In order to dispel misinformation and to ensure an accurate accounting of the most recent shift bids staffing iteration at the Fort Brown BPS, the Union has decided to provide the following update to the membership at FTB.

In June of 2016, the Union and RGV Sector Management agreed to the timeline implementation for RGV Sector Shift Bids.  Prior to the meeting between the Union and Management, the FTB BPS had voted to “opt-in” to the shift bid.  (NOTE: In June of 2017, after an evaluation/trial period, the FTB BPS again voted to “opt-in” to the shift bid).  Due to the fact that the shift bids were new to the RGV Sector, and in an effort to ensure what all believed, at the time, to be the most transparent process, both parties (Union & RGV Sector Management) agreed to create a “shift bid committee,” at each station.

Each shift bid committee was comprised of management and bargaining unit employees, to include representatives of the Union, and each committee was tasked with the implementation and oversight of the Shift Bid MOU at each of their respective stations, to include FTB.  While the SOP specifically stated that the process would be managed by “one or more management officials at the station or work location,” the Union and RGV Sector management opted to work collaboratively towards implementing the MOU, thus the creation of the committees.

While it is clear that there were deviations from the MOU, there is no evidence to suggest that any of the actions taken by the committees were malicious, nor that they were taken with the intent to harm a particular employee or group of employees. As a matter of fact, the committees were following the guidance of employees with prior experience implementing shift bids in their former sectors.  Consequently, the actions taken by the committees were based on unvetted guidance intended to become “best practices.”

Again, none of the actions taken were malicious or based on ill-intent, but rather on a sincere and genuine effort to follow the MOU as closely as possible, but at the same time, help as many employees avoid their 3rdchoice.  As a result of not following the MOU to the letter, the deviations created unintended consequences no longer sustainable, as the process became too convoluted, and the ability to appease all affected employees became nearly impossible.

Section IV. 5. of the MOU states, “…the designated supervisor will sort the employees’ shift bid requests in order of seniority for each requested shift,” while Section IV. D. states, “Except as stated herein, shift assignments will be based on seniority.”  In clear and unambiguous language, the MOU clearly identifies seniority, and nothing else, as the determining factor in shift preference selection, except as stated under Section V., the “Shift Preference Plan,” (SPP) which contains the ONLY procedures in which deviations from seniority can occur.  Only when an employee has been denied their first choice on two (2) consecutive bids, can that employee be granted their first choice on the next bid, thereby possibly bumping the junior-most employee on the shift.

One of the most important aspects of the SPP is that “no employee will be bumped more than once until all other employees assigned to the affected shift have been bumped once.”  Once it was discovered that employees were bumped multiple times, and that there were employees who had never been bumped before, it was clear that any deviation from the MOU, regardless of how slight or well-intentioned, could no longer be allowed.

As a consequence of the deviations from the MOU, the Union’s Executive Board was asked to review the staffing of the latest iteration of the FTB shift bid, and as a result convened a workgroup involving other experienced shift bid committee members from the McAllen Station to work and consult with the FTB shift bid committee in order to complete a full audit of the FTB shift bid staffing.  Once again, it was discovered that the deviations from the MOU created a convoluted process that was unsustainable.

The bottom line moving forward, is that the MOU’s procedures must not be deviated from.  As a result of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) covering all bargaining unit employees, which will take effect very soon, and because the current MOU is only in effect until the implementation of a new CBA, the procedures for Shift Bids will soon be governed by the new CBA. Those procedures allow for new polling (based upon mutual agreement with the Chief Patrol Agent), to implement, or not implement, the shift bid mechanism at the station or sector level.