National labor-management council spars over telework

Despite a lively -- and at times tense -- discussion on Wednesday, the National Council on Federal Labor-Management Relations failed to reach a consensus on the charter for its recently established telework working group.

In her report on the group's first conference call, council member Patricia Niehaus, national president of the Federal Managers Association, said some participants thought the group was created to explore ways to implement a mobile workday for federal employees in the event of a terrorist attack or natural disaster. Others thought the group ought to work toward a broad, governmentwide telework policy.

"We kept coming back to the same thing," Niehaus said.

Differences of opinion within the working group spilled over into a discussion among members of the entire council.

Co-chairman Jeffrey Zients, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget and federal chief performance officer, said the Obama administration is developing a governmentwide telework policy. When asked about OMB's progress doing so, Zients said, "There have been discussions. It's engaged." But he added, "I don't think it's imminent."

Zients, who voiced concerns about the working group in September, questioned whether the group is necessary before a broader telework policy is unveiled.

John Gage, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, fired back, reminding the council that a number of union contracts involving telework date back to the 1990s. He said examining a mobile workday only in the event of a snowstorm would be insulting. "If you can work from home on a snow day, you can work from home on a beautiful day in July," he said. "We're half-stepping the issue.

"Telework has to come through this group," he added. "Period."

Meanwhile, the council did reach a consensus on guidance to advise agency labor-management forums on evaluating success of the partnerships. The document will be posted soon on the council's website and sent to agency forums.

The council also voted unanimously to approve an implementation plan for the labor-management forum at the Social Security Administration. Both sides are ready to move forward, reported council co-chairman John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management.

Berry still is working on a letter to be sent to agency labor-management forums with guidance on engaging employees or their union representatives ahead of time in decisions that affect their daily work, known as "predecisional involvement."

The National Council on Federal Labor-Management Relations was created through a 2009 executive order. Its next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 1.

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:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

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