Collective bargaining between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the American Federation of Government Employees has stalled for more than a year, and the COVID-19 pandemic, which has closed parts of the country and increased workload and risk to health care professionals, has only exacerbated differences between management and unions over the best administration of the confederation. However, no new collective agreement is reached for AFGE until both parties agree to all the terms of the contract. However, a VA spokesperson told the Federal Times that the changes they want to implement are aimed at improving care: “Whether by condemning the MISSION Act or denouncing the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, AFGE has fought hard for the status quo and opposed attempts to improve VA`s work for veterans and their families. Unsurprisingly, AFGE took the same approach by refusing to accept the improvement of the common sense of its collective agreement. VA`s proposals on collective bargaining are designed to ensure that Veterans are at the forefront of everything we do, and we look forward to working with AFGE to achieve this goal. As a general rule, the collective agreement does not set specific limits on the number of days employees can and can telework. In its decision, the court set a seven-year mandate for the collective agreement between AFGE and VA. The union applied for a three-year contract, as was the case in the past, but the department wanted, on the basis of the cost of collective bargaining, a 10-year term. Linda Ward-Smith: So in North Las Vegas, we have about 3,000 employees and I`m a presidential president. Our negotiating team was made up of members in the United States. So I was chosen from about 12 members, and I was lucky enough to be a substitute, so I am very grateful. We have at the federal level more than 200,000 members that we represent at the VA.

So these are the people we are trying to negotiate a fair treaty for. NVAC submitted an application to the Federal Labor Relations Authority, the parent authority of the FSIP, to stay the decision until the pending appeals concerning several articles of the agreement and the constitutionality of the appointment of FSIP members are clarified. Linda Ward-Smith: Well, we are not in negotiations at this time. We have already tried to negotiate a fair treaty in June 2019. We started and finished six months later, when we could not agree on about 30 of our items in our contract, and management decided to put it in a bind. And for now, we are awaiting a decision from the Fair Labor Relations Authority. And they are more likely to impose a management contract, which means that we have not negotiated fairly, as we should, in accordance with the law. So for now, we are just waiting for a decision from the Employment Agency. After nearly a year of negotiations and disagreements, the Federal Service Impasses Panel has made a much-anticipated decision in the ongoing wage dispute between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the American Federation of Government Employees. AFGE filed with FSIP on June 3, arguing that the Department of Veterans Affairs had proposed significant changes to its collective agreement with the union and then refused to negotiate in good faith with AFGE representatives for counter-proposals substantially similar to those of the current agreement.

The Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP), made up of 10 presidents appointed to resolve deadlocks in agency union negotiations, significantly changed the agreement in its decision published in November.