As you may be aware, the Union and the Department are currently in negotiations over the Secretary’s proposed plan of 50% in-office attendance for bargaining unit employees. It’s essential to note that the Department cannot lawfully implement this plan until all bargaining obligations, including proceedings at the Federal Service Impasses Panel (“the Panel”), have been met. The Panel, a component of the Federal Labor Relations Authority, is responsible for resolving impasse disputes in the federal sector.

As of now, the parties have reached an impasse and have sought the Panel’s assistance. The dispute is over the Union’s proposal of no more than 3 in-office days per pay period, absent a valid operational need. The initial step involves attempting to resolve the impasse through mediation. We are scheduled to meet with a mediator during the second week of February 2024. Consequently, we do not anticipate any changes to telework schedules until the spring.

If you are not already a member, we encourage you to stand with us and each other by joining AFGE Local 17. Your support strengthens our collective voice and enables us to better advocate for your interests.

For those of you who are members of AFGE Local 17, we thank you for your ongoing support.

For a lighthearted finale, Dolly Parton’s iconic ‘9 To 5’ perfectly encapsulates the desire for telework flexibility among VA staff, and Local 17’s tireless fight to achieve this goal.


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