A senior EPA official told government management that negotiations date back to 2010, when the Agency first joined AFGE to reopen its 2007 agreement. Following a series of back-and-forth discussions and what the official described as AFGE`s “delaying tactic,” the EPA presented an unfair labour practice to the Federal Labor Relations Authority in late 2016. The two sides agreed to resume negotiations as part of a settlement agreement reached in 2017, but failed to agree on the ground rules. While the EPA characterized the recent dispute as part of an ongoing nine-year dispute, AFGE proposed that the provisions of the new treaty be consistent with those contained in Trump`s executive orders. After more than a year of tense negotiations, the Social Security Administration and the American Federation of Government Employees have finally agreed on a new six-year contract. The new agreement gives a bank 125,000 hours of official time – half the official time afGE bank representatives had under the previous contract, but 75,000 hours more than what gave the deadlock in its recent decision. The agreement allows 20 union representatives to use no more than 840 hours of official time per year, meaning that these workers spend about 40% of their time on union activities and the remaining 60% can perform the tasks for which they were initially recruited.  Eric Wagner. Government Executive, “Social Security`s Justification for Ending Telework Pilot Doesn`t Add Up.” November 7, 2019. www.govexec.com/management/2019/11/social-securitys-justification-ending-telework-doesn`t-add/161167/Tim Whitehouse, executive director of public employee advocacy for environmental responsibility, said the new agreement could facilitate the agency`s politicization. In the end, the union was faced with a decision: drop all ongoing litigation regarding the SSA`s bargaining contract, which included two lawsuits and nine complaints, and negotiate with the Agency – or have the panel resolve the deadlock on the remaining articles of the existing AFGE contract.
In the meantime, SSA has stated that it will begin implementing the provisions of the Chair`s personnel decisions under the second option. The new collective agreement, signed by SSA management and AFGE representatives late last week, resolves months of disagreement between the two parties and offers both a few days of stability before the lifting of the injunction on the President`s executive orders in May 2018. In an email to union officials, Bob Coomber, the EPA`s lead labor lawyer, said the agency first informed AFGE last year of its intentions to renegotiate its master collective agreement after the 2017 comparison. AFGE stated that only five articles of the treaty were being negotiated, while CEPOL stated that the whole agreement should be negotiated. We write to express our disappointment at your decision to end the telework program of nearly 12,000 employees in the social security administration (SSA) components.