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EPA forces union leadership to negotiating table resulting in new Master Collective Bargaining Agreement with AFGE

Agreement concludes a decade of negotiations, self-dealing by AFGE for partisan gains

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WASHINGTON (August 6, 2020) — Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signed a new Master Collective Bargaining Agreement (MCBA) with EPA’s largest Union, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). The successful negotiation of a new agreement is the latest step in an ongoing effort by the Trump Administration to create an effective and efficient government.

During negotiations, EPA offered a best and final deal, which would have given employees additional workplace flexibilities. This was ultimately rejected by the union as they chose to place a higher value on paying union leadership with taxpayer dollars to perform union work and open up new avenues for grievances over EPA employee workplace flexibilities.

“While the history of these negotiations was rocky, I believe both parties were motivated, professional, and earnestly attempted to address the best interest of all involved,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “The agreed-upon articles include subjects important to our employees, including employee rights, leave, work schedules, and telework. This new Master Collective Bargaining Agreement, which will take the agency into next 50 years of protecting human health and the environment.” 

The new MCBA was negotiated at a national level to streamline the negotiation process and create consistency across EPA’s nationwide footprint. The Agency pursued contract provisions which will reduce costs, promote government performance and accountability, and limit the use of taxpayer-funded union time, consistent with the requirements of President Trump’s Executive Orders 13836 – Developing Efficient, Effective, and Cost-Reducing Approaches to Federal Sector Collective Bargaining, 13837 – Ensuring Transparency, Accountability, and Efficiency in Taxpayer-Funded Union Time Use, and 13839 – Promoting Accountability and Streamlining Removal Procedures Consistent with Merit System Principles.

The new MCBA contains 21 articles which include subjects important to EPA employees, such as: employee rights, leave, work schedules, and telework. These articles were ultimately ratified by the union and approved through the agency head review process.

Negotiations on the new MCBA date back to 2010, including years of back and forth, failed ratifications, refusals to negotiate, allegations of unfair labor practices, settlement agreements, and a pandemic.

EPA Associate Deputy Administrator Doug Benevento was joined by the EPA negotiation team during the signing. AFGE, which represents approximately 7,400 EPA employees nation-wide, participated virtually in the signature ceremony.