NTEU, HHS Commit to Reset of Labor-Management Relations

Press Release August 2, 2021

Washington D.C. – The Department of Health and Human Services has agreed to abandon harmful workplace policies unilaterally enforced during the last administration and repair the relationship with its frontline workforce represented by the National Treasury Employees Union. 

The joint announcement between NTEU and HHS ends four years of contentious legal battles and poor labor-management relations during which employee voices were disregarded and their rights curtailed. 

“This is a new day for federal employees at HHS offices and the Food and Drug Administration because finally, after years of disrespect, they will have a meaningful say in their workplace,” said NTEU National President Tony Reardon. “We are pleased that the agency has complied with President Biden’s Executive Order 14003 and has committed to reset the labor-management relationship and restore the basic workplace rights and benefits that HHS employees and their representatives deserve.” 

Under the previous administration, agency leaders refused to negotiate a new contract in good faith and instead used a Trump-appointed panel to impose a partial ‘contract’ that employees never approved. Now, the agency has agreed to abandon that approach and starting today, go back to the 2010 collective bargaining agreement, as updated in 2014, until a new contract can be negotiated and ratified fairly. 

“All we’ve ever sought is good faith negotiations over a new contract that protects a host of important employee benefits, including telework and alternative work schedules, which have become even more crucial during the pandemic,” Reardon said. “The 14,000 HHS employees we represent around the country have committed themselves to public health and we share their desire to help the agency meet its important mission.” 

As part of the agreement, HHS and NTEU will pursue a global settlement of all outstanding litigation, which will give this important labor-management relationship a fresh start. The parties have also agreed to resume regular Labor Management Forum meetings.

“I am pleased that HHS has agreed to take these critical steps to restore the negotiated contract rights of bargaining unit employees while we continue to negotiate a successor contract,” Reardon said. “This has been a trying time for HHS employees and there is much work yet to be done, but I am optimistic that we are now poised to develop a more productive labor-management relationship.” 

NTEU represents employees in 34 federal agencies and departments, including the FDA, the Administration for Children and Families, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the National Center for Health Statistics, and other important HHS programs and offices.