GAO, union reach agreement to hold election

The Government Accountability Office has resolved a disagreement with a federal labor union over the eligibility of certain employees to organize, paving the way for a union election process to be completed in September.

Under the agreement, reached Wednesday with the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, all permanent and probationary employees in Band I, Band IIA and Band IIB of GAO's paybanding system will be eligible to vote, the agency and IFPTE announced in a joint statement. Voting will end on Sept. 19.

The results will determine whether 1,500 analysts at GAO will have union representation. The election will mark the first time GAO employees have voted on the issue in the watchdog agency's 86-year history.

"I am very pleased that we have been able to reach an agreement with IFPTE that will result in a timely election," Comptroller General David M. Walker said in a statement. "As I have consistently said, GAO recognizes and supports the right of GAO employees to organize if they choose to do so."

The election announcement marks a strong reversal from earlier this month, when IFPTE General Counsel Julie Clark indicated that under a proposed timeline, an election at the agency would happen no earlier than October, if at all.

GAO managers and the union have spent weeks trying to resolve disputes about the potential makeup of the bargaining unit, largely because of challenges brought by GAO that analysts in Band IIB hold supervisory roles that would make them ineligible to join a union.

IFPTE Secretary-Treasury Paul Shearon said Thursday that GAO leaders approached the union last week, questioning whether Band IIB analysts could be represented by a separate union. "That provided the option of discussing how we approach getting these employees to vote with the party of their peers," Shearon said.

The discussions allowed the two sides to reach a compromise Wednesday, allowing all permanent and probationary Band IIB employees to participate in the IFPTE election. As part of the agreement, the union agreed to withdraw an unfair labor practice charge filed against Walker late last month.

Headquarters employees will vote by manual ballot, and field office employees will vote by mail. Ballots will be counted immediately after the voting process ends, Shearon said.

After the election is complete, GAO management will have five days to allege a violation of the election rules. But if employees choose in favor of the union, certification is immediate. GAO's union would be an IFPTE local, and after certification, employees who join could begin electing officers and negotiating a contract, Shearon said.

The push to unionize is partly a response to a new personnel system at GAO, under which 308 senior analysts did not receive pay raises last year. IFPTE has said that most employees have cited what they consider to be a lack of transparency in pay for performance as a major driver of the organizing campaign.

Unlike most federal agencies, in which managers are not responsible for setting pay, bargaining over wages would be possible at GAO because of management's broad authority over compensation.

GAO's Personnel Appeals Board will oversee the election process and is expected to issue a formal election agreement in the coming days.

"IFPTE is grateful for the diligent efforts of all the people who had a hand in bringing this agreement about," said IFPTE President Greg Junemann, "and we look forward to continued mutual cooperation as we move forward to complete the election process."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.