So, what were the problems that stopped the contract? Joshua Rider, the president of AFGE Local 1106, told Bloomberg that the flexibility of the schedule, the representation of unions in complaints and other rights granted in the previous contract have been removed from the new agreement. 10,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) employees will be forced to work under a “collective agreement” (CBA) imposed on them by the Trump administration. The agreements do not guarantee additional benefits for offshoring staff, but they do describe the conditions and a specific way for employees to request flexibility. “It is clear that the Union has no intention of ratifying a successor agreement, whatever its conditions; whether they are imposed by the panel or obtained by the parties through further negotiations. In addition, ERS and NIFA have agreed to provide temporary accommodation for up to 60 days for employees agreeing to a USDA relocation. Workers can apply for a further 60-day extension, in accordance with trade union agreements. Both the union and lawmakers, who criticized the USDA relocation on Friday, reiterated their concern about the move, but appeared to be relatively satisfied with the agreement reached between the two sides. Both the department and the union began negotiations on the relocation of the USDA about a month after Agriculture Minister Sonny Perdue of Kansas City announced as a new site for ERS and NIFA headquarters. The USDA has given ERS and NIFA employees until July 15 to accept or refuse relocation to Kansas City.
The union agreement allows employees to change their minds at any time until September 27, a point the department made in statements to the Federal News Network and the media, but codified by a signed letter of intent. “The Agency agrees to continue existing RA agreements and consider extensions for temporary RA agreements if the current service is different from Washington, D.C.C. as long as housing remains efficient, medically necessary and if this pursuit does not interfere with the Agency`s mission,” he said. The American Federation of Government Employees, which represents both ERS and NIFA staff, announced late Friday that it had reached an agreement with USDA leaders.