Tom Temin: And the executive orders of the Trump administration cover a lot of territories, and what can we reasonably expect from an answer, would you want to see in an agreement in terms of official time and all the other provisions? Tom Temin: Okay, and before I go into some of those details, I mentioned about a quarter of a million, I think there are 270,000 employees on the National Council goes to AFGE. Is there an agreement for everyone in the Council? Ibidun Roberts: That`s right. It is the master contract, the locals get certain arrangements to negotiate on the ground. But it is for the general concepts on which we agree at the national level. Ibidun Roberts: Well, the current agreement is what we call rushed, once the VA has opened it, our language in the Treaty says that the provisions will continue until we reach a new agreement. So that`s where we`re with the current agreement, it`s continuing until we get to a new one. So we negotiated with the VA for half a month, and the VA requested the services of the Federal Service Impasses Panel, which is the authority of the federal government to break the deadlock. Like us government employees, we cannot go on strike, someone has to break the deadlock, and that is what this agency is doing. VA asked for your help.
They asked us to defend our proposals in an opinion that had to be issued on June 3. Then we had the opportunity to refute the other`s arguments, and it was just July 5. For now, the council is arguing. — we are just waiting for a decision from them. Tom Temin: Normally, one of the questions is how long the agreement will be in place. Is that something you don`t agree with? Tom Temin: Give us an idea of the situation in which the whole treaty is in terms of the timing and expiration of the existing treaty. Ibidun Roberts: Oh yes. The VA is therefore seeking a ten-year contract. We are looking for the traditional three-year contract. There are many reasons for this.
One of them is that other unions can challenge our certification after three years, but changes are happening as well. And if these changes happen, we want to be able to open the agreements and accept those changes. And this is especially true for the VA, which has had a number of changes. For example, the Accountability Act is an important change that we want to include in the agreement. Another is President Trump`s executive orders, if we had a 10-year agreement, we would not be able to get changes, like the ones I just mentioned. A shorter term is better than a 10-year term. Ibidun Roberts: Yes, we are negotiating to come back, we do not think that the expulsion of the union by the VA was legal. Even under the executive, it was not legal. The executive itself therefore says not to provide free or enhanced space for unions if it is not generally available to non-federal organizations, and here at the VA, that is the case. VA allows non-federal organizations to use free space.
We have several examples of them in our rebuttal, such as the organization of the go nurses and the direction of the VA, they all got free space. So there would have been no change in our space, even under executive orders. And we really felt the consequences if we are removed from the institutions, the workers do not have access to the union. And now, during the pandemic, it`s even worse, employees have been looking for unions to find their rights, how they can file complaints with OSHA, to find out what`s free for them, because we just passed laws, like FFCRA, that employees didn`t know what they were doing, and the union wasn`t there to talk to them.