WASHINGTON – Officials of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) have reached final agreement on a new national collective bargaining agreement, their first since 1997. This contract will enhance VA’s partnership with the union, change the rules for teleworking and expand the use of e-mail in labor-management relations.
“This new agreement reflects VA’s commitment to collaborate with an important labor partner,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “The outcome will be a more highly motivated, more effective workforce serving our Nation’s Veterans.”
About 204,000 of VA’s 315,000 employees are eligible for AFGE membership, with another 23,000 employees eligible for membership in four other unions.
Secretary Shinseki approved the contract on March 15. The complete labor agreement will be signed soon by Shinseki, AFGE leadership and the VA and AFGE members of the bargaining teams at an internal event that will be broadcast at VA facilities around the country.
Among the provisions of the contract are:
· Enhanced collaboration with union officials on work-related issues;
· Expansion of teleworking among employees, including clarification of rules governing telework; and
· Increased reliance upon e-mails and new technology in labor-management communications and processes.
VA is the second largest cabinet office in the country in terms of workforce. VA employees operate 153 major medical centers, about 1,200 other sites of health care, manage a nationwide system of 131 national cemeteries, and administer about $75 billion in disability compensation, Veterans pensions, educational benefits, home loan guarantees, life insurance and other financial programs.
source: Department of Veteran Affairs, press releases