Union, Social Security Administration reach contract deal

Matt Sayles/AP

This story has been updated with comment.

Social Security Administration employees nationwide achieved some gains in working conditions and benefits in a contract agreement reached Wednesday, after more than two years of negotiations.

The contract agreement between SSA and the American Federation of Government Employees Union is currently a “conceptual,” oral agreement between the two parties, but the union expects to have a contract signed with the agency by mid-April, said Witold Skwierczynski, an AFGE representative. Once a contract is ratified, it will be valid for four years.

The agreement has been in the works since December 2009, according to a statement issued Thursday by the union.

Negotiations between the two groups have taken place two weeks every month since that time. In September 2011, AFGE took the bargaining to the Federal Service Impasses Panel.

“When the agency saw we were prepared to go to the impasses panel, they started changing their attitude with regards to contract negotiations,” Skwierczynski told Government Executive. “We were convinced they’d be happy to just roll over our current contracts for another four years.”

According to Skwierczynski, the union “took a lot of hits” on a number of issues in its prior contract, signed in 2005.

If the agreement reached Wednesday is inked as a formal contract next month, employees will see an increase in employer contributions to some vision benefits, a rise in transit subsidies and more in credit hours for student employees, he said.

Under the new agreement, SSA managers will be required to inform an employee that he or she has a right to a union representative during discussions of potential disciplinary action against the employee. In the past, managers were not inquired to inform the employee of their rights, Skwierczynski said.

Additionally, the new agreement expands employee “personal rights” -- including gender identity in the agency’s discrimination policy, a new anti-bullying provision and a lactation policy for breastfeeding mothers.

Many other items AFGE hoped to gain in the new agreement have been deferred, the union said, including provisions regarding electronic meetings and telework.

“Those are sticky positions where the parties are pretty opposite,” Skwierczynski said, calling SSA’s telework policy “extremely restrictive.’ The union is requesting a telework policy that allows employees to work at home two to four days a week.

SSA confirmed the conceptual agreement in a statement Thursday and said it expects to meet with AFGE again early next month.

The agency is aiming to recoup its losses in funding and employee levels from fiscal 2011 budget cuts in this year’s budget.

In the Obama administration’s fiscal 2013 budget proposal, SSA requests $11.9 billion -- nearly $30 million above fiscal 2012 budget. The agency plans to begin replacing 7,000 state and federal employees it lost since a hiring freeze from 2011.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

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


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