Yesterday, NTEU filed a third national grievance and unfair labor practice charge against HHS for bad faith bargaining, which violated the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute. NTEU plans to expeditiously prosecute the grievance to arbitration.
As you know, on July 31, 2018, after being present for only two bargaining sessions, but not ever actually bargaining, HHS presented what it called its last best and final offers to NTEU negotiators. The “offers” to NTEU are to essentially gut 21 articles of the existing collective bargaining agreement. Bargaining between the parties was not meaningful as the HHS negotiators made no effort to reach agreement, and even refused to discuss or answer any of NTEU’s questions about its proposals. The entire bargaining process, including one day of mediation, was a sham orchestrated by HHS to force the parties to a manufactured impasse.
On August 13, 2018, HHS filed a request for assistance from the Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP or Panel) asking it to accept jurisdiction over the manufactured “impasse” over the term bargaining agreement. The FSIP is the component of the Federal Labor Relations Authority that is authorized to resolved collective bargaining impasses between agencies and the exclusive representatives of employees, but it is hardly neutral —it is comprised of Trump appointees who are extremely anti-worker and anti-union. On August 31, NTEU filed a Statement of Position with the FSIP arguing that the Panel should decline to assert jurisdiction because there is no impasse between the parties that would allow the Panel to take jurisdiction. Furthermore, there is pending litigation regarding HHS’s bad faith bargaining that must first be resolved. A hearing on the first case, regarding the disputed ground rules is set for September 24.
NTEU has filed the National Grievance/ULP alleging that HHS’s actions in negotiations, by its proposals and in its request that the FSIP assert jurisdiction over the “dispute,” constitutes bad faith bargaining and an unfair labor practice. Many of the agency’s proposals are outside the scope of bargaining because they waive NTEU’s statutory right to bargain, and it is illegal for the agency to force such issues to impasse. Also, HHS has failed to fully respond to NTEU’s multiple requests for information related to the agency’s proposals.
Accordingly, NTEU has asked an arbitrator to:
- order HHS to cease and desist from engaging in bad faith bargaining in violation of 5 U.S.C. Section 7116(a)(1), (5) and (8);
- order a status quo ante remedy;
- order the agency to rescind its last best offers and return to the term bargaining table with NTEU on mutually agreed upon dates;
- order HHS to bargain in good faith over each article that is open, including providing complete explanations for its proposals and answering NTEU’s questions;
- declare that the parties have not reached a bargaining impasse;
- order HHS to comply with an 18-week bargaining schedule as set forth in the ground rules order;
- direct HHS to promptly respond to all information requests submitted by NTEU and provide all documentation and material that NTEU has requested concerning the articles that are open and other conditions of employment;
- require the agency to post a notice to all bargaining unit employees, and signed by the Secretary of HHS, admitting that it violated the statute by engaging in bad faith bargaining; and
- grant any other appropriate remedy to which NTEU is entitled under law, rule and regulation.
If you have any questions or comments, please share them with your chapter president.