Federal employees’ union files 14 more charges against Office of Personnel Management

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The American Federation of Government Employees has filed an additional 14 unfair labor practice charges against the Office of Personnel Management, FedScoop has learned.

The move brings the total number of charges brought against the agency to 29, and comes amid calls from staff for management at the agency to bargain with union representatives over the return of employees to the office.

News of the additional charges come after FedScoop earlier this month reported on tensions that have flared as OPM staff raised concerns over its failure to implement departmentwide file-sharing technology.

At the time, agency sources speaking to FedScoop said the inability of certain staff to access casework files digitally had increased pressure from management to return to in-person work before federal facilities were ready to be reopened and before a union bargaining process was complete.

The 14 complaints are understood to be almost identical, but name multiple managers because of a lack of clarity over which OPM managers are leading the bargaining process with the union. They have been filed with the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), which administers the labor-management relations program for 2.1 million non-postal federal employees worldwide.

OPM Director Kiran Ahuja sent an email to staff saying employees would return to in-person work on April 25. However, union leaders say this partial end to telework was imposed without the required negotiation and that the agency’s facilities were not ready to accommodate staff.

Leaders of AFGE’s Local 32, which represents OPM employees, say the agency must address workplace and logistical issues before any return to physical worksites. According to the union, these include a lack of running water in parts of the agency’s building, no food for employees, inadequate parking, no plans for social distancing, and a lack of available workstations.

President Biden in August last year nominated specialist labor attorney Kurt Rumsfield as general counsel at the FLRA, however, he has yet to be confirmed in the post. Federal labor relations experts say this could slow down the resolution of the claims filed against OPM by AFGE.

OPM declined to comment.

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American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), telework
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