EPA, employee union sign contract after years of disputes

EPA, employee union sign contract after years of disputes
© Getty Images

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a major employee union signed an agreement Thursday after years of disputes. 

Both the EPA and the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) praised the contract, saying that it provides significant rights for employees. 

The collective agreement includes allowing employees to have up to two days of telework per week, allowing the union to use conference rooms without agency approval and requires the agency to provide personal protective equipment and indoor air quality testing.


The AFGE, which represents 7,500 EPA employees,  first announced that it had reached an agreement with the EPA on these points in June. 

“The agreed-upon articles include subjects important to our employees, including employee rights, leave, work schedules, and telework,”  said EPA Administrator Andrew WheelerAndrew WheelerBiden 'freeze' of Trump rules could halt environmental rollbacks 15 states sue EPA over decision not to tighten pollution standard for smog 13 states sue EPA over rule allowing some polluters to follow weaker emissions standards MORE in a statement. 

AFGE National President Everett Kelley similarly expressed satisfaction with the contract. 

“I am extremely thankful for the hard work of AFGE members and our allies in Congress who helped put pressure on the EPA to do the right thing. This success was a group effort, and all involved should be proud,” Kelley said in a statement. 

Negotiations between the two sides have gone on for years and both sides have disagreed about how much of the union contract is up for review. 

In one major flashpoint last year, the EPA sought to implement a new contract for its employees without union agreement.


In response, the AFGE filed an unfair labor practice charge against the EPA. In December, the EPA agreed to resume negotiations and the union withdrew the unfair labor practice charges. 

Wheeler, in his statement on Thursday, acknowledged that the process was “rocky.”

“While the history of these negotiations was rocky, I believe both parties were motivated, professional, and earnestly attempted to address the best interest of all involved,” he said.