Collective Bargaining completed

NTEU Monday Minute for the Week of July 13, 2015: Term Collective Bargaining Completed

Yesterday NTEU and the agency completed Term Collective Bargaining. The last five articles that were bundled for discussion during this session included: Article 15 – Family Leave; Article 22 – Awards; Article 47 – Arbitration; Article 49 – Reduction in Force; and Article 52 – Official Time.

During the weeks between the first session and yesterday, the agency had considered the interests NTEU discussed at the bargaining table in June. NTEU, likewise, had many discussions during the time between sessions to clarify the interests that best serve our bargaining unit employees. We had a Coffee and Donut session on July 1st with you, our bargaining unit employees, to talk about the status of bargaining as well as to provide information on the OPM breach.

During yesterday’s session, we are happy to report, the three articles that had been bound up by bundling the articles were agreed upon by both parties within a few minutes. For the two remaining articles, Awards and Reduction in Force, the agency had listened to NTEU’s interests and provided draft language that both parties could work with.

Ultimately, yesterday’s negotiations led to the following agreement regarding the Awards article:  The Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) will continue to note that there is no entitlement to performance awards or other types of incentive awards. The agency has long held this position and at impasse on awards at our last mid-term bargaining, the arbitrator upheld the agency’s position on this point. But the agency was willing to establish a link between the percentage of salary allocated to the nonsupervisory bargaining unit employees and percent of salary allocated to supervisory employee performance awards. The agreed upon language is that the percentage of salary allocated to the nonsupervisory performance awards will be no more that 0.8% less than the percent of salary allocated to the supervisory employee performance awards. In the last session of bargaining, the agency had expressed their desire not to be tied to a specific percentage. NTEU explained its interest in memorializing what the agency has done for the last two years, i.e., about 0.5%. NTEU initially asked to make this 0 .4% (which was the typical spread prior to the last few years); the agency countered with 1.1%. The parties agreed to .8% as well as to a Memorandum of Understanding noting that if OMB raises or rescinds its current guidance to federal agencies that restricts agency performance pools for non-SES employees, the NRC may notify NTEU within 15 days if the agency elects to pay an award amount that exceeds the prior restriction. In the MOU, NTEU also agreed that NTEU will not open this article during mid-term bargaining.

Regarding the Reduction in Force article: The parties agreed to the language NTEU proposed in the first session which, in the event of even the possibility of a RIF, establishes a union-management committee composed of equal numbers of union and management representative to make recommendations to agency officials who have the authority to make RIF-related decisions. The revised article focuses on advance notice of a RIF and allows for NTEU to submit proposals for the bargaining unit over the impact and implementation of the RIF, to the extent permitted by law and consistent with Article 49. Article 40 sets out RIF procedures to minimize the adverse impact of any reduction in force. Article 49.4, RIF Procedures, also notes that the agency will not use the competitive service approach known as “bump and retreat.” The NRC will follow the excepted service order of retention as set forth in 5 CFR § 351.502, taking into consideration length of tenure, veterans preference, length of service, and performance, etc.

Revised Article 15 – Family Leave has been revised to include updated information about leave entitlement under the Family Leave and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for covered members of the Armed Forces. Article 15.3, Maternity Leave, notes that the agency will “ordinarily grants requests for up to 6 months of maternity leave which would typically include the employee’s 3 months of entitlement to maternity leave pursuant to FMLA.” This article stresses the importance of employee/supervisor discussions to arrive at mutually acceptable options to address maternity and paternity interests. Article 15.6 has now been retitled “Paternity or Same-Sex Spouse Leave” and addresses how that leave can be taken.

Revised Article 47 – Arbitration Procedures addresses NTEU’s interest that the parties agree on documents that are sent to an arbitrator prior to arbitration, rather than the previous procedures wherein the agency unilaterally decided which documents to send.

Revised Article 52 – Official Hours allows for an additional FTE with the additional position to be designated by the Chapter President, as well as a revised approach for allocating time for various union-related functions. This is a step forward. Currently, the second FTE is provided for under a Memorandum of Understanding. NTEU believes this is the bare minimum of FTE to be able to ensure that one person is available to attend meetings while having an individual available in the union office.

NTEU feels that yesterday’s signing of the last 5 articles is a major milestone, furthering the interests of our bargaining unit employees.

The remaining articles that NTEU and agency management had already agreed to, as noted in a previous NTEU communication, include:

·         a “mass dignity’ clause in the Employee Rights article that allows employees to grieve unprofessional behavior or bullying whether or not the employee is a member of a protected class;

·         the ability to request telework up to five days per week, with supervisors able to approve two days a week without upper management approval;

·         increased hours when employees on Flex Schedules can earn credit hours;

·         provisions in the annual leave article that establishes deadlines by when managers should approve/deny annual leave requests;

·         a new section in both the disciplinary and adverse action articles that describes the process for alternative discipline agreements. These agreements are widely used at the NRC now, but were not in the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA);

·         the right to respond to counseling memos in writing as well as the acknowledgement that counseling memos are not the first step of progressive discipline but serve, instead, to counsel employees about behaviors or performance;

·         a new process for employees requesting reassignments that does a better job of keeping employees informed as they go through the process; and

·         language in the CBA specifically prohibiting retaliation for participating in the Non-Concurrence, Open Door, or Differing Professional Opinions Programs.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact the union office at, or stop by O 1G22, NTEU’s office.

In Case You Missed It: The Hispanic Employment Program Advisory Committee (HEPAC) cordially invites you to a lunchtime seminar, “Tools for Your Success,” with Basia Sall, NRC Leadership Development Program Manager. The seminar will be held on Tuesday, August 4th from noon to 1 pm in the TWFN Auditorium. The seminar will provide valuable information on NRC programs designed to advance your career. These programs are the Aspiring Leaders Certificate Program (ALCP), Leadership Potential Program (LPP), Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program (SESCDP), and Executive Leadership Seminar (ELS). If you cannot attend the seminar in person, please consider registering to attend remotely using the following “GoToTraining” link: .

For more information on this seminar, please e-mail or call Huda Akhavannik, 301-415-5253, or Basia Sall, 301-287-0582.

Someone Said: “Society as a whole benefits immeasurably from a climate in which all persons, regardless of race or gender, may have the opportunity to earn respect, responsibility, advancement and remuneration based on ability.” — Sandra Day O’Connor, Supreme Court Justice


Posted in Upcoming CBA Bargaining

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