More than 100 Members of Congress Call on HHS to Follow Labor Law

Press Release February 7, 2020

Washington D.C. – More than 100 members of Congress are calling on the Secretary of Health and Human Services to restore good faith contract negotiations with his agency’s employees, as ordered by an independent arbitrator.

“HHS is required by law to negotiate in good faith and doing so is critical for its mission to protect the health and well-being of Americans,” according to a letter from Rep. Anna Eshoo of California and signed by 106 other House members.

Eshoo, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, sent the letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar on Thursday.

The National Treasury Employees Union represents about 14,000 HHS employees around the country, including at the Food and Drug Administration and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

“The career civil servants at HHS are pleased to see such a strong outpouring of support from Rep. Eshoo and others in Congress,” said NTEU National President Tony Reardon. “HHS frontline employees have suffered while the administration stripped away their most popular employee programs and disrespected their desire to have a meaningful voice in the workplace.”

HHS walked away from negotiations with NTEU in 2018 after trying to gut the contract and then refusing to even discuss alternatives.

After NTEU filed multiple grievances, neutral arbitrators determined the agency violated federal labor laws by bargaining in bad faith, prematurely declaring an impasse and then imposing an incomplete, one-sided contract on its employees.

“Dedicated public servants shouldn’t have to divert their attention from helping HHS meet its mission to worry about the burden of anti-employee policies because management is failing to negotiate in good faith,” Eshoo wrote.

NTEU represents 150,000 employees at 33 federal agencies and departments.