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Arbitrator: VA wrongfully fired workers

An independent arbitrator has ruled that the Department of Veterans Affairs violated the terms of a union contract when it began firing employees based on provisions in the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act.

The bill—which allows the VA to fire problem employees and essentially eliminates the standard performance improvement period (PIP) for certain VA employees—was signed into in law June of last year.

However, the American Federation of Government Employees, filed a grievance in September of 2017, contending that the law contradicted the collective bargaining agreement it had signed with the agency in 2011.

Furthermore, AFGE reported that while the VA was firing, suspending and demoting employees without receiving a formal PIP, other employees had their standards for performance change with little or no explanation and were given no recourse to improve.

“We came to work at the VA because we believe in the mission of caring for the men and women who served this country,” AFGE National Veterans Affairs Council President Alma L. Lee, said in a news release, adding, “But instead of getting support for our work, we’ve been dealing with managers moving the goalposts and using these bogus standards to fire dedicated public servants. It’s disgraceful.”

The decision, once finalized, means that many of those employees fired over the last year will get their jobs back, and the agency will have to follow the 2011 contract with AFGE and the PIPs will be restored.

“As the president and his administration continue their heinous anti-worker attacks on unions and federal workers, it’s great to see momentum swinging in our direction,” AFGE President J. David Cox Sr., said about the decision.

The news release also states: "Veterans’ care or access to it is not improved by firing rank-and-file workers, and now, thanks to this ruling, our members can get back to work making the VA the best health care provider in the country."

Reader comments

Thu, Jan 24, 2019

A big outfit in Bethesda MD surely has more than their fair share of back stabbing, self-promoting, morale breaking, gender biased (especially against both in age), rule breaking and fraudulent management who take credit for things they never accomplished, take bogus trips, and telecommute when actually they should be taking annual leave. The management minions feel that they deserve such perks and recognition.

Fri, Oct 5, 2018 Terance b johnson seattle med centeer

for no reason my supervisor tried to push me around for no reason and I requested a union rep and did not happen. I feel he thinks he got away with the deed. I did no wrong on my performance as a worker.

Thu, Oct 4, 2018

It would be nice to see management held accountable for their actions in creating a hostile work environment.

Wed, Oct 3, 2018

@Steven - Amen but add that LM ties management hands or get black marks on their performance for trying to do their job.

Mon, Sep 24, 2018 Steven

As a federal worker and a user of the VA, I say hold your opinions based solely on the AFGE complaint. The majority of those let go were not innocent casualties. They were the non-compliant, assholes that you meet when you go into the VA for help/services. Many people believe that once they get a federal job, the work to keep it stops because AFGE makes it difficult to gt rid of the dead weight that exists in the federal service. I am a Federal worker and see it in my facility everyday, self entitled turds that forget are mission is to serve the wounded/retired service member to the best of our abilities. Not act as though we are doing them a friggin favor as I see daily.

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Edward A. Zurndorfer Certified Financial Planner
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