Federal employee union files complaint against Education Department

Federal employee union files complaint against Education Department
© Greg Nash

The nation’s leading labor union for government employees has filed a complaint against the Department of Education for failing to negotiate and bargain in good faith with the union.

In the complaint filed Tuesday with the Federal Labor Relations Authority, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) said it spent months trying to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the Education Department, but was told Friday that the Education Department management would implement a new agreement with its own terms starting Monday.

The AFGE said in the complaint that the Education Department’s proposed CBA guts employee rights, including those addressing workplace health and safety, telework, and alternative work schedules.


“The Education Department has imposed on its workers an illegal document that we had absolutely no bargaining over,” AFGE Council 252 President Claudette Young said in a statement.

“Secretary Betsy DeVosBetsy DeVosGOP lawmakers urge Cardona against executive student loan wipeout More insidious power grab than one attempted Jan. 6? Betsy DeVos not running for Michigan governor MORE and her management team are attempting to strip employees of their collective bargaining rights and kill the union.”

The union represents 3,900 Education Department employees nationwide.

“In 100 years of case law this has never been done before, this whole ripping up a standing agreement and putting down an edict that’s not agreed to by both parties,” said AFGE spokeswoman Ashley De Smeth. “This is wildly unprecedented.”

De Smeth said the collective bargaining agreement serves as a roadmap for work relationships providing guidance on items like how disputes between the department and employees are to be settled, guidelines for telework and reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities.

The Education Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.