Housing and Urban Development Department officials told a federal employee union that they must vacate federal office space by mid-July. Union officials said this is a move to attempt to undermine collective bargaining negotiations.
HUD issued a notice to the American Federal of Government Employees Council 222, which represents HUD employees, and said it wants to remove from AFGE’s existing collective bargaining agreement union employees right to HUD office space, phones, computers, etc. by July 15.
This proposal is intended to bring the department into compliance with President Trump’s executive order on official time and it gives the union 15 days to demand to bargain, otherwise, the eviction will move forward.
AFGE officials say this effort runs in conflict with the 1978 Civil Service Reform Act and the EO HUD officials cited as justification for the eviction. The EO states it doesn’t “abrogate any collective bargaining agreement [already] in effect.”
Holly Salamido, president of AFGE HUD Council, said unions aren’t required to renegotiate existing CBA provisions outside of full-term negotiations. “We can only be required to engage in mid-term bargaining on matters not currently covered by the CBA,” she said. “The law says that when you have a CBA in place, to reopen anything already covered in the agreement is called permissive bargaining, and we can decline to engage. [There’s] federal law laid out in Federal Labor Relations Authority decisions saying that if a matter is already covered, you can only make a change if both parties agree.”
HUD spokesperson Jereon Brown said the existing CBA “allows HUD to make proposed changes” and characterized the eviction notice as “simply” a proposal. “We’re committed to good faith bargaining with the unions,” he said. “However, HUD currently rents additional space for employees to work outside of its designated buildings in locations like Washington, DC and we also pay rent for union activity space in other locations nationwide. Utilizing that space for employees assisting in housing families in need would be a much more efficient use of taxpayer dollars.”
Salamido, however, thinks this is an attempt to hurt AFGE’s ability to bargain. “This seems to be a deliberate attempt to undermine our ability to prepare and conduct these negotiations,” she said. “To throw us out on July 15 when we’re going into negotiations, we wouldn’t have copiers, we wouldn’t have scanners or telephones or private offices where we can hold discussions…And they know that our best negotiators will b engaged in the full-term negotiation, and we can’t have people be in 2 places at the same time.”
HUD Director of Employees and Labor Relations Joseph Sullivan sent an email to Salamido. “You will receive management’s preliminary proposals shortly. We are eager to get into compliance with the EO’s as quickly as possible. Given the number of union representatives receiving taxpayer-funded union time, I am confident that AFGE [Council] 222 has more than sufficient personnel to bargain these proposals without detracting from the term renegotiation.”
Salamido went on to say they are weighing their options to fight back. “This is clearly an unfair labor practice and is prohibited by statute. But under the statute, the only person who can issue a complaint to the FLRA is the general counsel, and the Trump administration has deliberately not filled that position, so no complaints have gone forward…We will do everything we can to enforce our rights under the law.”