NTEU to Start 2020 with Big Wins at HHS

NTEU will be starting the year with two important legal victories in our fight to make the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) properly negotiate a new contract for its employees.

NTEU has been locked in a heated dispute over contract negotiations with HHS for more than a year. The union has repeatedly argued that HHS violated the law by bargaining in bad faith and imposing an unfair, one-sided and incomplete contract that employees never ratified. And now, an arbitrator has agreed that HHS had no legal right to impose a partial collective bargaining agreement.

In sustaining NTEU's grievance, an arbitrator found that HHS illegally imposed a Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP) order while contract negotiations were ongoing.

Here’s some background: On April 1, the FSIP issued a decision, imposing contract language on multiple articles between NTEU and HHS, that was tilted heavily toward management. The order gutted telework and made it significantly harder for employees to take time off around the holidays.

At the same time, the FSIP declined to assert jurisdiction over six articles of the contract and instructed NTEU and HHS to return to the bargaining table. Shortly thereafter, HHS announced it would immediately implement the FSIP’s language even though those articles had yet to be bargained.

Earlier this month, the arbitrator agreed with NTEU and found that the 2010 collective bargaining agreement remains in effect until all outstanding negotiations are completed. The arbitrator ordered NTEU and HHS to "meet, discuss and negotiate" over the harm HHS caused by prematurely implementing the FSIP-ordered articles.

In a second win, the Federal Labor Relations Authority dismissed two unfair labor practice charges HHS filed alleging that NTEU failed to comply with impasse procedures.

These victories are great news for HHS employees as NTEU prepares for another year of tough fights to get management back to the bargaining table.