Government Accountability Office management and union representatives announced Wednesday that they have reached a tentative settlement on the agency’s first-ever collective bargaining agreement.
The contract has yet to be ratified — a process that could last into next year — but parties involved say it comprehensively covers standard conditions of employment, such as alternative dispute resolutions, hours of work, travel, leave, telework, grievance procedures and arbitration procedures.
The agreement, hashed out over the past 10 months, will cover about 2,000 analysts and specialists represented by the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Local 1921 for at least the next four years. Only dues-paying union members may vote on its ratification.
“Achievement of such an agreement in such a relatively short amount of time is testament to the commitment of GAO and the union to the mission of the agency and well-being of employees,” acting Comptroller General Gene Dodaro said in a statement. “It also demonstrates the constructive relationship both sides have worked hard to develop.”
Of particular interest, union President Ronald La Due Lake said, is a focus on due process and an arrangement that will let employees organize their schedule with greater flexibility, including telework or working late one day to work abridged hours another.
“There were many places in the agency prior to the union where employees enjoyed those flexibilities, but they weren’t codified,” La Due Lake said. “We were able to cement those so that employees would be afforded those opportunities.”
He said management had from time to time negotiated on smaller-scale agreements, such as a pay scale by for employees in the developmental program, but this is the first master agreement.
“We articulated concerns with each other, we heard each others’ concerns, we worked very closely to address those concerns and the relationship benefits,” La Due Lake said. “It really bodes well for our relationship moving forward.”