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NTEU, HHS Agree on Employee Awards, Continue Talks on Consolidated Contract

Friday, March 28 2008

Washington, D.C.—The National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) said today it has reached agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on distribution of performance awards to NTEU-represented employees, paving the way for the agency-wide program to move ahead.

The issuance of such awards—and not just for those in NTEU bargaining units, but for employees throughout HHS—essentially was in limbo while the parties continue protracted negotiations for a consolidated labor agreement covering the seven operating divisions in the far-flung agency where NTEU is the representative.

HHS had declared it would delay issuing any awards until the consolidated contract was concluded; then it said it would issue awards—but only to employees not represented by NTEU. Finally, it reached agreement with NTEU to move ahead with the entire program reversing earlier decisions. The awards decisions were to be finalized by March 31. Awards will be distributed based on a timetable set by each operating division.

As part of the continuing contract talks, NTEU previously agreed to let HHS implement a new performance appraisal system, and the awards will be distributed consistent with employee performance scores achieved under its use.

“I am pleased we were able to settle this matter so that hard-working, high-performing HHS employees are not delayed in receiving their earned awards,” said NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley.

She noted that while each HHS operating division has the budget flexibility insofar as the percentage of employee salaries allocated for awards, agency management has agreed the percentage will be the same for bargaining unit employees and those outside of the bargaining unit.

In the wake of the awards settlement, the NTEU leader said she is “hopeful that this movement signals a greater willingness to reach agreement on the remaining term contract issues. Many already have been settled.”

A mutually-agreed upon arbitrator is expected to report by mid-April on his recommendations concerning remaining issues between the parties—who continue to bargain.

NTEU is the largest independent federal union, representing 150,000 employees in 31 agencies and departments.

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