YOU WANT TO READ THIS! The 2023 Master Agreement: A Testament to Dedication and Resolve

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2023 Master Agreement Signing

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.

Key Accomplishments

  • Ratification of the 2023 Master Agreement.
  • Modernization of Article 23.
  • Enhancement of the promotion process for VA employees.

Distinguished Attendees

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.

“This is the very best union contract in the entire federal government, thanks to many of you here in this room…The 304,000 VA workers [we] represent have all of you to thank…We have a good contract, but now it’s up to us to make it work. We have to be a shining light for the rest of the agencies throughout the government.

Everett Kelly, AFGE National President

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.

“We want to be a model employer, and that means taking good care of all of the people who take care of our Veterans…[We] raised retention incentives and [provided] more pay incentives, special contribution rewards, increased the income cap for child care to support working parents. We published a blueprint for more flexible work hours for providers, and we’re working to increase employees’ advancement opportunities.”

Denis McDonough, Secretary of Veterans Affairs

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.

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