Campus Notebook: Union Bound

Posted September 26, 2008 at 6:33pm

The Government Accountability Office and its union settled on a collective bargaining agreement Friday, about one year after analysts voted to create the agency’s first-ever union.

[IMGCAP(1)]The agreement just covers the basics, such as how grievances are handled and how much work time employees can spend on union business.

But it will allow the union to finally create a permanent structure; since its inception, the organization has relied on interim officials and boards.

In a joint press release, both sides heralded the agreement as a big step forward.

“We are pleased with the developing relationship between the union and management and feel this agreement achieves some significant gains for GAO employees,” said Ronald La Due Lake, chairman of the union’s Interim Council.

Analysts voted to create the union about a year ago, after former Comptroller General David Walker switched the agency to a market-based, performance-driven system. As a result of the change, hundreds of employees lost their cost-of-living increases in 2006 and 2007.

Since then, Congress passed a new law ensuring those employees get their pay increases retroactively. Negotiations between the GAO and the union have also gone smoothly; in February, the two sides agreed on salary increases.

The most recent agreement isn’t yet set in stone. The union’s 1,800 analysts still have to ratify it, after which GAO management would sign it.

GAO officials hope it will be official by mid-November and plan to come back to the table early next year to renegotiate the agreement to include provisions related to salaries, benefits and work rules.

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