AFGE Local 2113 response to "Learn the Truth flier"

On April 11, 2001, upon arrival at work, many employees found in their chairs an anonymous flier entitled LEARN THE TRUTH DECIDE FOR YOURSELF!!. It contained many misleading statements and some false statements and invited employees to sign a forthcoming petition calling for an election to decide whether union representation should be terminated.

Please read the information below for the real truth. In contrast to the anonymous flier, we are available to provide you further information and explanation of the issues at hand. If you need further information on a subject and can't find it on our website, please do not hesitate to ask any officer or steward.

AFGE Local 2113 encourages every employee to learn the real truth before voting in the representation election. This election has the potential to leave employees without Union protection of employee rights. Through its right to negotiate with management on issues concerning working conditions and policies, the union is able to provide representation which is not available to individuals. Individuals have no such right to negotiation with management. If you believe that Union representation is better than no representation, then you should vote "YES" in the election.

A vote for no representation would mandate that there would be no Union representation here for a minimum of one year. That means that Management would be free to implement any changes they choose during that time as long as they are not illegal (and history has shown that Management has not always limited their actions to those which are legal). Employees would have no rights to negotiate with management on anything. Any negotiation which might then ensue would occur only at the pleasure of Management. Reestablishment of a union would require another petition and election, recognition by the Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service and could take up to three years. Before signing a petition to disband the union, employees should counsider whether they really want to be without representation when Washington is discussing a new round of base closings. Do you really want to be without representation when "In a March 9 memo, OMB Deputy Director O'Keefe directed agencies to complete A-76 competitions or directly outsource an estimated 42,500 jobs by October 2002."

The flier falsely alleges that "If you don't pay, you have no say." Bargaining unit members are solicited for their viewpoints regardless of their membership in Local 2113. Every bargaining-unit member's opinion has equal weight regardless of union membership. Local 2113 has conducted surveys in recent years concerning employee morale, the use of TQL as a critical performance element, the use of RDOs, flexiplace, replacement of the cafeteria, resumix, CAC badges, and we intend to conduct more surveys in the future. The Union protects the right of employees to bring matters of personal concern to the attention of appropriate officials. Our success depends upon the amount of time and energy provided by our members or Local officers in developing and distributing surveys. We hope our website, once it is up and running smoothly, will provide us with the means to collect more data from surveys. The mailing list we just created will provide us with another method. If you are not receiving our e-mailings, please bring this to the attention of any union officer.

The flier alleges that "all employees are subject to the union's opinions."When a group of employees approves union representation, then that union does become the exclusive agent for collective bargaining on behalf of those employees. However, with no union, there is no mechanism for representation. Management is under no obligation to negotiate with individuals. The writers of the flier ask "Do you want to be allowed to think, decide, and speak for yourself?" All employees are fully free to think and speak for themselves, with or without a union. However, only Unions have a legal right to negotiate workplace decisions with Management. This right to negotiate decisions will not transfer to individual employees.

Employees are entitled to their own opinion, whether it agrees with the Union's opinion or not. Local 2113's opinion is based upon the greater good of the bargaining-unit employees as a group -- not upon individual benefits to a few. No special benefits are accorded to Union through negotiations with Management. The Federal Service Labor Management Relations Statute (FSLRS, 5 USC 71) states in section 7114,(a)(1) that "an exclusive representative is responsible for representing the interests of all employees in the unit it represents without discrimination and without regard to labor organization membership." The president of Local 2113 declined the offer of a reserved parking space last year (2000) because of our position that parking should be open on a first come, first served basis, and union assignment of reserved parking would be a benefit not accorded to our bargaining-unit employees.

The flier falsely alleges that employees "get to work harder because union officers use official time for union purposes rather than helping on projects that benefit the Fleet." Local 2113 does not have any full-time officials. Local 2113 officers and stewards are tasked just like other employees with project work, but also are able to perform representational duties on official time. Time charged for union work is not charged to projects. Congress considers pay for official time as necessary and in the public interest so allows for the cost in the appropriations. Union official time is funded just like EEO, Alan Lunin as Labor Managment Specialist, HR, etc. No employee works any harder because the Union is here. Every employee should provide a "fair day's work for a fair day's pay." Employees should also be fairly compensated for work in excess of a day's pay. In addition to their use of official time, Union officers donate a considerable amount of their personal time and annual leave in order to properly represent the bargaining unit.

It would be an unfair labor practice for Management to discriminate against an employee in work assignements based on union membership. If this is happening, then we encourage the affected employees to bring this to the attention of any Local officer or steward.

The flier alleges that your "opportunity to get higher pay based on the quality of your work was prevented by the union." Employees are not prevented from receiving higher pay or bonuses based upon the quality of their work. The process for receiving higher pay is called "Merit Promotion" and the negotiated Awards article of the LMA describes the types of awards available to our employees. Since the distributors of the flier have not identified themselves, we cannot be certain as to what they were referring to on this matter. The issue of pay banding comes to mind though. Pay banding is described as a system which allows accelerated pay advancement (or stagnation) based on supervisors' evaluation of employee performance. While this may look good on the surface, several problems remain with pay banding and have been demonstrated at other sites where pay banding has been in use for many years. Please see our page on pay banding for an explanation of why Local 2113 opposed it. Pay banding was also rejected by Management when it was considered in 1996.

The flier falsely alleges that "management is not allowed to let you know when changes being considered that effect [sic] working conditions." Management is not barred from telling you about potential changes in working conditions. Management is required to provide the union with an opportunity to negotiate changes in working conditions. The quote by Local 2113's President refers to negotiating changes. Refusal to negotiate with a union on such changes constitutes an unfair labor practice. If there is no union, then there is no obligation to negotiate.

The process Management is required to follow concerning notification of proposed changes to working conditions is called a "Formal Discussion." The FSLMRS section 7114 (a)(2) states "an exclusive representative of an appropriate unit in an agency shall be given the opportunity to be represented at - (A) any formal discussion between one or more representatives of the agency and one or more employees in the unit or their representatives concerning any grievance or any personnel policy or practices or other condition of employment...." For more information on formal discussions, see the appropiate page from FLRA on the Stewards' page.

The flier alleges that "Your chain of command spends an inordinate amount of time deailing with dozens of frivolous grievances filed by the union." No grievance is frivolous if it is based on a complaint that Management is breaking the rules that have been negotiated so carefully between the parties. Employees have a right to file a grievance for any breach of this agreement (see Labor Management Agreement). The Union will investigate a matter thoroughly prior to helping an employee file a grievance. Employees are also free to file their own grievances without the Union's assistance. Management is required to share their responses to any grievances filed by employees with the Union so it can determine whether or not any settlement would adversely affect the bargaining unit. If nothing grievable ever happened, then we would be spending no time on grievances.

We cannot guess which grievances are considered frivolous and invite those who allege that frivolous grievances were filed to provide details. (Which grievances were frivolous?)

The flier falsely alleges that the union filed a grievance against a NAVAIR Admiral. The Union has never filed a grievance against any Admiral. We request further details as to how anyone came under the impression that the Union had filed a grievance against an Admiral.

The flier falsely alleges that the union filed a grievance against the Commanding Officer for allowing a randomly-chosen employee to use his reserved parking place while he was out of town. Local 2113 did not file a grievance against the Commanding Officer over lending his parking spot to a randomly chosen employee. The Union wrote a letter asking to negotiate over this apparent change to the parking policy contained in the LMA. Rather than negotiate with the Union, the Commanding Officer decided to withdraw the change. The union's position on parking is consistent with guidance from OPM and contained in both DOD and Navy instructions. Please see our page on parking for more about our position on parking, No grievance was ever filed on this matter. We can only wonder where anyone might have gotten this idea.

The flier alleges that the "union president files grievances regarding changes over which the Command has no control...." While it is true that changes are imposed upon us over which the Command has no control, the Command often does have leeway as to how those changes are implemented, and the union does have the right and obligation to negotiate over such implementations.

The Union filed an unfair labor charge over the change to a mandatory use of the Travel Charge Card because that issue had already been negotiated in the LMA to be a voluntary use. We felt that the FLRSA allowed the LMA to take precedence over a change in regulations while the LMA was in effect. We were wrong based on a technicality within another article in our agreement. At least with the Union present, we are allowed to challenge the changes when they are not beneficial to our employees. As individuals, employees have no right to challenge any changes to working conditions. Employees gain that right only by electing to have an exclusive representative.

The Union still believes that implementation of NMCI could have been made much more smoothly with fair and equitable treatment of employees if the Union was allowed to negotiate that implementation. Management has discretion to make many changes associated with the NMCI. Training, who gets what type of computer system, which employees are designated mobile employees, and timing of upgrades are all examples of such discretionary issues.
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This page was last updated on January 30, 2002