At the Social Security Administration’s Office of Hearings Operations, Chapter 224 is taking advantage of the fresh approach to bargaining ushered in by a new administration and seizing opportunities to bring improvements to the workplace and resolve employee issues.
Under the leadership of Chapter President Christie Saunders, Chapter 224 is developing strong professional relationships with agency leadership based on mutual respect and ample communication.
“We are goal-driven, said Saunders. “That goal is protecting our employees and their rights. We ask questions and talk through the issues. That way, we have a meeting of the minds.”
As the chapter prepares to negotiate reentry plans, Saunders is heartened that Acting Commissioner Dr. Kilolo Kijakazi, Deputy Commissioner Terrie Gruber and other OHO leaders have shown a willingness to address employees’ concerns in initial discussions.
“We are seeing a genuine appreciation for our employees and their hard work. We need to sort out some details about this plan, but we certainly appreciate the positive movement from management,” said Saunders
In addition to making strides on telework and safety issues in the last six months, Chapter 224 has made significant progress on other pressing workplace matters. The agency has reset the performance expectation for attorneys and paralegals and negotiated a new performance index memorandum of understanding (MOU) that provides additional relief. NTEU and SSA have also negotiated MOUs addressing workplace safety issues, the vaccine mandate, workload concerns, and a lapse in appropriations or government shutdown.
Many of these MOUs were hammered without lengthy bargaining sessions.
“We are thankful that the agency, for the most part, has been more collaborative under new leadership,” said Saunders. “It is refreshing and a huge win for employees.”