Chapter 293 Wins Expanded Telework Arbitration


2/23/11: Chapter 293 won an arbitration this month on behalf of an SEC attorney who contested the denial of his application to participate in a 4-day recurring telework arrangement under the Expanded Telework Trial Program. The federal arbitrator ruled that the SEC had violated Article 11, Section 13, of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and ordered the agency to place the employee on a 4-day telework schedule within 14 days of receipt of the order.

Division of Corporation Finance Management originally denied this employee's application for 4-day telework, supposedly because the nature of the employee's job required "frequent access to confidential information," and thus required the employee to be at Headquarters more than one day per week.

The arbitrator expressly rejected Corp Fin's position as a factual matter, finding that Corp Fin managers simply had not analyzed the available data concerning the limited portion of the employee's work which required access to confidential information. It is interesting to note in this regard that the arbitrator expressly found that the management witness who testified on these issues in support of Corp Fin's position "substantially overestimated" the quantity of such work, and expressly found that this manager's testimony "had no probative value," and thus "gave no weight" to this manager's testimony.  

"We are pleased with the result in this case, although we feel that it is unfortunate that we had to fight this long to get this decision," Chapter 293 President Greg Gilman noted this week. "Telework is expanding across the federal government. It saves money, it saves fuel, it reduces pollution -- and it allows employees more flexibility in their work-life balance. We hope that this message will get through to the handful of SEC managers who seem reflexively opposed to this positive program."

The Expanded Telework Trial Program is a pilot program negotiated by the Union at the SEC, under which hundreds of SEC employees have been permitted to participate in recurring telework schedules for 3, 4 and, in some cases, 5 days per week. The Union will be seeking to make this highly successful program permanent during the next round of Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations that will be commencing this Spring.

"This is a very good result," said NTEU National President Colleen M. Kelley. "It provides another important tool in helping address the continuing reluctance of a lot of frontline federal managers to embrace the benefits telework brings to employees and their agencies."