Union settles multiple cases with Dept. of Education

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The settlement clears the way to the future at the agency.

The Department of Education has settled a range of labor practice complaint cases this week—many of which date back to issues that kicked off during the Trump administration.

The settlement was negotiated by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). It covers 14 Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) cases overall as well as ten grievances and arbitration decisions and a host of other outstanding disputes stemming from the department’s 2018 imposition of an unnegotiated document in place of the existing, and legal, Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

“You have to recall that Betsy DeVos headed the department at the time, and, you know, she is a known hater of unions,” Cathie McQuiston, the Deputy General Counsel for AFGE, told FederalSoup. “The move to replace the CBA came before Trump issued his anti-union executive orders that same year, in 2018. And what DeVos—what they—did was, compared to those EO’s that were applied government-wide, actually even more radical against labor!”

“It started with the imposition of their ‘contract,’ and then everything else followed up this illegal contract,”  “They dumped every employee off of union dues deduction, they took away all the union rep’ official time—so many things—and they wrote their ‘contract’ to waive our bargaining rights, right which we have by statute. So, then they wouldn't bargain anything at with us for three years. There were a lot of problems.”

The settlement ended, according to AFGE, the most “egregious actions of the unilateral management edict enforced by the Department of Education,” with reparative actions including:  

• Restoring payroll dues deductions for all employees who were removed from that list without their consent, going forward. Further, the department will pay AFGE for union dues that were not deducted and paid (the relevant period is from mid-2018 through 2020).

• Enacting a CBA that included new provisions worked in with those from the 2013 contract that was abandoned unilaterally by the Department of Education.  

• Permitting eligible employees to file grievances regarding actions they were not allowed to before, due to the Department of Education’s illegal moves from 2018 on.

• Giving back office space and equipment to the union, as well as compensating its officials for denying “official time.”

“AFGE will always fight to protect the rights of the employees we represent and for our rights as a union,” AFGE President Everett Kelley said in a statement. “This fight took over four years, but we defeated the Trump administration’s illegal attempts to bust the union at the Department of Education.

For the full list of matters settled, see this page on AFGE’s website.

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