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:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


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