The signing of the 2023 Master Agreement between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the AFGE marked a significant step forward in their collaborative efforts, symbolizing unity and hope for a bright future.
Pivotal Aspects of the 2023 Master Agreement
- Preservation and Modernization: The new agreement not only retains 99% of the provisions from the 2011 Master Agreement but also introduces updates. Most notable among them is the modernization of Article 23, focusing on Title 5 Merit Promotion, a testament to the shared commitment to ensuring a fair system for VA employees.
- Streamlined Hiring: VA is empowered to implement strategies to expedite the hiring of Title 5 employees across the department.
- Enhanced Employee Benefits: The agreement comes alongside other initiatives like the PACT Act, which broadens benefits for Veterans exposed to burn pits, and the VA Nurse and Physician Assistant Retention and Income Security Enhancement Act. Both laws were signed last year and are seen as part of the broader commitment to improve the lives of VA workers.
- Ratification of the 2023 Master Agreement.
- Modernization of Article 23.
- Enhancement of the promotion process for VA employees.
Among the notable attendees during the signing ceremony were:
- Alma Lee, President, National VA Council
- Everett Kelley, AFGE National President
- Denis McDonough, VA Secretary
Kelley highlighted the significance of the contract, emphasizing its place as the foremost union agreement in the federal sector. Secretary McDonough, on the other hand, shed light on the administration’s commitment to enriching the lives of VA employees. He noted the recent record-breaking hiring spree, with 48,500 new clinical and administrative staff joining the VA in 2022 alone.
The arduous journey spanning six years, characterized by disagreements and legal proceedings, culminated in this landmark agreement. The past saw the imposition of almost entirely anti-labor policies, which were subsequently rejected. It wasn’t until an independent arbitrator’s intervention in early 2023, due to continued bad faith negotiations, that both parties resumed productive discussions.
Looking ahead, the improved labor-management relationship and the new contract promise enhanced care for Veterans. Secretary McDonough reiterated the department’s intent to focus on delivering quality care without distractions from past legislative provisions that proved counterproductive.
Get the 2023 Master Agreement
For those interested in diving deep into the provisions and details of the new Master Agreement, it’s available for download. Click the button below to access the full document.
Watch the 2023 Master Agreement Signing Ceremony Online
For those who wish to witness this significant milestone in the AFGE’s journey, the National VA Council 2023 Master Contract Signing Ceremony is available for viewing on Facebook. By following this link, you can watch the event unfold, marking a defining moment in our ongoing commitment to collaboration and progress.