The NTEU union chapter at the Federal Election Commission (FEC) obtained an important win at the Federal Service Impasses Panel on telework. The union successfully fought off an arbitrary, restrictive and unsupported agency proposal to force employees back in the office more often.
FEC employees were required to report to the office just three times per pay period, as part of an NTEU-negotiated pilot program. Despite the program’s success over an 18-month period, the FEC wanted employees to report to the office an additional day per pay period.
The union relied upon management’s own records concerning the pilot program, and had communicated with and surveyed bargaining unit employees. The FEC, by contrast, failed to support its proposal with meaningful data, relying instead on vague assertions about the importance of "team building" and seeing one another in the office--all of which are reminiscent of SEC management's arguments in favor of mandatory in-office days at the SEC. FSIP found management's position completely unpersuasive, pointing out that, "Bereft of specific examples of telework diminishing the workplace, the Agency Chair testified to a fervent desire to establish what could only be viewed as team building in the form of 'water cooler talk.' In such situations, she contended, employees could build esprit de corps by sharing information on topics like entertainment and dining. To ask whether hypothetical in person conversations about pizza and 'Desperate Housewives' support undercutting the results of the parties' expansive and meticulously crafted pilot program is to answer the question. Accordingly, the Agency's proposal is rejected."
Click Here to Review FSIP's Decision
Chapter 293 congratulates the FEC union on this victory. NTEU will continue its tireless efforts to beat back unreasonable restrictions on telework and remote work, while at the same time pushing agencies to expand these workplace flexibilities.