IT/AS Telework Continues, Remote Work Begins

Arrion Brown

July 18, 2023

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We have great news to share with the Support Services Division, Information Technology and Accounting Service (IT/AS) sector!

The union has reached an agreement with management on three MOUs regarding work from home. We have agreed to extend the Accounting Service Center and Information Technology Telework MOUs. We have also reached an agreement on a full remote work MOU for several positions in Information Technology.

A key to the success of the MOUs was the valuable input we received from the membership. Our negotiating strategy included presenting management with statements from workers about their thoughts on telework. We received over 70 statements from our members in which they shared overwhelming positive opinions on the telework programs! Our members have valued the telework pilot program’s ability to make them feel more focused and productive while doing their jobs, the savings on gas and other transportation costs, and not having to commute back and forth to work, which has added quality personal and family time to their lives.

A management official said that they had taken the time to read every statement from our members. Thank you to all who submitted statements for our telework negotiations. Your words made a difference.

For the IT/AS Center telework agreements, we were able to successfully negotiate IT/AS seniority into the schedule selection and award process. Under the previous MOUs, seniority was not specifically defined. This allowed management to determine what seniority they could use when they determined schedules. This was not the intent of the union at the time that the previous MOUs were signed. The union’s position has always been that Article 37 defines how seniority is decided for IT/ AS. Management should not have the option to decide what seniority to use to determine schedules. This was a success that brings uniformity to the schedule selection process, and gives respect to our existing Article 37 seniority language.

One area where we were not successful in changing the MOUs was removing the union’s inability to file grievances against management's decisions under the telework program. Management still refuses to allow the union to challenge their telework decisions under their belief that pilot program decisions should be exempt from the union enforcing your rights as workers. While the Support Services Division leadership does not agree with that position, we encountered two obstacles that did not allow us to make a change to this policy during these negotiations.

The first obstacle was the legacy of not allowing pilot program decisions to be subject to the grievance process. This legacy dates back to the four, ten-hour day, schedule pilot program and continued under the initial telework pilots. It is difficult to overcome a legacy such as this, but not impossible.

The other obstacle was our lack of issues raised during the telework program that could be subject to the grievance process. This was a hollow argument from management that we will fight to overcome in the next round of telework negotiations next year. This is also where our membership will need to become involved by bringing problems that we feel should be grieved to the attention of local leadership, although we cannot grieve them at the time. We can take those issues back to the table as examples of why the grievance process is needed for the telework MOUs.

We are very proud to have been able to reach a deal with management on these MOUs. We look forward to improving the telework MOUs in the future with the involvement of our membership. ■

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