Arbitrator: Social Safety Engaged in A number of Cases of Dangerous Religion Bargaining, Should Renegotiate

An independent arbitrator took the rare step this week of ordering the Social Security Administration and a union representing administrative law judges to fully re-negotiate a new contract after seeing multiple cases of illicit negotiations by the Agency had ascertained.

In a May 17 ruling, Arbitrator John T. Nicholas found that the Agency’s management had committed unfair labor practices in relation to five different articles of its contractual negotiations with the Association of Administrative Judges. The verdict is the third case in which an arbitrator has found cases of misconduct by the Social Security Administration management in connection with his negotiations with the judges’ union.

In these previous cases, the union arbitrator gave tight arbitration awards, such as: B. the request to the agency to provide information that was not properly withheld before and to stop efforts to implement a partial contract. However, Nicholas instructed the parties to start the contract negotiation process from scratch by negotiating ground rules for negotiating an entirely new contract.

“This provides a status quo ante remedy that requires the parties to return to the negotiating table to resume negotiations, thereby nullifying the 20 articles agreed,” wrote Nicholas. “The negotiations are conducted according to the basic rules of a new one [memorandum of understanding]that must be drafted and agreed immediately. “

In teleworking negotiations, previously agreed with letters of intent and facility issues, the arbitrator found that management illegally forced the matter into an impasse and effectively waived the union’s right to negotiate on issues that under federal labor law were deemed to be ” permissible “apply. Although management said they wanted to limit the use of letters of intent by including their provisions in the full union agreement, the arbitrator noted that they had never really moved to discuss the contents of these memoranda.

“While the union made significant concessions, first agreeing to remove any agreements that were directly in conflict with the terms of the CBA and eventually agreeing to remove 20 of the 26 existing agreements, the agency refused to to delete their original proposal and required the elimination of all existing agreements as a requirement for agreeing a new CBA, ”wrote Nicholas. “Instead of trying to negotiate the content of the MOUS, the agency’s original, tentative, and final offers stayed the same.”

The arbitrator also noted that the Social Security Agency was officially negotiating on a “superficial level”, essentially making changes to its proposal without actually attempting to find a mutually accessible solution, and found the agency in bad negotiation Intent to negotiate on provisions protecting the judicial function of judges.

“It is clear to your arbitrator that the agency has decided to simply refuse to make a final and best offer during the negotiations [on the judicial function provision] As a form of protest against the back-and-forth negotiations, it amounts to saying, “I’ll take my ball and go home,” which is an inexcusable position in negotiating a national agreement, “wrote Nicholas.” Hence, the Agency’s refusal to negotiate the definition of the employment functions of a judge, in the view of your arbitrator, a clear violation of [the statute] and represents an unfair working practice. “

The agency has until June 17 to decide whether to appeal the arbitrator’s decision to the Federal Office for Industrial Relations. To make matters worse, President Biden directed the agencies to renegotiate contracts containing provisions of former President Trump’s anti-labor executive ordinances, and US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled Wednesday that she was responsible for the hearing Missing a case filed by the judges’ union, which questions the constitutionality of the federal service, delegates the commissioner of the panel and possibly gives the agency the freedom to implement the contested contract.

In a statement, Social Security Agency spokesman Mark Hinkle downplayed the potential impact of the arbitrator’s decision and accused the judges union of stalling efforts to negotiate a new contract.

“The arbitration award was essentially controversial at the time of the decision, as SSA allowed AALJ to renegotiate the entire CBA several times,” said Hinkle. In fact, the agency’s chief spokesman for these negotiations has sent out at least four communications making this offer to the AALJ negotiator. . . Despite these repeated efforts, AALJ has refused to meet with the agency at all. “

Although Hinkle described the decision as “substantively contentious,” SSA said, “does not comment on ongoing litigation, including appeal cases.”

“However, we are concentrating on finding a way to work with the AALJ to resolve any outstanding labor disputes and to agree to a mutually beneficial new term agreement,” he said.

But AALJ President Melissa McIntosh, who said she hadn’t heard from management since the arbitration award was published, said the agency’s characterization of the new collaborative overtures was “extremely insincere”. The agency has repeatedly refused to ask the cul-de-sac board to withdraw its order on nine controversial treaty clauses. The union believes this is an attempt to leverage the Trump-era treaty over the head.

“They want to hold onto the advantage they got from this panel assignment that would virtually eliminate us as a union,” said McIntosh. “The arbitration award is not ‘content-related’. It ordered us to go straight back to the table in the first place. . . It is incredible that they are still trying to capture their illicit profits from the cul-de-sac board that was sacked immediately after the change in administration. “

Hinkle acknowledged that federal law allows parties to negotiate contracts imposed by the cul-de-sac board, although he failed to explain why the social security agency has so far refused to sign the union’s motion.

“While panel decisions are binding, the law allows the parties to agree on various terms on their own, which then become binding,” he said. “As already mentioned, the agency is ready to return to the negotiating table without any preconditions.”

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