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Corps - Union Contract Version Date: December 26, 2010
Table of Contents 1. The Five-Year Rule 2. Notification of Employees of the Union's Availability - Resolved 3. Emphasis on Promoting/Transferring from Within 4. Equivalency of Peace Corps Employee Pay Grades with Other Federal Agencies 5. Union Seat on "Peace Corps Leadership Academyº Review Panel 6. Staff Input into Supervisor Performance Evaluations 7. The Suggestion Box 8. Headquarters vs. Field Grade Levels 9. Gay and Lesbian Employee Rights - Resolved 10. Post-Federal Career Peace Corps Service Time Accrual 11. Streamlining Leave Donations 12. Overuse of TEMP Employees and Contractors - Resolved 13. Union Website Link on Peace Corps' Intranet Homepage 14. Inclusion/Exclusion of Employee Classes within the CBU 15. Union Logo and Notation on Peace Corps' Internet Site 16. Inclusion of a "Union Forum" on Peace Corps' Guru Site 17. Union Articles (or a "Union Corner") in the Human Resources Newsletter 18. Union Membership on Peace Corps's Human Resource (HR) Council 19. Retreating from Staff Retreats 20. Management Orientations on CBA and the Union 21. Union Quarterly Meetings with the Peace Corps Director - Update 22. Briefing the Union on Reorganizations, and Generally Tightening-up the Reor ganization Review Process - Update 23. Allowance of Peace Corps Employees to Serve as Peace Corps, Peace Corps Res ponse, and Americorps Volunteers in Leave-Without-Pay (LWOP) Status Without Time Accumulation in Their Five-Year Employment 24. Employee Personal Use of PDA, Cell Phones, and other Remote Devices 25. First Aid and CPR Training for Employees 26. Agency Sponsored On-Site Daycare Services at HQ 27. Recognitions of Union Officers' and Shop Stewards' Work in their Personnel Perf ormance Plans 28. General Review and Cleanup of CBU Roster - Resolved 29. Annual Statistical Report on Peace Corps Performance Awards 30. Workload within the Peace Corps Office of Human Resources 31. Flexibility on Transit Subsidies - Resolved 32. Allowance of Limited Access by the Union Local to the ªPeace Corps Allº Email L ist, and other Listservs 33. Background Checks: Policy, Practice, and Intent 34. ªLabor/Employee Relationsº webpage of ªHR Centralº Intranet Section 35. New RRO Employee Union Presentation 36. Rewriting of MS 655 ± Employee Grievance Procedure 37. Overtime Availability for Teams with Vacancies 38. Annual Peace Corps Human Capital Survey 39. Union Presentations at NRT and Quad Conference Meetings 40. Vacancy Announcements Shorter than Fourteen Days 41. Promoting Non-Competitive Hiring Status Throughout the Federal Government 42. Planning for Staff Discontinuity, Overlap, and Knowledge-Transfer 43. Union Membership on Executive and HRM Management Selection Panels
44. New Employee Orientations (NEOs) and Contact with New Employees 45. Employee Personal Identification Information (PII) 46. Database of Hidden Employee Skills 47. Instituting a Formal Process for Approving an Employee Anything Other than a Full 30-Month 2nd Tour 48. Union Officer and Steward Work Mitigation Fund 49. Unnecessary Reliance on "Expert" Employment Hiring 50. Number of Politically Appointed Positions within the Peace Corps 51. Listing of Union Officers and Stewards in the Peace Corps Directory 52. Tracking of Union Officers' and Stewards' Agency Time Use via Timepeace 53. Official and Unofficial Policies Regarding Credit and Comp Time 54. Union-Management Disagreement on Overtime Availability 55. Allocation of "Five Year Rule" Extensions 56. Speed and Transparancy in Approving Grade-Series (Career Ladder) Promotions 57. Encouragement of America's Union Members to Consider Peace Corps Service
Issue Discussion 1. The Five-Year Rule - Most of Peace Corps' staff is under a legislatively man dated five year employment limit. While AFSCME Local 3548 recognizes the benefi ts of this law, it has also seen the drawbacks that come with it (loss of instit utional memory, office discontinuity, etc). There also appears to be unintended consequences of the five year rule, such as not allowing Temporary Employees to immediately apply for permanent employment after their short-term temporary pos itions end. AFSCME Local 3548 recommends a three step approach to this issue: 1) Request a report be written by Peace Corps' General Counsel or the Congressio nal Research Service that reviews the legislative and regulatory history of the Five-Year Rule, and documents any previous efforts to study the issue; 2) Upon review of this historical analysis, sponsor an independent analysis (e.g., Cong ressional Research Services, GSA, OPM, etc.) of the law's effectiveness and bene fit to the agency, as well as any disproportionate implementation of the law's u tilization; and, 3) After determining how the legislation might be changed (if at all) to benefit the Agency, its goals, and its employees, Peace Corps Managem ent should work with the Union to lobby Congress for needed changes. 2. Notification of Employees of the Union's Availability - As per Article 2, Se ction G of the Peace Corps Union Contract, the Union Local would like to have th e Director send an email out to all Peace Corps Employees at a designated date e very year. The email should remind all employees "of the Union's availability t o act as a representative at any formal discussion between one or more represent atives concerning any grievance or personnel policy or practice or other conditi ons of employment." As far as we can tell, this action has not happened in many years ± if ever. The Union proposes that this be made part of the Director's Labor Day message to the Employees. Update 9/3/2010 - For the 2010 Labor Day message, the Director incorporated a me ntion of the Union and its availabiility as requested by the Union. The Union a nd Management are going to try and include this in all subsequent Labor Day mess ages from the Director, making it an annual tradition. The Union considers this issue resolved.
3. Emphasis on Promoting/Transferring from Within - There is a concern that Man agement at Peace Corps is more interested in bringing in new external staff memb ers rather than promoting from within the agency, or giving other staff members the ability to transfer to other positions within the agency when they become va cant. AFSCME Local 3548 would like to see a directive from the Director's Office that encourages the Human Resources Office (as well as managers in general) to c onsider promotions and transfers from within the agency before they consider ext ernal candidates. In addition, the Union recommends that any upcoming internal vacancies be posted on the agency intranet for a short period of time before the y are advertised externally. This would allow internal candidates the opportuni ty to make a pitch for a job before outside candidates are considered. Interest ingly enough, the newly created Office of Overseas Selection, Recruitment and Su pport, has begun to make just such an effort. The Union applauds that Office's in novation. 4. Equivalency of Peace Corps Employee Pay Grades with Other Federal Agencies There is a concern that a gap exists between Peace Corps pay grades and other F ederal agency pay grades for employees doing similar work. Local 3548 recommend s that Peace Corps undertake a broad spectrum study to determine if such a gap t ruly exists. If it does exist, then Local 3548 would like to start working with Peace Corps Management to rectify this problem. 5. Union Seat on "Peace Corps Leadership Academyº Review Panel - Several years ag o, the ªPeace Corps Leadership Academy (PCLA)º was created to help train future lead ers within Peace Corps. AFSCME Local 3548 endorses this program, especially whe n it helps train employees at the Labor level to apply for positions at the Mana gement level. In 2009, for the first time, Regional Recruiting Office staff wer e allowed to compete for the open slots within the new PCLA cohort. Again, the Union applauds this move! However, the Union is also interested in seeing one of the seats on the cohort selection panel be a Union representative. The Union believes that since this project opens opportunities up in Management for Labor level employees, it is logical that the Union ensure that everything is being c onducted fairly in the selection process, especially for those CBU and/or Union member applicants who may have been outspoken on issues with Management. 6. Staff Input into Supervisor Performance Evaluations - Currently, when a supe rvisor is reviewed by their supervisor in the Peace Corps, that lower supervisor 's staff are rarely polled for input on the evaluation. Staff should have the o pportunity to provide feedback to the person performing their boss' performance evaluation. As a Federal agency serving the public good, we believe Peace Corps would be a stronger organization with such a system in place. 7. The Suggestion Box - Back in August of 2008, the agency created an online "S uggestion Box" that could be accessed by staff via the Peace Corps' intranet. R ecommendations to it could be made anonymously, or with the contributor's identi ty revealed. While AFSCME Local 3548 supported this concept, there have been re ports that recommendations made to the suggestion box are not acknowledged or ut ilized. The Union recommends that the Director's Office review the process for re trieving, tracking, and acknowledging input to the suggestion box. 8. Headquarters vs. Field Grade Levels - A concern exists that equal pay for eq ual work is not being fairly distributed across the Peace Corps staff. It is be lieved that Headquarters staff, even those working in non-managerial positions, are paid at disproportionately higher grade levels then their counterparts in th e domestic regional offices, as well as those in overseas posts. In addition, t here is a concern that ªPerformance Step Increasesº are allocated more frequently at HQ than in the field. The Union recommends that the Director's Office undertake a
review of these issues to either dispel any unfounded concerns, or as a first s tep in rectifying a problem that may exist. 9. Gay and Lesbian Employee Rights ± The Union would like to see equal treatment for the partners/spouses of Peace Corps' gay and lesbian employees, as compared to the spouses of its heterosexual employees. Gay and lesbian Peace Corps employe es are serving in (and have successfully served in) overseas capacities, many ac companied by their partners (see ªhttp://www.lgbrpcv.org/articles/11_03_jorgensen. htmº). Anecdotally, the Union is aware that Peace Corps current policy deters qua lified gay applicants from pursuing an overseas position. The Union requests th at Peace Corps join other Federal Agencies in adapting progressive domestic part ner policies, such as those of the US State Department policy on ªDesignated Membe rs of Householdº policy that allows embassy staff with domestic partners to enjoy more household member rights. Update - 9/17/2009 - The Director's Memo of 9/17/2009 corrects this injustice in a s far as the law allows. The Union is very pleased with this action. 10. Post-Federal Career Peace Corps Service Time Accrual - Because of a quark i n the Peace Corps' organic legislation, it is extremely difficult for retired Fe deral employees to serve in the Peace Corps and get their time-in-service as a P eace Corps Volunteer credited for retirement purposes. The wording of the Peace Corps Act would require that a retired Federal employee return from their volun teer service, and then become re-employed by the Federal government for a period of time. It is the Union's belief that this legal requirement is an unintended and outdated consequence of the legislative language (as it was originally enac ted) that is now discriminatory towards older PCVs, and seeks the help of the Di rector's Office in lobbying Congress to correct this legislative language. 11. Streamlining Leave Donations - The Peace Corps staff family is very generou s, and when one of its members are sick or in a life's crisis, they want to help . They can do so by contributing Annual Leave into a fellow staffer's Leave Fun d once that person has been cleared as having a bona fide need. Unfortunately, the current system does not make it easy for staff members to identify who is cu rrently eligible to receive Annual Leave donations. AFSCME Local 3548 recommend s that an intranet site webpage be set up and maintained to identify currently e ligible leave recipients and what their needs are. 12. Overuse of TEMP Employees and Contractors ± The Peace Corps Manual allows for the hiring of Temporary Employees that ªare not subject to the merit selection an d promotion procedures.º (MS 601, Section 4.3). Experts, Advisors and Contractors can also be hired, but not if the purpose is to bypass the merit selection proc ess. Of late, the Union has noticed a high number of new employees in the categ ories of Temp and Contractors. Between March 15, 2009 and August 30, 2009, 34% of all employees brought on to the Peace Corps were within these categories. Wh ile the purposes behind these hires are not easily discernable to the Union, the Union believes the practice is becoming more and more common, and may be done t o circumvent Federal hiring standards. The Union is concerned that these employ ment strategies are, at best, simply being abused or ignored. Update 9/9/2010 - Over the past year, and especially since the Williams Administ ration has taken reigns of the Agency, the Union has noticed a distinctive shift away from the hirings of Temp Employees, Experts, Advisors, and Contractors. M ost recently, the Agency scrapped plans to hire Contract Recruiters and Placemen t Officers, and instead hired these folks as FTE employees. The Union had been quite vocal about its concerns with such plans, and it is clear that Management has heard and considered the Union's position. 13. Union Website Link on Peace Corps' Intranet Homepage ± The Union would like t o set up a link between the Peace Corps Intranet Homepage and our Union Website.
What we envision is a box on the Intranet's homepage that has room for a small amount of text that can be manipulated by the Union to introduce changing subje cts, and then a link to the Council 26 website where the reader can go for more information. The box may appear as follows: UNION CORNER AFSCME Local 3548 Information brought to you by your Union Local "D id you know that you have 4 payperiods or more to use Work Comp Hours?" Click HE RE for more info Such a link will show Peace Corps' commitment to a strong Labor-Management rela tionship. 14. Inclusion/Exclusion of Employee Classes within the CBU ± When the current ver sion of the Peace Corps / Union Contract was signed in 1995, several classes of employees were excluded from inclusion within the CBU (See Article 1, Section C of the Contract). The Union requests a review of whether or not it is appropria te that each of these classes still be excluded. 15. Union Logo and Notation on Peace Corps' Internet Site - As evidence that th e Peace Corps is a union-friendly workplace, the Union requests notation on the Peace Corps internet site stating that the Peace Corps is "a proud to partner wi th AFSCME Local 3548 / Council 26 (AFL-CIO) to develop a strong Labor-Management relationship." 16. Inclusion of a "Union Forum" on Peace Corps' Guru Site ± A request was made t o Management in February of 2009 to create a Union Forum on the Peace Corps' Gur u site. The Guru resource helps facilitate a free flow of ideas and thoughts am ong employees. The Union's request was again re-stated in a memo to Management in late June of 2009. The Union has yet to receive a response to this request. G uru appears to be an ideal venue for an open discussion within the CBU, and betw een the CBU and Management. We are perplexed as to why we have been met with si lence on this issue. 17. Union Articles (or a "Union Corner") in the Human Resources Newsletter - Th e Union has previously requested space in the quarterly Human Resources Newslett er ("HRM Today"). The Union was denied this request on the basis that the newsl etter "belongs to HRM as an information portal for staff." The Union believes t hat in a public agency with a contract between its workforce and a Union, dissem ination of information about personnel issues should be a joint effort. The res ponse from Management also suggested that the Union create our "own information portal to staff." We believe this is the opposite of what we should be striving towards, which is an US vs. THEM mentality. A properly labeled article (or ded icated section) in "HRM Today" stating that this was information put into the ne wsletter by the Union should not be confusing to anyone. Instead, it would adva nce the belief among staff that Management and the Union are working in conjunct ion to mutual ends. 18. Union Membership on Peace Corps's Human Resource (HR) Council - A Union req uest to participate in the HR Council was similarly rejected. Membership on the HR Council would negate the need to set up another Committee as called for in t he Union Contract, the Joint Labor-Management Committee (Article 24). It is the Union's belief that two such entities would be duplicative, and would again add to the feeling of an US vs. THEM culture (a belief we are trying to avoid). 19. Retreating from Staff Retreats ± Many offices have cut their Annual Staff Ret reats in an effort to save money. We in the Union understand the pressure to cu t something like a Staff Retreat when faced with a budget crisis. However, the Union believes that Staff Retreats are an important annual event for many office
s to reflect on their work and priorities. With the recent increase in Peace Cor ps' Appropriations, the Union requests that you ensure that each office keep Staff Retreats as a high budget priority. 20. Management Orientations on CBA and the Union ± Many managers are ignorant of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), and sometimes even of the fact that a Union exists. Recent examples of this include the ªCore List of Staff Expectatio ns Project,º the ªHQ Building Restructuring Project,º and the IPS on Probationary Peri ods, all of which had progressed quite far without any efforts to brief the Unio n. It is only after the Union brought these issues to Management's attention did they agree to brief the Union on them. Further, Management has (at times) told supervisors that they should not (or at least that it is ªoptionalº) for them to att end the Union Briefing at their New Employee Orientation (contrary to Article 2, Section G). The Union would like to request that all new Peace Corps Managemen t employees be required (in addition to the NEO Union Briefing) to attend a onehour information session about the Union and the CBA upon their initial employme nt with Peace Corps. Furthermore, we believe all Management employees would ben efit from an annual one-hour refresher course on the Union and the CBA. Such se ssions could be conducted jointly by the Union and Management's Labor-Relations re presentative. 21. Union Quarterly Meetings with the Peace Corps Director ± The Union believes t hat the Peace Corps Director, as well as the Union, would benefit from a sixty m inute, quarterly, face-to-face meeting. Under the present Union-Agency communic ations protocol, the Director only gets information about the Union that has bee n filtered through various management layers. Likewise, the Union gets its info rmation only from a single Management source after decisions have been filtered down numerous layers. The Union believes this is inefficient, and creates unnece ssary distrust. A quarterly meeting would ensure that any problems that have be en unduly delayed in resolving can be quickly dispensed with. Update - Summer 2010 - The Union is quite pleased with the progress being made i n the Partnership Forum recently, and feels that its voice is being heard for th e first time in quite a while. Therefore, the Union does not feel that this is as critical a need as it once was. 22. Briefing the Union on Reorganizations, and Generally Tightening-up the Reor ganization Review Process - The Union contract allows the Union to comment on (a nd officially object to) Peace Corps reorganizations. However, the contract doe s not provide a process by which Peace Corps' Management may brief the Union on the reorganization. Management often briefs the reorganization's affected CBU m embers, and the Union could sit in on that briefing to eliminate the need for an additional meeting. Additionally, over the past couple of years, the Union has made several requests of Management regarding the Office Reorganization process , but have generally been met with silence. For example, early in 2009 we were asked by Management for a ªPreliminary Reviewº of a reorganization planned for the M aster's International unit. We gave a preliminary nod to this reorganization, but stated we were looking forward to a formal review. Our requests for the status of that review, and the reorganization in general, have been met with silence. Likewise, our requests for a final signed copy of reorganization memos have als o been met with silence. Update - Fall 2010 - The Union has seen a lot of progress made in the past five or six months in ensuring that the Union and employees are properly briefed, and their comments are considered, before a reorganization takes place. For the ti me being, the Union is quite happy with the process in place, and the strides be ing made to correct problems in the process. 23. Allowance of Peace Corps Employees to Serve as Peace Corps, Peace Corps Res ponse, and Americorps Volunteers in Leave-Without-Pay (LWOP) Status Without Time
Accumulation in Their Five-Year Employment - Currently, the Peace Corps' Union Contract allows for employees to serve as Peace Corps and Americorps volunteers in LWOP status (Article 9, Section F). However, Peace Corps Management has inte rpreted this section of the contract to mean that the clock on a person's 5-year employment with the Peace Corps continues to tick away during their service. W e feel that this is a misinterpretation and misrepresentation of the contract. We believe that the contract section makes no sense if interpreted in that fashi on, since a typical Peace Corps service period (including training) would be nea rly half of a person's five year tour of employment. We feel that the intent of this contract section is similar to why academic institutions grant faculty mem bers "sabbaticals" to develop their professional skills and knowledge. However, that would only make sense if the employees had a reasonable opportunity to ret urn to Peace Corps employment and put their knowledge to work for the Peace Corp s. 24. Employee Personal Use of PDA, Cell Phones, and other Remote Devices ± More an d more Agency employees are being "issued" cell phones, Aircards, Personal Digit al Assistants (PDAs), and other remote digital devices for use when they are awa y from the office. This, in fact, is a way for the Agency to ensure people rema in "working" even during their off hours. When the employees are issued the dev ices, they are being told that they can only be used for official business. Thi s is creating a situation where employees are required to carry around two devic es, one for personal use and one for official use. The Union contends that such devices are issued for the convenience and efficiency of the Agency. Therefore , the Union believes that such devices should be viewed as an extension of offic e electronic devices (computers, fax machines, copiers, etc), wherein Federal po licies allow employees to use such devices for personal use, within accepted and enumerated conditions. 25. First Aid and CPR Training for Employees ± Article 23, Section F of the Peace Corps Union Contract states that Peace Corps will sponsor First Aid and CPR tra ining for any employees who would like to take part in it. The Union would like to recommend that a central budget be set up in the Office of Human Resources t hat can be used by various HQ and Regional offices to hire the instructors and e quipment needed to partake in First Aid and CPR training. 26. Agency Sponsored On-Site Daycare Services at HQ ± Daycare services are genera lly expensive, difficult to find, and time-consuming for employees to deal with, both before and after work. Several other Federal Agencies (such as the Depart ment of Commerce at its Silver Spring facility) have implemented on-site daycare services for its employees ± With Tremendous Success! The anxiety, time, and exp ense that such a service lifts from its employees is translated into increased p roductivity and happiness in a parent's work for the agency. The Union Local, in partnership with the Agency, would like to explore the creation of such a servic e for Peace Corps employees at its Headquarters facility. 27. Recognitions of Union Officers' and Shop Stewards' Work in their Personnel Perf ormance Plans ± When a Union Officer's or Shop Steward's Performance Plan is drawn up, there is currently no notation or allowance made for time needed to deal with P eace Corps-Union contractual issues. This is despite the fact that the contract allows those employees to work on official Agency time on many issues. We woul d like to request that those Performance Plans be written to include a statement about a person's work on behalf of Labor-Management relations so that it can be p roperly reflected upon when a person's annual accomplishments are evaluated. 28. General Review and Cleanup of CBU Roster ± In the Spring of 2009, the Union r eceived a printout from the Human Resources Management (HRM) office with everyon e's CBU status listed. However, we were very surprised to see the name of our Uni on Local President (Aaron King) labeled as ªOutside the CBUº. This, of course, rais ed the question as to who else may be mislabeled as being inside or outside the
CBU. In mid-June of 2009, we requested that the Office of Human Resources condu ct an in-depth analysis of the Peace Corps employee roster and ensure that every one is labeled correctly as to their CBU status. We also requested that the fin al roster be in an electronic format - such as Microsoft Excel - with email addr ess and phone numbers listed, something that was not done for the previous copie s given to us. When no reply was received from Management by the Fall of 2009, the Union developed, refined, and delivered to Management a list of about 300 em ployees who we believed may be in the CBU (but are mislabeled) and asked them to review the list and give us feedback. At that time, we were told that availabl e resources will not allow this review and verification effort to be conducted q uickly. We pointed out to Management that this issue is of a high importance to the Union, and believe HRM should devote more resources to quickly finishing th is task. Update - In the atmosphere of friendlier relationships between the Union and Man agement that began after the Williams Administration took over in the Fall of 20 09, the Union again expressed concern about the list of CBU employees. Starting in the Spring of 2010, a newly appointed Labor-Relations Chief and the Local Pr esident began a process to assess every employee's CBU status. On January 5, 20 11, the Union delivered to Management a memo stating that it believed this matte r has been mostly resolved after an extensive review by Management and the Union . While some minor details still need to be worked out (such as the status of J ob Series 1101 and 1102, and a better means of reading out future data from the personnel computer database), Management and the Union have generally resolved t his issue. The Union is quite pleased with the cooperation the Williams Adminis tration has shown in this regard. 29. Annual Statistical Report on Peace Corps Performance Awards ± A sense exists among some Peace Corps employees that the number of awards given to employees is unevenly distributed within the Grade Scale. Article 17, Section B of the Peac e Corps Union Contract requires HRM to provide the Union with an annual statisti cal report on how Performance Awards are being distributed. As far as we can te ll from our conversations with Management, this has not been done in years (if e ver). Therefore, we would like to request that a Joint Management-Union team be created to determine the scope, breadth, and parameters for future statistical reports each year, and for a study that will analyze the practice of distributin g awards (including ªCash Awardsº) over the past eight years (e.g., number of awards per grade level, mean and median size of awards per grade level with standard d eviations, weighted analysis of headquarters vs. regional vs. post awards, etc.) . Thereafter, as per the contract, we would expect this report to be generated on an annual basis at a specific time each year, and sent to the Union leadershi p. 30. Workload within the Peace Corps Office of Human Resources ± The Union Local i s concerned about an overworked and understaffed Office of Human Resources (HRM) . While numerous anecdotal complaints exist about the efficiency within that of fice, it has been the Union's observation that the management and workforce employ ees there are extremely dedicated, hardworking, and competent ± They are simply ov erworked and understaffed!!! Consider this ± Due to the five-year rule, Peace Cor ps must deal with a constantly changing and evolving workforce. Numerous issues , questions, and concerns surrounding this matter exist that would not otherwise need to be addressed and re-addressed in another agency. In addition, Peace Co rps employs overseas staff, and has regional staff spread around the country. T he Union would propose that the Director's Office undertake a review of the Office of Human Resources staff allocation at the earliest possible time, and determin e if more personnel (or possibly a reorganization) are needed in that office. I n particular, the Union would like to request that additional administrative ass istance be allocated to the Employee/Labor Relations unit. With near and long t erm plans that the Union Local has in the works, we believe extra staff is (and
will be) needed there. 31. Flexibility on Transit Subsidies ± Many Peace Corps employees utilize means o ther than subways and buses (such as bicycles) to cut down on the amount of auto mobile traffic during rush hours; which is the real purpose of the transit subsi dy. Peace Corps Union Local 3548 would like to explore the agency's flexibility t o offer subsidies, perhaps in conjunction with Peace Corps' official ªGreen Team,º suc h as bicycle maintenance subsidies, to non-mass transit users. Update - Since the Williams Administration has come on board in August of 2009, the Union has noted some flexibility on this matter, in particular the allowance for Bicyclists to received some subsidy. The Union applauds the agency's "Gree n Team" on this effort. 32. Allowance of Limited Access by the Union Local to the ªPeace Corps Allº Email L ist, and other Listservs ± There are times when access by the Union to certain lis tservs maintained by Peace Corps (such as the ªPeace Corps Allº email listserv) woul d be useful to both the Union and Peace Corps Management. Our request to work c ooperatively with Management to disseminate such information has generally been greeted coolly by Management. Management has agreed to let the Union use this s ystem ªgenerally no more than twice a year,º and has argued that the Contract (Artic le 3, Section R) does not give us any rights in this regard. The Union disagrees with that interpretation of the contract (also pointing out that Article 22, Se ction F could also be interpreted to give us that right), and in mid-June asked Management for clarification. The response from Management was that the Union s hould develop its own CBU listserv, which we have since done (A CBU listserv sho uld, in fact, be part of the regular personnel setup as new employees come on bo ard. They should have their email address added to all the various agency lists ervs that would be appropriate to their office, including a CBU listserv if they are actually in the CBU.) However, it is the Union's opinion that Management an d Labor should be working together, seamlessly, to disseminate info to Peace Cor ps employees. In general, the Union feels that Management's attitude towards this issue is, again, one of US vs THEM. 33. Background Checks: Policy, Practice, and Intent - The Union believes a rev iew should be undertaken of the process used to inform staff vacancy applicants of the requirements for background investigations. As Peace Corps attracts a hi gh percentage of staff from outside the existing Federal workforce, many are unc lear on the requirements for public trust or other clearances. The majority of job postings lack clear explanation of the level of clearance or investigation r equired to be undertaken, and HR (and hiring managers) is frequently ill informe d, unaware of the process, and unable to explain it to those applying for positi ons. Because applicants are subjecting themselves to some risk from potential re jection (even after they've accepted a position and left their previous job), and a significant intrusion into their private lives, they should have the opportuni ty and full assistance of the Agency in understanding the scrutiny and process t hey will have to go through. At a minimum, a well produced packet of information explaining the investigations and paperwork would be an improvement over the cu rrent process. 34. ªLabor/Employee Relationsº webpage of ªHR Centralº Intranet Section ± Currently, thi s section of the Peace Corps intranet site is nearly devoid of information about the Union. For example, there is no link on this webpage, or the whole intrane t site at all, where a person can view or download the Peace Corps-Union Contrac t. The Union would like to work with Management to redesign this section of the website so that it is more useful and informative. The Union is interested in making the content (and future updates) of this Intranet webpage a joint initiat ive between Management and the Union. 35. New RRO Employee Union Presentation ± Because Regional Recruiting Office (RRO
) employees don't receive a normal Orientation similar to their HQ counterparts, t hey are not presently getting a normal Union briefing as allowed for under Artic le 2, Section G, of the contract. The Union would like to work with Management to require that all new RRO employees review a PowerPoint presentation on the Un ion as part of their ªEntry on Dutyº (EOD) check-off list of activities, just as the y are required to for ethics training. 36. Rewriting of MS 655 ± Employee Grievance Procedure ± This Peace Corps Policy do cument, last revised on March 21, 1984, is woefully out-of-date. For example, i t doesn't even mention the Peace Corps Union, or the ability of CBU members to be represented by the Union. This document needs to be jointly rewritten by Manage ment and the Union. 37. Overtime Availability for Teams with Vacancies ± The Union requests that Mana gement begin using (or use more) overtime pay where teams have open vacancies / lapsed positions. High staff turnover rates, and a time consuming hiring process , often leaves teams with vacancies for weeks or months. Staff are expected to ªf ill the gapº, and work extra hours to make up for lapsed and vacant positions. Cr edit and Comp time may work in the short term, or in exceptional situations, but employees quickly reach their cap. In teams that are short-staffed, employees do not have the ability to take days off to use Credit/Comp hours. In addition, Managers (and Agency Employees in general) are generally unaware of the Overtim e Rights guaranteed to them in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). 38. Annual Peace Corps Human Capital Survey ± The Peace Corps annually conducts a survey of its employees about agency working conditions. Because of a lack of institutional memory caused by the Five-Year Rule, the Union does not know for h ow many years this survey has been occurring. However, it is clear from the CBA that the Union should be intimately involved (if not solely responsible for) th e survey's dissemination, and the collation of data received from it (Article 2, S ection A of the CBA), at least for the CBU. The Union would like to work with M anagement to become more involved in this project. 39. Union Presentations at RRO/NRT and RRO/Quad Conference Meetings ± Since Regio nal Recruiting Office (RRO) staff do not attend an NEO per se, the Union request s that about 30 minutes be made available at each New Recruiter Training (NRT) a nd RRO senior employee retreat at HQ (ªTriadº or ªQuadº meetings) for a presentation by the Union. 40. Vacancy Announcements Shorter than Fourteen Days ± Currently, the CBA calls f or all Peace Corps Vacancy Announcements to be advertised for no less than 14 da ys, unless Union approval is given for an exemption. The Union believes that pr otocols could be put into place that would give Management more freedom in the m atter, while also benefiting the CBU. The Union stands ready to negotiate this matter further with Management. 41. Promoting Non-Competitive Hiring Status Throughout the Federal Government ± P eace Corps Employees, just like Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs), are gra nted Federal Non-Competitive Hiring Status after three years of service. This s tatus is intended to help them transition to other employment after they have ti med-out on the Five-Year Rule. Unfortunately, most other Federal Agencies do no t have mechanisms in place to help accommodate job candidates who are seeking em ployment there using their Non-Competitive Hiring Status (unlike, for example, M ilitary Veterans who have a very specific means by which they can get preferenti al hiring in Federal employment). Most job inquirers are simply told to apply t hrough USAJobs for positions at that agency. In fact, many agency Human Resourc es personnel have never even heard of Non-Competitive Hiring Status, and do not
know how to deal with such inquiries. The Union would like to work with Managem ent to develop a strategy to spread the word of Non-Competitive Hiring Status th roughout the Federal Government. An effort like this would not only benefit for mer Peace Corps employees, but RPCVs as well. 42. Planning for Staff Discontinuity, Overlap, and Knowledge-Transfer - Chiefl y due to the five-year rule, almost every office in the Peace Corps has vacancie s. Because of the general desire by managers to save money in their budgets, th ere is little overlap and knowledge transfer between incoming and outgoing staff . Vacancies brought on by the five-year rule are viewed by managers as an oppor tunity to save money by not backfilling positions quickly. In addition, there i s little effort, even when a person's departure is known well in advance, to overl ap outgoing with incoming staff, even for a few days or weeks. Additionally, ma nagers are reluctant to use the salaries saved from outgoing staff to pay overti me, and instead use it to lower their overhead (see item #37 above). The result is that dedicated employees are often working beyond their SOW and during unpai d overtime. This problem is chronic within Peace Corps, chiefly due to the Five -Year Rule. Managers should not be rewarded for a failure to plan for knowledge transfer and a smooth continuity of job functions, simply because they have sav ed a few dollars in their budgets to do this. 43. Union Membership on Executive and HRM Management Selection Panels - The Un ion feels that it could contribute to the process of Peace Corps Executive selec tions by being brought into those processes. Whenever a high level executive po sition is being advertised, and candidates are being interviewed/vetted by the O ffice of Executive Selection and Support (M/OESS), a Union member on that select ion committee could offer insight and advice that may be overlooked. Likewise, the Office of Human Resource Management is the most critical office in Peace Cor ps (or any organization) for labor relations and Union activities. As such, and considering the fact that all managers in that office should be keyed into Unio n efforts and interests, the Union would like to propose that all management vac ancies from that office have a Union representative on their selection and hirin g panel. 44. New Employee Orientations (NEOs) and Contact with New Employees ± In June, 20 09, the Union formally requested that Management discontinue certain practices a t the Bi-Weekly NEOs that they believe are contrary to the CBA, and that they ma ke certain minor changes in the process that would assist the Union in their res ponsibilities. Some of these changes were adopted by Management. However, on S eptember 21, 2009, Management officially responded to our request stating that t hey did not believe the act of designating the Union briefing as an optional age nda item for both CBU and Management employees was a violation of the CBA. The Union Local continues to believe that it is a violation (please see Article 2, S ection G of the CBA). In addition, until just recently (and with Management's ack nowledgement), the Union President has traditionally contacted all new employees (Management and Labor employees alike) soon after they were hired in order to w elcome them aboard. In his phone call and subsequent email, he would offer the Union's assistance with anything they needed, and send them an e-copy of the CBA. On September 8, 2009, the Union received notice from Management directing it to discontinue any future welcoming phone calls or emails with Management employee s. This is disturbing to the Union! Such efforts to reduce contact between Man agement and the Union, even on non-controversial topics like a ªWelcome Aboard Gre eting,º are contrary to the letter (again, see Article 2, Section G ± especially the first and third sentences) and spirit of the CBA, good Management-Labor relatio ns, and President Obama's call for a more robust Management-Union dialogue. The Un ion asks that you immediately reverse this directive so we do not have to carry it forward into future discussions and negotiations. Finally, two more points o n the NEO. The Union has asked Management to: 1) Note everyone on the NEO Roste r as either outside the CBU, or inside it, but have not received a response on t
hat request; 2) Work with the Union to determine the best timeslot during the NE O for Union presentations; and 3) Ensure that copies of the CBA and Union Member ship forms are included in the RRO employee forms packet at their EOD. As per # 1 and #3, the Union has not yet received a response. As with #2, Management's res ponse is that it is reluctant to do so. 45. Employee Personal Identification Information (PII) ± Peace Corps deals with a lot of PII, both from volunteer applicants and from its own employees. While s ome offices report a robust and vigorous adherence to controlling access to this information, complaints have been received from employees that other offices ar e more nonchalant about it. Peace Corps, as a whole, may have an uneven adheren ce to securing PII in general. Given the ever increasing problems of identity t heft, the Union would like to recommend the Director's Office investigate this mat ter further to be sure that adequate steps are being taken across the agency to deal with this issue. 46. Database of Employee Hidden Skills ± Peace Corps employees have many skills, only some of which may be ones that a person is employed to exercise. As a ªDeve lopment Agencyº, Peace Corps may be interested in utilizing some of these hidden s kills at various times. If a Joint Union-Management poll was conducted of Peace Corps employees for "other skills sets" (languages, welding, fisheries science, agriculture, sailing, carpentry, etc.) they may have, and then a database was c reated and maintained in HRM, the Agency could be more easily able to quickly re spond to changing circumstances by drawing on these hidden talents. In addition , at each New Employee Orientation, HRM could have new employees fill out a volu ntary questionaire stating their "other skills", which can then be fed into the database. 47. Instituting a Formal Process for Approving an Employee for Anything Other t han a Full 30-Month 2nd Tour - To the best of our knowledge, when it comes to a Peace Corps employee's ª2nd tourº, supervisors can currently make their recommendation for the employee not to receive any, or a significantly reduced, ª2nd tourº without : having to provide any (written or oral) reasons; follow any set process; or a ny a real possibility of higher level review. The issue of a Peace Corps employ ee's ª2nd tourº (especially when s/he does not receive the typical, full 30-month peri od) is an important issue in that employee's work life. An employee should have s ome recourse of appeal, with Union representation if they felt they were being d iscriminated against. 48. Union Officer and Steward Work Mitigation Fund - Because of the small natur e of the Peace Corps as an agency, any employee that steps up to the plate to wo rk as a Union Officer or Steward must, inadvertently, reduce the amount of work they would do to achieve the goals of their normal work. This creates strains a nd conflicts within a Union Officer's or Steward's workgroup. The Union recommends that a special fund be set up in the Labor Relations Office that is used to help compensate for these dislocations. The fund would be dispersed by quarter acco rding to the office that Union Officers and Stewards work in, and would be used by that office to pay for overtime work that may be needed because of a Union Of ficer's position. 49. Unnecessary Reliance on "Expert" Employment Hiring - The Union believes tha t the number of "Experts" on staff at the Peace Corps may be unnecessarily high. As of December 2010, there were 60 Experts on staff, or about 8% of the workfo rce. The Union believes that Management may hire Experts when a real need exist s, but then never re-evaluate the necessity of the Expert position. And so, Exp erts may continue on in Expert employment even when their need is unnecessary. In the Summer of 2010, the Union even found one Expert participating in work pro ject that was totally unrelated to the purpose of their hiring. The Union would like to request that the Inspector General's office conduct a thorough review o f Expert Hires currently in place, and set up a process by which Expert position
s are re-evaluated annually for their relevance. 50. Number of Politically Appointed Positions within the Peace Corps - There is a belief that the number of Politically Appointed positions at the Peace Corps is very high considering the size and budget for the agency. The Union currentl y has no means of establishing the truth with this concern. The Union proposes that a study be conducted by an independent body (such as the Congressional Rese arch Service) that describes and lists the positions at the agency which are pol itically appointed, and compares and contrasts that number to other agencies in the Federal government. 51. Listing of Union Officers and Stewards in the Peace Corps Directory ± The Pea ce Corps Directory needs to be updated (as per CBA Article 22, Section B) so tha t Union Officers and Stewards are properly listed in the Peace Corps Directory, and can be easily located by CBU members. 52. Tracking of Union Officers' and Stewards' Agency Time Use via Timepeace ± The Age ncy-Union contract was written before Agency employees submitted their work hour s via an electronic method (Timepeace). Today, with Timepeace, there is no reas on why that method couldn't be used to track official time used by Union represent atives, instead of the archaic method of filling out spreadsheets, and submittin g them to the Labor Relations Chief. Just as how Timepeace has recently been a ltered to allow for input and tracking of Employee Volunteer Program (EVP) time, it could also be altered to allow for input and tracking of Union time. 53. Official and Unofficial Policies Regarding Credit and Comp Time - The CBA i s quite clear (Article 8) in how and when Credit Hours are accumulated, verses C omp Hours. In essence, Credit Hour accumulation is at the discretion of the emp loyee. If extra work is required or mandated by the Agency (via a person's supe rvisor), then Comp Hours are the means with which a person is compensated (assum ing they have opted for Comp Hours in exchange for Overtime Pay). However, the Union has heard from a number of employees that they are being "required" to max out their Credit Hour bank before a supervisor will approve Comp Hours, even wh en the extra work is mandated by the supervisor. This is all in conflict with t he CBA, and requires the Agency provide guidance to supervisors in the manner in which Credit and Comp Hours are accumulated and managed. Furthermore, the Peac e Corps Manual MS 625, Section 184.108.40.206 "Conditions for Compensatory Time") state s that employees only have three payperiods in which to utilize earned Comp Time . The Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA - Article 8, Section I) states that an employee has four payperiods in which to utilize earned Comp Time. Since the CBA is controlling for all conflicts between the CBA and Peace Corps Policies ( CBA Article 5), that section of the Peace Corps Manual needs to be revised. 54. Union-Management Disagreement on Overtime Availability - Currently, a disag reement exists between Management and the Union on availability of overtime to F LSA Exempt Employees. The Union contends that the Collective Bargaining Agreeme nt (CBA - Article 8) guarantees all employees (FLSA Exempt and Non-Exempt) the r ight to elect overtime pay when working outside their normal tour of duty hours. In the case of FLSA Exempt Employees, Overtime pay (the Union contends) would be governed under USC Title 5 Overtime pay. Management contends that FLSA Exemp t employees have no right to elect overtime pay. 55. Allocation of "Five Year Rule" Extensions - There is a concern that "extens ions" to the five year rule have been granted disproportionately to staff member s in managerial positions, while denying extensions to staff members at the Labo r level. Furthermore, there is a belief that Headquarters staff tend to be gran ted extensions more often then domestic regional or overseas staff. All-in-all, there is a feeling among Peace Corps' employees that the process of allocating ex tensions is not transparent. The Union proposes a study be undertaken to determ ine the number of extensions given over the past five years, and the relationshi
p of those extensions to the person's grade and posting. 56. Speed and Transparency in Approving Grade-Series (Career Ladder) Promotions - A number of employees have reported problems with getting Grade-Series promot ions in a timely and transparent fashion, even when their supervisors have appro ved and requested them. For example, a person who may be hired as an FP-7/5, wi ll usually first be hired as an FP-7, and then promoted to an FP-5 after one yea r of satisfactory service (see MS 620, Subsection 8.0). However, reports of bee n made to the Union that these promotions can take months to put into place, whi le others may happen within a few days after a notice is sent in from a supervis or. Reports of inquiries to HRM about these delays are meet with silence. The Union requests that HRM look into this, and institute a more transparent and eff icient way to enact this routine process. 57. Encouragement of America's Union Members to Consider Peace Corps Service Finally, we would like to know how we can help you spread the word throughout Am erica's unionized labor force to consider volunteering to serve their country an d the world through Peace Corps service. We stand ready to utilize our partners hip with the Peace Corps to help increase Peace Corps Volunteer applications fro m America's talented and skilled workforce.
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