New Collective Bargaining Agreement Q&A

Due to some intentional misinformation being put out regarding the new CBA, which becomes effective on November 1, 2019, we’ve put together a Q&A of some of the questions we’ve received to help dispel some of the rumors being promulgated by some of those nefarious experts out there:

Q1.      I heard that there will be no more cool-down periods for details under the new CBA. Is this true or false?
A1.       False, the new CBA has a built-in selection process for details and collateral duties, and a cool-down period remains in place, which is equal to the length of your detail, not to exceed 1-year. For example, if you serve on a detail for 6 months, your cool-down will be 6-months, if you serve for 1-year, it will be 1 year; however, if you serve for 2 years, your cool-down will be 1-year, as that is the maximum cool-down period.

Q2.      Does the Detail Management Team go away under the new CBA, and if so, will junior agents have a chance at details?
A2.       The new CBA will have a built-in selection process for details/collateral duties, and is not governed purely by seniority. Some sectors, such as RGV, already have detail management teams, but many do not. Any standing DMT SOP cannot conflict with the new CBA. The built-in selection process will dictate how all sectors will assign details and collateral duties, which will now fall into two categories: the detail or collateral duty either requires prerequisite skills and abilities, or it doesn’t. For details and collateral duties which just need any agent to participate, it will be assigned by seniority. This applies to details wherein the agency will teach you a skill, like riding ATVs, or it is an assignment any employee can do. If a detail needs a particular skill, then the agency can require employees to submit a memorandum or resume and participate in an interview, if necessary. For example, if a detail needs someone with a specific skillset/requirement, then the agency will explain that skillset/requirement, among others, in the solicitation and employees will have to provide information about their specific skillset/ability in order to qualify for the detail. The following information will be used for selection when the agency determines that a detail or collateral duty requires special skills: a) Any required qualifications, certifications, or other training, etc.; b) Any preferred prerequisites/qualifications; c) Prior temporary assignment of the same type; d) Seniority; e) Period between temporary assignments; f) Interview (if applicable); g) Supervisory Recommendations; and h) Availability. The weights of the above criteria will be included in the solicitation. In the event the above criteria result in an equal evaluation of two or more candidates, seniority will be the tie breaker.

Q3.      Will senior agents get all of the holidays?
A3.       No, the selection of annual leave will work like a draft, employees will be arranged in order of seniority and their requested periods of annual leave will be arranged in order of preference. Each employee will be granted their first available leave choice and then move to the next employee on the list. After moving from the most senior employee down to the most junior employee, the list will start over again with the most senior employee and will continue to move through the list until all leave requests have been considered or there are no more available periods of time. Due to the breakdown of the two (2) six-month leave periods (Oct – Mar / Apr – Sep), four (4) of the major holidays are within the first period (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years & Spring Break), while, Fourth of July and the Summer leave periods are contained in the second. This provides more opportunities for the leave to be distributed more evenly, without allowing any group of agents to retain all of the leave periods.

Q4.      Why didn’t the Union bargain for GS-13s and FLSA?
A4.       Contrary to misinformation, under Federal Law, Public-Sector Unions (federal government) cannot bargain over pay and benefits such as retirement and leave; therefore, the Agency does not have the discretion to enter into bargaining over pay, differentials, or any other federal leave and pay administration issues. Simply put, they cannot bargain over those topics, as it is illegal. That being said, the Union, through our legislative efforts, has been successful, through our lobbying efforts, in getting members of the U.S. House and Senate (on both sides of the aisle) to sponsor legislation re-authorizing BPAs to earn FLSA; however, those Bills are subject to Congressional approval in both chambers. As for GS-13s, we have been working with the current Administration to seek higher-graded positions within the agency, but just like FLSA, it is illegal for public-sector Unions (NBPC) to negotiate over GS increases; that is strictly the responsibility of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and grade levels are determined by job responsibilities. The Union is working to add responsibilities and duties to the BPA position description in order to warrant GS-13 upgrades. The process is still ongoing. The Union is optimistic, as in the past, the Union has been successful in getting across-the-board GS-11 and GS-12 upgrades. Those upgrades were not handed to us, it took a lot of hard work and effort before we were able to make it happen.

Q5.      Will we re-vote for the Bid-For-Shift?
A5.       Yes, the current Shift Bids MOU is in effect until the implementation of a new CBA; therefore, effective November 1, 2019, the Shift Bids will reset, allowing for the opting-in or opting-out at each individual station.

Q6.      What are the options if the Bid for Shift is voted out?
A6.       In the event that a station opts-out of the Bid for Shift, that station will return to rotating shifts.

Q7.      Is it true that we can now swap assigned days off duty?
A7.       Yes, employees will now be able to swap assigned days off duty with other employees from the same tour of duty. Shift swaps also remain permissible under the new CBA.

Q8.      Can you provide an update on the compressed/alternative work schedules?
A8.       An update to the BPAPRA Technical Amendments Congressional Bill was pulled at the last minute by a member of Congress due to their misunderstanding of what the Bill provided. The Union’s legislative team has reached out to that member’s staff and is vigorously working on a solution.

Q9.      Will all detail history reset under the CBA?
A9.       The Union and Management will collaboratively decide whether detail history will reset, and if so, for what length of time period going back.

Q10.    How will days off duty be assigned? If I have a special event, can I have a requested day off if I am not senior enough?
A10.     Assigned days off will be assigned by seniority as requested by the employee; however, management always has the discretion to accommodate an employee without bumping an agent who is senior to the employee in order to ensure that junior employees who have special events will be able to take that time off. In other words, an employee cannot be bumped, but management has the discretion and may make the adjustment necessary to grant time off for employees.

Q11.    I heard that involuntary details away from your duty station got extended to 60 days. Is that true?
A11.     No, that is false, the language in the new CBA remained the same as in the current CBA, which states that, except for training courses, details away from the normal duty station will not exceed 35 calendar days, unless the employee volunteers for a longer period.

Q12.    Now that beards will be allowed, what will be the policy on shaving if you aren’t growing a beard?
A12.     Employees who are not actively attempting to grow a beard or other type of facial hair must report to work with an otherwise cleanly shaven face. Ungroomed beard stubble will not be considered neat, clean and professional.

Q13.    Do I still need a medical waiver to grow a beard, or am I covered by the new CBA?
A13.     That will be entirely up to the individual; however, there are restrictions as to when you can wear a certain uniform or perform certain functions while having a beard, but those exclusions will not apply to employees who have requested and received a waiver for medical or religious purposes.