaining; comply with the ground rules agreement; withdraw the last best offer and return to the term bargaining table with NTEU on mutually agreed upon dates, including the 18-week bargaining schedule; recognize there is no collective bargaining impasse and therefore no Federal Service Impasses Panel jurisdiction; a notice to all employees admitting wrongdoing; and, all other appropriate relief.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact your chapter president.