Deepak Gupta, the lead counsel representing AALJ, said he hoped the vote on the May 4 collective agreement would be suspended, but Judge Amy Berman Jackson said any suspension of the vote would not go to court, but could be negotiated between the parties. The new agreement gives a bank 125,000 hours of official time – half the official time afGE bank representatives had under the previous contract, but 75,000 hours more than what gave the deadlock in its recent decision. « The commitment and commitment of all those involved in these difficult negotiations was the reason an agreement was reached, » Richard Giacolone, head of the agency and president-elect for the position of director of the FMCS, said in a statement on Monday. « This resolution is proof of the power of good faith negotiations, where both sides are ready to come to the negotiating table, put aside their differences and work towards a mutual agreement that respects the interests of both sides. I commend the leaders of the SSA and AFGE for their commitment to resolving these difficult issues in a spirit of constructive engagement. « Administrative judges work hard every day in the United States to maintain our country`s laws in a way that creates respect for the administration of social security. While we welcome FLRA`s support for our complaint, it reinforces our concern about the willingness of agency leaders to in our rights as a union. This has had an impact on our preparation for contract negotiations, » McIntosh said in a press release. In early March, the chief spokesman of the Social Security Administration, Eddie Taylor, formally asked the administrative judges` union not to ratify the parts of the contract before the Inpass panel before 4 May, arguing that the unresolved issues should not be ratified because they are imposed by the panel. In the end, the union decided to negotiate a new contract with the agency.
The SSA has scheduled five days of negotiations with the union. AFGE proposed four weeks, according to the union. Both parties are currently before the Federal Service Impasses Panel, which could decide whether to apply the proposed SSA contract or order the agency to return to the bargaining table, but the union argued that such a body is not designed in accordance with the Constitution to assert such jurisdiction. Maintaining the status quo with telecommuting is one of the union`s top priorities, Couture said, but it is one of the few areas on which AFGE and the SSA cannot compromise.