Frequently Asked Questions
"Avoiding Problems by Identifying Solutions"
Who can join?
Administrative employees (Operations Support Specialist, Transportation Assistants, Prisoner Transportation Specialist, Paramedics, Budget Analysts, Property Management Specialist, Program Analysts, Administrative Support Assistant (OA), Purchasing Agent, Seizure and Forfeiture, Prisoner Movement, Investigative Researchers, Criminal Program Specialist, Airplane Pilots, Lead Accounting Technicians, Management and Program Analysts, Prisoner Transportation Specialist).
Detention Enforcement Officers GL 1802/5,7,8
Aviation Enforcement Officers GL 1801/7,9,11
Deputy U.S. Marshals GL 082/5,7,9,11
How are my Union dues spent?
Your Union dues are spent in a number of different ways including representation during an investigation, negotiation of working conditions, legislative action, training for Union representatives and activities in which the Union sponsors. Your monthly dues are divided between your local and the AFGE National.
How can I quit?
Article 19 Section 6 c. Termination of Allotments: of the Master Agreement states:Allotments by employees shall be terminated:
1. Upon loss of exclusive recognition by the Union, effective at the beginning of the first full payperiod after such loss or recognition;
2. When the dues withholding agreement is terminated;
3. When an employee ceases to be eligible for inclusion in the unit covered by this Agreement for which the Union is the exclusive representative. Employees temporarily promoted out of the unit will have their dues withholding terminated while they are the incumbent of a non-unit position. The employee may continue to pay dues directly to the Union during his or her temporary promotion. When the
temporary promotion is terminated, the Employer will automatically resubmit a request to Justice Payroll to reinstate dues withholding;
4. When an employee is expelled or ceases to be a member of the Union in good standing, effective with the first complete pay period after receipt by the Personnel Office of written notice from the authorized Union official;
5. Revocations by employees shall be in duplicate, preferably on an SF-1188 form, shall be forwarded by the employee to the Personnel Office. The SF-1188 forms will be purchased by the Employer and made available to employees at their duty station.
6. Employees may submit SF-1188's ninety (90) days prior to their annual revocation period, but no earlier. Employees who have elected dues withholding prior to January 11, 1979, or who have been on dues withholding for one year after January 11, 1979, may revoke dues withholding each January 15th. Employees may revoke dues withholding no earlier than one (1) year after the initiation of dues withholding.
How Do I File a Grievance
The purpose of this Article is to provide a mutually acceptable method for a prompt and equitable settlement of grievances. This shall be the exclusive grievance procedure available to the parties and employees in the unit.
Section 2. A grievance means any complaint:
a. By an employee concerning any matter relating to the employment of the employee;
b. By the Union concerning any matter relating to the employment of an employee; or
c. By an employee, Union or management concerning
1. the effect or interpretation or a claim of breach of this agreement; or
2. Any claimed violation, misinterpretation, or misapplication of any law, rule, or regulation affecting conditions of employment.
Section 3. Exclusions - This procedure does not cover grievances concerning:
a. Any claimed violation of Subchapter III of Chapter 73 of Title 5 U.S.C. (relating to prohibited political activities);
b. Retirement, life insurance, or health insurance;
c. A suspension or removal under Section 7532 of Title 5 U.S.C. for reasons of national security;
d. Any examination, certification, or appointment;
e. The classification of any position which does not result in a reduction in grade or pay of any employee;
f. Any personnel action (to include also the proposed action and the incidents which form the basis for the action) if the employee has elected to initiate the statutory appeal procedure of the agency's EEO appeals process, the EEOC, the FLRA, or the MSPB to challenge, in any way, the personnel action. Initiate an action is defined as filing or authorizing the filing of an appeal under another appeals procedure. Employees are subject to all regulations governing other appeals procedures.
g. An appeal of an adverse action based on performance under 5 U.S.C. 4302 or efficiency under 5 U.S.C. 7512 if the employee elects the statutory appeal procedure provided under 5 U.S.C. 7701;
h. A Union appeal of an adverse action or an allegation of discrimination against any employee if the Union is not expressly designated by the employee as his/her representative on the matter.
i. Issues raised as Unfair Labor Practices complaints cannot be raised as grievances under the NGP.
j. Non-selection for promotion from a group of properly rated and ranked certified candidates. (Appeal rights are contained in applicable laws and regulations).
k. A counseling or preliminary warning notice, which if effected, would be covered under thegrievance procedure. (This does not apply to a meeting in which an examination takes place, where there is a reasonable belief that disciplinary action may occur and the employee requests Union representation).
l. An employee can file a grievance alleging unsafe or unhealthful working conditions or alternatively file an Office of Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) complaint but not both.
Only officials designated by the Union may represent employees in grievances. Union officials representing employee grievants have the right to be present during any phase of the grievance process. Employees may present their own grievances directly to management; however, when the grievant specifically requests or designates a Union representative in the grievance, the representative must be notified prior to any meeting and afforded the opportunity to be present during any discussion of the grievance, subject to provisions of Article 10 - "Official Time, Travel and Per Diem."
The parties recognize that the NGP is designed to give the parties the opportunity to resolve interpretations and/or applications of this Agreement. Therefore, any violation of this agreement should be processed under the provisions of this Article. The parties agree to submit virtually all contract related matters to the NGP for final disposition and to use sparingly unfair labor practice procedures concerning contract related issues which may occur in the day-to-day administration of this agreement. Violations of the Statute should be processed under the ULP procedures.
A grievance must be presented within thirty (30) days after the date of the incident giving rise to the grievance or thirty (30) days after the incident became known, except that no grievance may be filed more than one year after the date the grievance occurred. Grievances concerning letters of caution, reprimands, suspensions, demotions, and removals will be filed at Step 3 of the Negotiated Grievance Procedure. Third level grievances filed originally at the third level must be delivered to the third level deciding official not more than thirty (30) days after date or receipt by the grievant of the decision letter. Reasonable extensions may be requested and will normally be granted.
Section 7. Grievance Procedure
Normally, employee grievances should be filed with the immediate supervisor. However, grievances may be filed at the level that caused the grievance. If the grievance is filed with the USM or Division Chief or other designated management official, the parties will meet within five (5) workdays of receipt of the grievance, and discuss the grievance informally. The management official will issue a decision within ten (10) workdays of the meeting to the employee and his representative, if any.
If the grievance is not resolved by the procedures in Step One, the grievance may be submitted to the National Labor Relations Officer or other designated management official within seven (7) workdays after receipt of the Step One decision. The management official will review, investigate, and discuss the grievance with the employee and his representative within seven (7) workdays of receipt of the Step Two grievance. The management official will issue a decision in writing within ten (10) workdays after receipt of the Step 2 grievance unless time limits are mutually extended.
If the grievance is not resolved by the procedures in Step Two, the grievance may be submitted to the Director or his designee within seven (7) workdays of receipt of the Step Two decision. The Director or his designee will review, investigate, and if necessary, discuss the grievance with the employee and his representative. The Director, or his designee, will issue a final decision in writing to the Step Two grievance. The Director, or his designee, will notify the employee and his representative within thirty (30) days after receipt of the grievance at Step Three. The decision at Step Three will state that it is the final decision of the Employer on the grievance. A grievance that is properly filed directly with the Director shall be processed under Step Three procedures. If there are any questions concerning who is currently the "designee", the Chief of Employee and Labor Relations in Service Headquarters should be contacted.
Each step of the grievance must be completed in sequence. If the Employer does not issue a decision within the time limits provided in this Article, the aggrieved party may advance the grievance to the next step. The time limits of the grievance procedure may be extended by mutual agreement. For the
purposes of determining time limits of this procedure, a grievance shall be deemed filed or presented under this Article when it is received by the proper official.
When an employee covered by this Agreement suffers loss or damage as a result of management's violation of this Agreement, the employee will be paid back pay in accordance with applicable law.
The parties have the obligation to make a complete record during the steps of the grievance procedure including the obligation to produce any and all witnesses who have relevant information. New issues may not be raised after Step One unless the party had no knowledge of the issue at the time the grievance was initially filed.
Any rejection of a grievance of the grounds of non-arbitrability or non-grievability will be served on the aggrieved party at or prior to the time when a final decision on the grievance is to be issued. If the grievance is not resolved by the procedures in Step Three of the grievance procedure, the Union may invoke arbitration pursuant to Article 25, Arbitration. If a party raises a grievability or arbitrability issue, based on timeliness or substance, the arbitrator must conduct a two stage hearing and rule on the procedural issue(s) prior to hearing the substance of the grievance.
Section 11. Employer Grievances:
a. Scope. The Employer may file a grievance with the Union over any matter which by law may be resolved through the negotiated grievance procedure. The Employer may present a grievance to the National President, AFGE, or his/her designee.
b. Procedures. The grievance shall be presented in writing. The grievance shall be decided by the President or his designee within 30 work days of receiving the grievance. If the Employer is dissatisfied with the President's disposition of the grievance, the Employer may refer the grievance for binding arbitration.
Employees who have sought informal EEO counseling may still file a grievance on the matter, provided that such grievance is initiated within thirty (30) days of incident giving rise to the grievance to be filed, and no formal EEO complaint has been filed.
The parties hereto agree that every reasonable effort will be made to settle grievances at the lowest possible level.
When is a bargaining unit employee allowed to ask for a Union rep?
We will assume you are talking about representation during an investigation, as Union Rep's do representations in other matters as well.
Anytime an official investigation is authorized in which you feel may lead to disciplinary action. This also covers any written reports that you may be told to submit. But remember, anytime you are questioned by any management personnel concerning an incident that you feel may lead to disciplinary actions your best choice is to ask for Union representation. And this does include probationary employees.
Do I have to talk with an investigator if I have asked for a Union representative and they have not yet arrived?
"If the employee requests a Union representative no further questioning will take place until the representative is present, provided that if the representative is not available within a reasonable period of time, the questioning and/or submission of a written report may proceed without the representative being present. Such questioning may proceed only when these urgent circumstances are documented and presented to the employee and/or his representative. Reasonable time is defined as that time necessary for the designated representative from the local Union to travel to the site of the examination. The Union will promptly designate its representative and make reasonable efforts to avoid delay." In other words, no. But ONLY until such time as a Union representative arrives. After a Union representative arrives you are still bound by policy to cooperate during an IA investigation.
ONLY the Union has the right to assign your Union representative. Management does not have that right. If you are ever placed into this situation and management attempts to assign you a Union rep, they are voilating the Master Agreement, and we need to know about this serious infraction. Also, you are not required to sign any statement that you feel is inaccurate. Take your time and read any statement, or any document for that matter, that is given to you to sign. When you place your signature on any document you are saying that you agree with it's contents. Make absolutely certain that you do actually agree with everything contained in that document. And to help you even further, any time spent in an investigation WILL BE compensated, ie: overtime.
Who should I contact first if I need assistance from the Union?
Any Union steward , You can find out who is a steward by looking on the Union bulletin board
How do I file a grievance?
Any member can file a grievance but only the Union can take it to the next level. Exact instructions are in the Master Agreement. However, we suggest you get a trained Union representative to help you. Anyone who would like to learn how, see the Chief Steward about becoming a Union steward. The Union will always help a member file.
I'm still on probation, can you help me if I need it?
Yes. Article 6 of the Master Agreement says that we can represent you and insure that your rights are maintained just as much as any employee. You are also covered under the rules of the MSPB. (Merit System Promotions Board) Another item well worth considering is that if a probationary employee is fired, they will require Union assistance to file a grievance, which is your best channel for reinstatement.
Who should I contact first if I need assistance from the Union?
Any Union steward , You can find out who is a steward or E-Board member by looking on the Union bulletin board What does the Local President do and what are his duties? Per our by-laws, the local Union president is the Chief Executive Officer and basically responsible for all local Union activities.
What does the Local President do and what are his duties?
Per our by-laws, the local Union president is the Chief Executive Officer and basically responsible for all local Union activities.
What are the Vice-Presidents duties?
The Vice President assists the President in his duties. The Vice President is also the acting President in the Presidents absence.
I am an Administrative Employee with the Agency, can I join the Union?
Yes, Administrative Personnel can join the Union, and have the same rights and benefits as current members.
Workman's Compensation Program
If you are hurt on the job you have rights under the Federal Employee's Compensation Act, which is defined in 20 CFR and CA-810. Your basic rights are and responsibilities to remember:
1. Fill out the CA-1, which can be obtained from http://webapps.dol.gov/libraryforms/, your supervisor or a Workers Compensation Specialist. If you are injured and unable to fill out the CA-1, your supervisor is responsible in filling it out and turning it in a Workers Compensation Specialist and its your responsibility to follow up to review and sign it as early as possible.
2. You have the right to pick your doctor, just be sure it is a licensed medical doctor.
3. It is your responsiblity to get all medical forms mailed, faxed, or electronically sent in to the Workers Compensation Specialist. Most medical offices will do this for you, but be sure to follow up on it.
4. OWCP at the Department of labor who handles your claim is slow, so be patient
5. You have the right and obligation to follow your doctors orders to the letter. This means management has little to say on this and can not harass you in anyway.
Management is entitled to updates, but not every day or every other day by calling you.
EMPLOYEE'S RIGHT TO Union REPRESENTATION
The right of employees to have Union representation at investigatory interviews was announced by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 1975 case (NLRB vs. Weingarten, Inc. 420 U.S. 251, 88 LRRM 2689). These rights have become known as the Weingarten rights. Employees have Weingarten rights only during investigatory interviews.
An investigatory interview occurs when a supervisor questions an employee to obtain information which could be used as a basis for discipline or asks an employee to defend his or her conduct. If an employee has a reasonable belief that discipline or other adverse consequences may result from what he or she says, the employee has the right to request Union representation. Management is not required to inform the employee of his/her Weingarten rights; it is the employees responsibility to know and request.
When the employee makes the request for a Union representative to be present management has three options:
(1) it can stop questioning until the representative arrives.
(2) it can call off the interview or,
(3) it can tell the employee that it will call off the interview unless the employee voluntarily gives up his/her rights to a Union representative (an option the employee should always refuse.)
Employers will often assert that the only role of a Union representative in an investigatory interview is to observe the discussion. The Supreme Court, however, clearly acknowledges a representative's right to assist and counsel workers during the interview.
The Supreme Court has also ruled that during an investigatory interview management must inform the Union representative of the subject of the interrogation. The representative must also be allowed to speak privately with the employee before the interview. During the questioning, the representative can interrupt to clarify a question or to object to confusing or intimidating tactics. While the interview is in progress the representative can not tell the employee what to say but may advise them on how to answer a question. At the end of the interview the Union representative can add information to support the employee's case.
On June 15, 2004, The National Labor Relations Board ruled by a 3-2 vote that employees who work in a nonUnionized workplace are not entitled under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act to have a coworker accompany them to an interview with their employer, even if the affected employee reasonably believes that the interview might result in discipline. This decision effectively reversed the July 2000 decision of the Clinton Board that extended Weingarten Rights to nonUnion employees.