We have received input from employees regarding the HHS final proposals where they say that they handle disputes with management on their own without union representation, or retire or leave federal service if unsuccessful.
Of course, every one of us has the option to leave the agency. Again, we all came to work at FDA for a reason, be it because of the mission of the agency or the benefits and relative stability of federal employment. So, why not fight for the mission of the agency, our benefits, and stability instead of giving them up willingly?
And, yes, often times employees (with us without union representation) get an informal resolution to their disputes. This is mostly because your rights are written in our CBA right now, and sometimes because management does not want to face the potential consequences of a formal grievance. If you take away your rights conferred by the CBA and the motivation to avoid a formal grievance, there will be very little chance that management will settle to resolve your dispute informally.
Regarding retirement, if we become at-will employees as HHS wants us to be, we could get fired without due process and without opportunity to retire. And, because the proposals are also geared to weaken NTEU, we would not have a powerful voice urging Congress to save our retirement, cost of living adjustment, etc. In short, retirement may not be an option if HHS gets its way.
Also consider that, if many employees in HHS/FDA leave seeking employment elsewhere, the job market will be saturated with many highly-qualified candidates, increasing competition, leading to increased unemployment and resulting in lower wages in the private sector since they don’t have to compete with the federal government “benefits” that won’t exist by then.
So, what are you willing to do to save your current rights, benefits, and job stability?