Frequently employees ask what they get for their dues. They get a lot.
NTEU and its predecessor unions negotiated compressed and flexible schedules, part-time-employment flexibility, and many other workplace benefits. We take many of these benefits for granted now, not remembering that they’ve been hard-fought at the negotiating table by unions, with the agency frequently opposing these improvements. Once those improvements are implemented, however, many managers find they love them as much or more than their employees.
If you are a dues-paying member, you learned back in January that NTEU Chapter 280, along with AFGE Local 3331, successfully negotiated a version of the MaxiFlex schedule with EPA headquarters management. The Headquarters Maxiflex Pilot Program agreement was signed on January 24, 2017, and is supposed to be implemented soon, we're told.
This HQ version of the Maxiflex schedule allows, with some unfortunate restrictions, an employee to complete her or his 80-hour-biweekly-pay requirement in less than 10 days, using just about any combination of hours worked, credit hours, and other time off so long as all of it adds up to 80 at the end of the pay period.
The focus of Maxiflex is this:
Does the work get done in a quality manner and on time.
The schedule will be available to NTEU and AFGE bargaining units once the Agency develops and offers training to its employees and managers. This is, obviously, taking a while. The agreement promises, however, that implementation of the program “will not be unreasonably delayed.” We continue pushing management to implement the schedule forthwith.
Features of this agreement include:
- completing one’s work anytime between 5:30 and 8:00 p.m. (with certain caveats);
- possibility of a standing approval to earn up to ten credit hours per pay period, provided you have work to do;
- relaxed core hours between 10:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.; and
- the ability for supervisors to waive the agreement’s restrictive portions on a case-by-case basis.
The Maxiflex schedule we negotiated is by no means perfect. It’s overly complicated and occasionally internally inconsistent. But like any compromise, we could not get everything we wanted. We proposed a simpler, clearer, more streamlined agreement that was completely rejected by management. But bureaucracy loves complicated arrangements. The rejection was unfortunate because our version would have been easier for managers to implement and understand, while ensuring proper accountability. This agreement, while flawed, nonetheless brings substantially more flexibility than before to headquarters.
Our hope is that managers and employees will see the benefits of this schedule even with this less-than-ideal version, and not only retain it after SafeTrack, but also agree to enhance its provisions.
We will be offering several union sessions to explain the features of the new schedule and provide NTEU Chapter 280’s views on the agreement. You can download the memo and agreement here.