AFGE Professional Local 3669

VA Medical Center, Minneapolis, MN

Negotiated Agreement


 

BETWEEN

 

AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES

REGISTERED NURSES' LOCAL 3669

 

AND

 

VETERANS ADMINISTRATION HOSPITAL

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA

 

Effective Date: March 10, 1980

 


 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

           
ARTICLE   

 

                 PREAMBLE                                              

     I.          PARTIES TO AGREEMENT                           
    II.          PURPOSE                                        
   III.
         AUTHORITY                                        
   IV.
         RECOGNITION AND UNIT DETERMINATION               
    V.
         MUTUAL RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS                    
   VI.
         CONSULTATION AND NEGOTIATION                     
  VII.
        UNION—MANAGEMENT COOPERATION                     
VIII.
         USE OF OFFICIAL FACILITIES                            
   IX.
         SUPERVISORY-EMPLOYEE RELATIONS                   
    X.
         UNION REPRESENTATION                             
   XI.
         EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY                     
  XII.
        PROFICIENCY RATINGS AND ADVANCEMENTS             
 XIII.
        EMPLOYEE PERSONNEL FILES                         
 XIV.
         PROFESSIONAL TRAINING AND CONTINUING EDUCATION 
   XV.
        HOURS OF WORK                                  
  XVI.
       OVERTIME                                         
 XVII.
       ASSIGNMENTS AND REASSIGNMENTS                    

XVIII.        LEAVE                                            
  XIX.        RESIGNATION                                      
   XX.
       REDUCTION IN FORCE                               
  XXI.
       SAFETY AND HEALTH SERVICES                            

XXII.         GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE                            

 XIII.         ARBITRATION                                    

XXIV.        DISCIPLINARY ACTIONS                           

 XXV.         EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM                         

XXVI.        DUES WITHHOLDING                                    

XXVII.      IMPASSE IN NEGOTIATIONS                        

XXVIII.     DURATION OF AGREEMENT                          

  XXIV.      DISTRIBUTION OF AGREEMENT                      

 


 

 

PREAMBLE

 The Employer and Professional Nurses of AFGE Local 3669 at the VA Medical Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota are agreed to work together to promote quality of patient care through participating together to improve RN morale, personnel policies, practices and matters affecting working conditions. Opportunity exists for all RN’s to participate in formulation and implementation of patient care programs through Nursing Service Management by Participation philosophy.  This philosophy will strengthen the greatest asset an organization possesses: commitment of qualified, skilled, and experienced staff meeting the health care needs and concerns of the veteran.  The following agreement is intended to aid both the Management and profession al RN's in the belief that "the special nature of the people we serve demand a special quality in the service we render."

 Back to Top 

 

ARTICLE I: PARTIES TO AGREEMENT

 Section 1. Pursuant to authority set forth in Chapter 71, Title 5, U.S. Code, the following articles of agreement and amendments that may be negotiated at a later date constitute a total agreement entered into by the Veterans Administration Medical Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, hereinafter referred to as the "Employer," and Registered Nurses Local Number 3669, American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, hereinafter referred to as the "Union."  For purposes of this agreement, the terms "employees" or "nurses" refer to Registered Nurses in the bargaining unit.

Back to Top 

 

ARTICLE II: PURPOSE

 Section 1. The purposes of this negotiated agreement are:

         a. to identify the parties to the agreement and define their respective roles, rights and responsibilities;

         b. to establish those policies, procedures and methods properly subject to negotiation which will hereafter govern the working relationship between the Employer and the Union;

         c. to identify the nature of the matters of proper mutual concern and to provide systematic methods for resolution of those matters;

         d. to assure full protection of the rights of bargaining unit employees and of the right of the employer's management officials;

         e. and thereby to foster a stable and cooperative relationship between the parties.

 Section 2. It is the intention of the Employer and the Union:

         a. to foster employee-management cooperation;

         b. to promote fair, reasonable and equitable working conditions;

         c. to promptly adjust any differences that may arise between the parties;

         d. to provide the opportunity for employee participation in the formulation and to provide input on the impact which may result from implementation of personnel policies, practices, and matters affecting the working conditions of unit employees;

         e. to provide a safe and healthful work environment;

         f. and facilitate communications between bargaining unit employees and the Employer to the end that improved employee morale, better patient care and greater efficiency of Medical Center operations may be attained.

  Back to Top 

 

ARTICLE III: AUTHORITY

 Section 1. This Agreement is entered into under the authority outlined in Chapter 71 of Title 5, U.S. Code, hereinafter referred to as "Title 5."

 Section 2. In the administration of all matters covered by this agreement and all supplemental, implementing subsidiary or informal agreements between the Employer and the Union, officials and employees are governed by existing or future laws and the regulations of appropriate authorities, including policies set forth in the Federal Personnel Manual; by published VA or Department of Medicine and Surgery policies and regulations in existence at the time the agreement was approved; and by subsequently published VA policies and regulations required by 1aw or by the regulations of appropriate authorities, or authorized by the terms of a controlling agreement at a higher agency level.

 Back to Top  

 

ARTICLE IV: RECOGNITION AND UNIT DETERMINATION

 Section 1. The Employer hereby recognizes that the Union is the exclusive representative of all employees of the Bargaining Unit as defined in Section 2 below, and the Union hereby recognizes the responsibility of representing the appropriate interests of all such employees for as long as the Union continues as the exclusive representative of this Unit.

 Section 2. The Bargaining Unit to which this agreement applies is composed of all non-supervisory registered nurses as defined by Title 5, Section 7112b employed at the Veterans Administration Medical Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, exclusive recognition for which vas granted March 16, 1976.

 Back to Top  

 

ARTICLE V: MUTUAL RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS

 Section 1. It is agreed that the employees in the Unit, freely and without fear of penalty or reprisal, shall be protected in the exercise of their right to join and assist the Union.  The freedom of such employees to assist the Union shall be recognized extending to participation in the management of the Union and acting for the Union in the capacity of a Union representative including presentation of its views to officials of the Executive Branch, the Congress, or other appropriate authority, except as expressly provided herewith, and in Title 5. The Employer shall take such action consistent with law or with directives as may be required in order to assure employees are apprised of the rights described in Title 5 and this Article.

 Section 2. The Employer and the Union under the term of the Chapter 71, Title 5, U.S. Code shall not interfere with, restran or coerce an employee in the exercise of his assured rights.

 Section 3. Any employee has a right to bring matters of personal concern to the attention of appropriate officials in accordance with applicable laws, rules, regulations and to choose her own union representative or represent herself in a grievance when presenting a grievance under the negotiated grievance procedure of this Agreement.

 Section 4. Employees covered by this Agreement will be granted time to contact their designated local Union steward as outlined in Article X, Section 7.

 Section 5. All Registered Nurses, regardless of position, are free to join the Union.

 Back to Top  

 

ARTICLE VI: CONSULTATION AND NEGOTIATION

 Section 1. The Union and the Employer agree that in furtherance of the purpose of this Agreement and their respective obligations under Chapter 71, Title 5, U.S. C., they will meet and confer in good faith with respect to subjects of bargaining. The parties shall meet at reasonable times and confer and negotiate in a good faith effort to reach agreement with respect to personnel policies, practices and matters, whether established by rule, regulation, or otherwise, affecting working conditions, so far as may be appropriate under applicable laws and regulations (including policies set forth in Federal Personnel Manual, published agency policies and regulations for which a compelling need exists under criteria established by the Federal Labor Relations Authority, and which are issued at agency headquarters level, or at the level of the primary national subdivision; a national or other controlling agreement at a higher level in the agency; and Chapter 71, Title 5, U.S.C.). Discussions may also take place on any matters of concern by mutual agreement of the parties.

 Section 2. However, the Employer's obligation to meet, confer and negotiate does not extend to matters of mission, budget, organization, number of employees, internal security practices of the agency; and in accordance with applicable laws to hire, assign, direct, layoff, and retain employees in the agency, or to suspend, remove, reduce in grade or pay or take other disciplinary action against employees; to assign work, contract out, and determine the personnel by which agency operations shall be conducted; or with respect to filling positions, to make selections for appointments from appropriate sources and qualified candidates and to promote qualified candidates; and to take whatever actions may be necessary to carry out the agency mission during emergencies.  Nothing shall preclude the Employer and the Union from negotiating: (1) at the election of the Employer, on the numbers, types, and grades of employees or positions assigned to any organizational subdivision, work project, or tour of duty, or on the technology, methods and means of performing work; (2) procedures which Management officials of the agency will observe in exercising any authority under Section 7106 of Title 5 U.S.C.; (3) appropriate arrangements for employees adversely affected by the exercise of any authority under Section 7106 of Title 5 U.S.C. by such management officials.

 Section 3. The legal responsibility for practices as official duties deriving from these matters is the responsibility of the Employer under the terms of the Federal Tort Claims Act, Section 4116, Title 38 of the U.S. Code.

 

Section 4. The Employer will provide the Union with an opportunity to discuss and negotiate prior to implementing any Employer—initiated changes in personnel policies, practices and matters affecting working conditions which are applicable to Unit employees.

 

Section 5. The Employer will send to the Union a copy of each DM45, agency or CS regulation or directive prior to implementation  which may affect in its implementation the personnel policies, practices, and matters affecting working conditions of Bargaining  Unit employees. Likewise, the Employer will send to the Union a draft of each Employer policy or other similar document prior to implementation which may affect the personnel policies practices, and matters affecting working conditions of the Bargaining Unit employees. The Union will respond to such regulations or drafts of policy memoranda within 12 calendar days of receipt by submitting comments and recommendations or a request to negotiate. Comments and recommendations submitted by the Union will be considered by the Employer before proceeding with implementation; if no response is received within 12 calendar days the Employer may implement the regulation or policy memorandum. A final copy of any such policy memorandum implemented will be sent to the Union.

 

Section 6. Both parties acknowledge the responsibility o meet with each other and in good faith to discuss and negotiate and conscientiously to seek mutually satisfactory solutions to any negotiable matters.

 

Section 7. The Union may have present at any or all meetings concerning negotiations or arbitrations, in an advisory capacity, the District 8 Vice President of AFGE or his designee. The privilege of access to VA premises will be governed by appropriate VA regulations. Where any provision of this Agreement limits the number of Union representatives at an activity, the Union official referred to in this section will be counted against that limitation.

 

 Back to Top 

 

 

ARTICLE VII: UNION-MANAGEMENT COOPERATI0N

 

Section 1. Upon written request from the Union the Employer will furnish the Union a list of names, position titles and area of duty assignment of all bargaining unit employees. Such list will not be provided more often than once in any 12—month period.

 

Section 2. At the time of issuance, the Union will be given a list of the names and position titles of all Bargaining Unit employees appointed, gained or lost through transfer or otherwise separated during the preceding months, and the ward assignment for new employees. The reasons for separation, i.e., resignation, retirement or removal will be included.

 

Section 3. The Employer and the Union agree to establish a Union— Management Committee for the purpose of discussing matters of mutual concern. The goals of this Committee are:

 

     a. Each party will be sincere in sharing information.

 

     b. Each party will approach issues with sincere resolve to understand the other’s point of view.

 

     c. Consideration of such matters as the interpretation and application of rules, regulations and policies; the discussion of conditions that have potential for creating grievances and misunderstandings: the encouragement of good human relations in employee—supervisory relationships; the promotion of education and training; the betterment of employee working conditions; the strengthening of employee morale.

 

     d. Individual or group grievances will be managed by the grievance procedure outlined in Article XXII

 

Section 4. An equal number of Union officials, Including the Local President, or designee, and the Employer representatives, including the Chief, Nursing Service, or designee, normally not to exceed three persons each, will attend Union Management Committee meetings. Additional persons may attend for either the Employer or the Union by informing the other party at least 24 hours in advance. Union employee representatives will attend without charge to leave provided the meetings occur during their regularly scheduled work hours. Meetings will be approximately 1 1/2 hours in duration. The Union and the Employer will each select a chairperson to alternately preside at the Union Management Committee meetings. The responsibilities of the Chairperson include:

 

     a. Conducting the meeting in an orderly manner.

 

     b. Adhering to time limits.

 

     c. Providing the opportunity for each party to summarize the conclusions and points of issue held on each agenda item. A stenographer may attend the Union Management Committee for the purpose of taking notes. Copies of these notes will be provided to the Chief, Nursing Service and the Local President within 7 calendar days following the meeting. At least 7 calendar days prior to each meeting, each party will submit to the other in writing and in priority order its agenda items to be discussed.  The establishment of these committee meetings does not preclude either party from requesting unscheduled meetings to discuss urgent matters that may arise. Both parties will use reasonable discretion as to what is considered urgent.

 

Section 5. The Employer will include the Union in planning of truly voluntary charity drives. The Union will cooperate with the Employer and lend its support to these worthy causes with advance notice and by participation. In conducting these drives, the parties will comply with and be guided by appropriate regulations and directives of the VA and organizations responsible for the programs locally. The parties agree that any compulsion or reprisal is improper. No list of contributors or contributions that is not required will be kept.

 

Section 6. The Employer agrees to inform each new Bargaining Unit employee of the Union’s exclusive recognition and provide him with a copy of this Agreement, the AFGE Health Benefit brochure and a handout identifying Union officials and how to contact them. In addition, during each open season the Employer will announce by l4dical Center—wide bulletin, the availability of AFGE benefits brochures upon request.

 

Section 7. Copies of communications pertaining to personnel policies, practices, and matters affecting working conditions of Unit employees will be sent to the Union.

 

Section 8. All Union members who serve as Union representatives on committees will be notified of the meeting schedules and times. Members may attend without charge to annual leave if they are in an “on duty” status.

 

Section 9. The Union may designate one representative to each of the following committees:

 

     a. Nursing Service Safety Committee

 

     b. Uniform Policy Committee

 

     c. Equal Employment Opportunity Committee

 

     d. Medical Center Safety Committee

 

     e. Annual Leave and Time Planning Committee (if reinstated)

 

Section 10. The final certified copy of each Tour of Duty Schedule for each work area will be retained by the Employer for 2 years in the Nursing Service office. These schedules will be available for review by Union Officers and Stewards upon request. An additional unofficial copy of the Tour of Duty Schedule will also be posted on the ward/unit bulletin board. The Employer will assume no responsibility for the final accuracy or the continued maintenance of this unofficial record; however, the Employer will file the unofficial record on the ward in a place which is accessible to the employee. This unofficial record will be kept for 1 year.

 

Section 11. The parties agree to sign this agreement, which represents all Articles and/or issues on which agreement has been reached. Further, the parties agree to reopen the agreement on any or all issues declared non—negotiable if a decision of negotiability has been issued by the Employer and/or the Federal Labor Relations Authority. This does not preclude the parties from further discussion on the subject declared non—negotiable in an effort to reach agreement on appropriate contract language that does not conflict with the decision of non—negotiability.

 

Back to Top  

 

 

ARTICLE VIII: USE OF OFFICIAL FACILITIES

 

Section 1. Upon advance request of at least 15 calendar days from the Union, the Employer will provide an adequate room for meetings of the Union. The use of any room provided the Union is predicated on the availability of such space and on VA safety and security requirements. Attendance at Union meetings will be on the employees’ own time. With the supervisor’s permission, employees may attend these meetings during their tour of duty with charge to annual leave or during their mealtime.

 

Section 2. The President of the Union, or designee, may publish a brief announcement of upcoming Union meetings and elections or a list of officers and stewards in the employee newsletter. Such announcements will be submitted to the Personnel Officer at least 15 calendar days prior to the issue date of the employee newsletter.

 

Section 3. The Employer agrees that Union representatives who are employees may use the Employer’s telephones when conducting business that directly involves management, e.g., for contacting the labor relations officials of Personnel Service, arranging Union—Management meetings, contacting a supervisor during the processing of a grievance and similar activities. Such calls shall not interfere with the conduct of official business of the Employer or with the care and treatment of patients. The Employer’s telephones will not be used by the Union to conduct the internal Union business; however, the Employer’s telephone may be used jointly by a Union and Management representative for the express purpose of conducting Union—Employer business in matters of mutual concern.

 

Section 4. An office will be provided for carrying on official business of the Union. The continued availability of the office space will be determined by Management on the basis of the Medical Center’s immediate space needs and the proper maintenance and use of such space by the Union.

 

Section 5. A letter—size space on each ward’s “Personnel Bulletin Board” will be provided for use by the Union. Except for notices of meetings and the Union Newsletter, the material posted in this space must be approved by the Labor Relations Officer prior to posting of the material.

 

Section 6. In addition to the posting space (above) the Employer will provide three bulletin boards for use by the Union. These bulletin boards will be located at mutually agreed upon locations.

 

Section 7. The Employee’s Dining Rooms will be made available to any Medical Center employee scheduled to work the evening tour for the purpose of eating evening meals under the following conditions:

 

     —only those employees who purchase meals will be allowed to use the dining room from 4:15 p.m. — 7:00 p.m.

 

     —employees who bring their lunches will be allowed to use the area from 7:00 p.m. — 10:00 p.m.

 

The Employer agrees to the space being used by these employees subject to the following conditions:

 

     a. That the space is not required for the immediate needs of the station.

 

     b. That station management retains the right to terminate the use of space at any time a need arises in its situation.

 

     c. That such use will not injure the space in question.

 

 Back to Top 

 

 

ARTICLE IX: SUPERVISORY EMPLOYEE RELATIONS

 

Section 1. The Employer and the Union recognize that a key factor in achieving the purposes and intentions of this Agreement as stated in Article II, is a confident and productive relationship between supervisors and Bargaining Unit employees. Accordingly, the parties jointly endorse and will strive to promote the policy that supervisors and employees will at all times conduct themselves with dignity and respect for each other. The courtesy of privacy will be provided during all counseling sessions.

 

 Back to Top 

 

 

ARTICLE X: UNION REPRESENTATION

 

Section 1. The Employer recognizes the need for employees to have reasonable access to stewards in order to facilitate the accomplishment of labor management relations business and to further the Union’s communication to the employees whom it represents under exclusive recognition. It is also recognized by both parties hat the supervisor and the steward must work together in good faith and must cooperate with each other within the ambit of their relationship in promoting and maintaining high morale and professional attitudes.

 

Section 2. The Employer agrees to recognize Bargaining Unit employees designated by the Union to act as stewards and chief steward at the Medical Center. The Union may designate up to one steward per nursing area. Such designated stewards will conduct proper union—management business only in the areas for which they have been designated. These stewards are in addition to a Chief Steward who may act as steward at large.

 

Section 3. The Union will furnish the Labor Relations Officer and the Chief, Nursing Service or designee a list of elected officers and stewards within 30 calendar days following approval of this Agreement. The Union will furnish the Chief, Nursing Service or designee and Labor Relations Officer with a new list of officers within 10 calendar days following any election and will notify the Labor Relations Officer and the Chief, Nursing Service or designee in writing of any changes of the list of stewards upon their appointment.

 

Section 4. Stewards are authorized to perform and discharge the duties and responsibilities which may properly be assigned to them by the Local. Each Union representative is authorized to consult with the respective Management official at his level, and each is authorized to conclude agreements of appropriate matters.

 

Section 5. Stewards will be authorized reasonable time without charge to leave to carry out the duties and responsibilities which are properly assigned to them by the Union under the terms of Title 5 and this agreement provided the function is performed during the stewards tour of duty. All internal Union business will be conducted during the non—duty hours of the employees involved.

 

Section 6. Before any steward leaves her work area to conduct a steward function during her duty hours, she will first obtain the permission of her Head Nurse or individual assigned administrative responsibility indicating where she is going, the general reason for her absence and approximately how long she will be gone. If the Head Nurse or individual assigned administrative responsibility cannot authorize the steward’s absence at that time, they will by mutual agreement determine the earliest appropriate time for the steward to absent herself for that activity.

 

Section 7. Before any employee leaves her work area to meet with a Union steward she will first obtain the permission of her Head Nurse or individual assigned with administrative responsibility  indicating where she is going and approximately how long she will be gone. If the Head Nurse or individual assigned administrative responsibility cannot authorize the employee’s absence at that time, they will by mutual agreement determine the earliest appropriate time for the employee to absent herself for that activity.

 Section 8. When a Union steward is to be reassigned she, as with all other employees will be informed with as much advanced notice as possible and provided with the reasons necessitating the move.

 Section 9. The Union has the right, and will be given an opportunity, to be represented at discussions between Management and employees or employee representatives concerning individual employee grievances, personnel policies, practices, and matters affecting working conditions of employees in the Unit. This right to be present does not extend to informal discussions or personal problems between an employee and supervisory officials. Nothing in this Agreement will preclude the employee and the Employer from dealing directly with each other on matters pertaining to their individual employment.

 

Section 10. The Union President and the Chief, Nursing Service or their designees will be the principal contact for carrying out administrative matters between parties. All communications on matters not appropriate for the Joint Union Management Committee or the supervisor—steward relationship will be directed to those designated individuals.

 

Section 11. During a Nurse Professional Standards Board review for separation of a probationary nurse, she may seek assistance and representation in preparing and presenting her case.

 

Section 12. Within the first 12 months after this Agreement has been signed and approved, the Employer will schedule the Federal Medication and Conciliation Service joint labor—management training. This is subject to the availability of the FMCS.  During this training the Union representatives will be on official time.

 

Back to Top  

 

 

ARTICLE XI: EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY

 

Section 1. The Employer and the Union agree to cooperate in providing equal employment opportunity for all employees and applicants for employment; to prohibit discrimination because of age, sex, race, color, religion or national origin; and to promote the full realization of equal employment opportunity through positive and continuing efforts.

 

Section 2. The parties will support LEO activities by abiding by the principle of non—discrimination in membership by supporting the activities of the EEO program and by cooperating fully with EEO officials when they are performing their EEO duties. The parties will publicize their support for all activities intended to eliminate discrimination in any form. 

 

Section 3. When a vacancy occurs among the appointed EEO counselors the Union may recommend to the LEO Officer, its nominee or nominees to serve as an EEO counselor. The final decision on appointing counselors and coordinators rests with the LEO Officer.

 

Section 4. Any reference in this Agreement to the pronoun ‘She’ or to “He’ is intended to mean either “He” or ‘She.’

 

Back to Top  

 

 

ARTICLE XII: PROFICIENCY RATINGS AND ADVANCEMENTS

 

Section 1. The proficiency rating system will be administered in accordance with the purpose and policy established in Chapter 6 VA Manual MP—5, Part II and its supplement and Chapter 73 of Title 38 of the United States Code and any future amendments.

 

Section 2. Any area of significant concern or urgent need for improvement as observed by a supervisor in regard to an employee’s performance will be discussed with her by her immediate supervisor as soon as possible after the problem occurred.

 

Section 3. The appropriate supervisor will discuss with each nurse not later than the due date of the report, her proficiency report, pointing out strengths and weaknesses and giving suggestions for improvements. The proficiency report which is reviewed with the nurse, signed, and dated by the nurse, is the final complete report which goes into the nurse’s personnel folder. Discussion with an employee having an unsatisfactory performance will be accomplished at least 90 days prior to the proficiency being prepared. Employees may request performance review from their immediate supervisor at any time.

 

Section 4. Upon request, copies of performance proficiency evaluations will be provided to each member of the Bargaining Unit at the time of counseling with the Head Nurse. If the employee has unresolved questions or concerns about the proficiency after discussion with the rater, the employee should immediately request discussion with the reviewer. If not satisfied at this level, the employee may bring the questions  through channels to the Chief, Nursing Service. The employee may submit her own response to the proficiency and it will be attached and filed with the proficiency.

 

Section 5. A nurse may request counseling with her supervisor at any time and the supervisor will schedule the discussion. Each such discussion may include only the official, approved proficiency(s) in the past 12 months. The nurse may review any of her proficiencies.

 

Section 6. Nurses will be considered for advancement, promotion, Special Advancement for Performance or Achievement, based on the procedure contained in Chapter 5, MP—5, Part II, its Supplement, and any future amendments thereto. Information relating to advancement and promotion will be provided to every new staff nurse.

 

Section 7. Special advancements of Unit members will be published in the Employee Newsletter.

 

Section 8. The appropriate supervisor will review the basic criteria for promotion and the qualification standards for the present and next grade with the employee at the time of the annual proficiency.

 

 Back to Top 

 

 

ARTICLE XIII: EMPLOYEE PERSONNEL FILES

 

Section 1. All Official Personnel Files will be kept in accordance with applicable Privacy, Freedom of Information, and VA regulations. The employee is encouraged to review her/his Official Personnel Folder periodically. The employee may request to review the file at any time and will be given the opportunity to comment or reply to any material in the Official File.

 

Section 2. Each employee or his authorized representative shall have access on official time to inspect and/or copy any document appearing in his Official Personnel Folder. The Employer will assist the employee and/or his authorized representative in obtaining copies of any such document.

 

Section 3. Responsible VA operating and administrative officials and those persons listed in PPM 294 may have access to Official Personnel Folders when in the performance of their official duties or responsibilities. Each will be required to sign a document showing the date, name, and organization. The employee may inquire of the appropriate official the reason for the folder review.

 

Back to Top  

 

 

 

ARTICLE XIV: PROFESSIONAL TRAINING AND CONTINUING EDUCATION

 

Section 1. It is recognized by the Employer and the Union that professional nurses have a responsibility for identifying their educational needs, seeking continuing education activities to meet these needs, maintaining competencies and sharing learning experiences for improvement of nursing care of veteran patients.

 

Section 2. The Employer recognizes its responsibility for assisting nurses in identifying learning needs relevant to their practice and position, for sharing information regarding appropriate educational offerings and to the extent possible for facilitating the nurses participation in continuing education.

 

Section 3. The Employer agrees to grant authorized absence for a reasonable number of nurses to attend workshops, seminars, educational lectures and other continuing education programs. Approval of requests will be contingent on relevancy of educational offerings to both individual and entire nursing service priority needs — i.e. wards/service objectives, patient needs, service deficiencies, expressed interest of individuals and commensurate with their demonstrated clinical competence. Authorized absence (AA) will be granted in accordance with current VA regulations and instructions for implementation.

 

Section 4. All employees being considered for AA and registration fee funding must usually have been on Minneapolis VAMC Nursing Service Staff for at least six months. In order to make optimum use of educational funds and provide support for as many nurses as possible, nurses are encouraged to pay their own registration fee or a portion of it.

 

Section 5. Requests for continuing education funds and/or authorized absence will be made in writing and submitted three weeks prior to posting of the corresponding tours through supervisory channels to the Associate Chief, Nursing Service for Education. A response will be issued within two weeks of the date of the request. Requests for funding and/or authorized absence may be submitted after the above deadline for late announcement notices.

 

Section 6. The Employer will inform nurses through appropriate media, including posting on the continuing education bulletin board of nursing educational programs. This includes programs within the Medical Center and offerings in the community.

 

Section 7. Nursing Service monthly calendar, including inservice training programs, will be posted on each nursing unit. Inservice training and staff development programs will be made available to nurses during duty hours on all tours. The immediate supervisor will assign nurses to attend sessions in a fair and equitable manner based upon ward objectives, service deficiencies, and expressed interests and qualifications of the individual nurse. However, this will not preclude optional training being offered during “off duty” time with voluntary attendance.

 

Section 8. Orientation will be provided for nurses newly appointed to the service. Orientation will be individualized to the extent possible according to the nurse’s needs. Orientation to another ward or service will be provided when a nurse is reassigned within the Medical Center.

 

 Back to Top 

 

 

ARTICLE XV: HOURS OF WORK

 

Section 1. The Employer will prescribe tours of duty and determine staffing requirements for each work unit and each tour of duty.

 

Section 2. weekly tours of duty will be posted three weeks in advance.

 

Section 3. A minimum of 10 hours off duty must be provided before scheduling a return to duty status. In unusual circumstances a waiver may be requested by the employee or employer; this will be done by written memorandum. Employees will not be scheduled to work more than 6 consecutive days although 7 may be scheduled in a ward staffing crisis or by request of an employee for a special need, in neither instance will this be on a continuing basis.

 

Section 4. Nurses shall have their tour of duty arranged to permit each person to have 2 consecutive days off in each calendar work week. Any nurse may waive this right by written request; the request may be granted unless another nurse objects to being scheduled with split days off. Days may be split preceding or following a weekend off. Normally, if days off are split proceeding or following a weekend off, at least 2 work days will intervene, except when requested by the employee and approved by the supervisor. Saturday and Sunday will not normally be scheduled off unless both are scheduled off. Every effort will be made to provide an average of one weekend off out of two. Weekends will be equitably distributed. Employees may request in writing to waive the above requirements.

 

Section 5. Definition of a “weekend”: A weekend, for purposes of defining a weekend off, or a weekend worked, is defined as two (2) days, Saturday and Sunday, for day, evening and night staff. No RN will be scheduled to work a combination of an evening tour on Friday and a night tour on Monday of her/his weekend off.

 

Section 6. Tour or hour changes which are necessary due to extended sick leave, emergency annual leave or sudden unexpected vacancies will be made by the Employer after discussion with the employee affected and careful consideration of the impact of the change on the employee affected. Tour or hour changes will not be made for routine day to day coverage solely for the purpose of preventing overtime.

 

Section 7. Exchanges of posted tours of duty between qualified nurses will be permitted if agreeable to the individual nurses and their supervisor. Request for exchange of tours shall be in writing, signed by both nurses and submitted to the immediate supervisor. Such requests should be submitted with as much advanced notice as possible.

 

Section 8. In those areas requiring a change of uniform, the Employer will provide a reasonable amount of time for employees to change clothes at the beginning and end of the tour of duty.

 

Section 9. The Employer agrees that each tour shall have two paid rest periods, normally of 10 minute duration, each at about the mid—point of each four hours of duty. Rest periods may not, under any circumstances, be a continuation of the lunch period, and may not be granted immediately after the beginning of the tour or immediately prior to the end of the tour, nor shall they be accumulated.

 

Section 10. Employees may request to be assigned to an indefinite tour of duty. Employees expressing preference for evening or night tours will be given the opportunity to serve on these tours of duty provided an appropriate vacancy occurs in which the nurse’s grade level, skills and interests can be utilized. Such placements will be made for an indefinite period as long as the nursing performance is satisfactory and nursing skills are kept current. Request for assignment to evening or night tours may be submitted in writing at any time. In applying this provision, the Employer reserves the right to reassign employees to the day tour as determined necessary (e.g. improving performance levels, leadership assignment, or additional training).

 

Section 11. Standard tours of duty are specified in Hospital Memorandum number 61C. Day tour is defined as any tour starting between 6 AM and 10 AM with the exception of the operating room and the ambulatory care clinics where the day tour is defined as any tour starting between 6 AM to 11:30 AM. Standard tours will not be changed without discussion with the Union and approval by the Medical Center Director.

 

Section 12. The Employer agrees to schedule holidays off on an equitable basis among qualified RN’s and provide opportunity for the employee to indicate her preference by written request. Those desiring to work any holiday will also submit their requests in writing. Assessments of employees holiday the previous year, i.e. was the same holiday granted the preceding year, will be used to settle conflicts.

 

Section 13. Full—time employees will be given preference In assignments to indefinite late tours and will not be rotated from their usual tour to accommodate requests of part—time employees. The Employer will consider the part—time employee’s specific requests and if request cannot be granted will, if possible, offer another assignment where the preferred schedule can be granted. The Employer will provide the part—time employee with a written memo confirming a scheduling plan which meets the needs of the work area; if needs change, the Employer will notify the employee in advance and discuss any proposed change before altering the scheduling plan. Tours of duty for the part—time employee will usually be evenings or nights; day tours will be considered in order to utilize specialized skills or to meet special needs of a specific area, but not at the expense of reducing day tours for full—time employees who desire day tours.

 

Section 14. Nurses will not be scheduled to work more than two different tours of duty in 2 pay periods (either days/evenings or days/nights). There will be promotion and encouragement of the concept and maintenance of indefinite two—tour schedules whenever possible, as consistently as possible and for periods as long as possible. Priority consideration in establishment of such schedules must be the assignment to each tour of an RN who is qualified for overall responsibility. When it is possible to establish indefinite two—tour schedules, the RN’s will be requested to identify their preferred tours; the qualified RN’s length of service in the specific taut will initially be the basis for resolving conflicts over choice of tours; thereafter, the date of request will be the basis for resolving choice of tour conflicts. When it is necessary to require that a qualified RN rotate from her preferred late tour the selection will be based on length of service in the specific unit and the nurse will be returned to her preferred late tour as soon as possible. Any nurse may request in writing to rotate to all three tours.

 

Section 15. Employee requests except emergencies for special days off or for specific tours are to be submitted to the immediate supervisor in writing in the Ward Request Book at least four weeks in advance of scheduled posting time. The immediate supervisor will respond i-n writing next to the request either approval or disapproval. If unable to approve the request, discussion will be held with the employee.

 

Section 16. Every unit employee whose tour of duty includes a 30—minute unpaid period for a meal will be encouraged to leave her work area during her mealtime. If ward conditions are such that a nurse is too busy to get relief for the meal period or meal coverage is not available from the designated area, the nurse with administrative responsibility should notify the nursing supervisor who will provide coverage.

 

 Back to Top 

 

 

ARTICLE XVI: OVERTIME

 

Section 1. Authorized time spent in excess of 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week shall be considered overtime work. Fifteen minutes is the minimum period of overtime that can be authorized.

 

Section 2. As a general rule, first consideration for overtime will be given to those qualified employees who are currently assigned where the overtime work is required. Secondly, it will be equitably distributed among qualified employees who desire overtime.

 

Section 3. Any overtime duty required of employees will be equitably distributed as outlined in Section 2 consistent with the needs of the service. However, overtime duty should not be required of employees when it will impair their health or efficiency or cause extreme hardship to them.

 

Section 4. Employees who work overtime shall be allowed a 10 minute break at approximately the mid—point of every four hours work.

 

Section 5. All call—back overtime work shall be considered to be at least two hours in duration.

 

 Back to Top 

 

 

ARTICLE XVII: ASSIGNMENTS AND REASSIGNMENTS

 

Section 1. Employees will be furnished with a copy of their “role, functions and responsibilities” and Qualification Standards during initial orientation and thereafter whenever revised or updated. Information relating to assignment and reassignment will be provided to every new staff nurse.

 

Section 2. The Employer will consider to the extent possible, the professional qualifications of its employees before filling vacancies. Every vacancy within Nursing Service will be posted on the third floor Nursing Service bulletin board. The selection will be based on clinical competency, experience and education. The Employer will consider the views, recommendations, qualifications and career goals of employees in  making assignments and reassignments.

 

Section 3. Vacancies in staff nurse assignments and Head Nurse positions will be posted on the Nursing Service bulletin board, 3rd floor, Building 43. Functional statements of existing nursing vacancies with the qualifications required will be made available to a nurse upon request. The RN has a responsibility to make her interest and preferences known to her supervisor.  The Employer will consider these interests and preferences when filling vacancies.

 

Section 4. An employee may apply for a reassignment in advance of the vacancy occurring, or at the tine the vacancy actually exists. Requests for reassignment to another area should be submitted in writing. Requests will be acknowledged in writing by the employer within 10 calendar days; if no vacancy exists in the area requested, the nurse’s name will be chronologically entered on the waiting list for such an area or position and she will be considered whet: an opening occurs. Any employee may inquire as to the status of her request. The employee will resubmit her request annually if still interested in reassignment.

 

Section 5. All position changes or reassignments will be made in accordance with VAMC policies, regulations and guidelines. In filling vacant positions and reassignments, consideration will be given to employees with the appropriate clinical competency, experience and education.

 

Section 6. Any nurse desiring a transfer to another government facility shall write a letter to that facility requesting the transfer. When the chief, Nursing Service receives a request from another facility she will assist the nurse in finalizing transfer preparations.

 

Section 7. TWX announcements of vacancies in other VA Medical Centers will be posted on the third floor nursing bulletin board. The Chief, Nursing Service, or her designee, will assist any nurse, who is interested and qualified, in responding to the TWX.

 

 Back to Top 

 

 

ARTICLE XVIII: LEAVE

 

Section 1. All leave will be administered equitably, giving consideration to the employee’s request in accordance with VA regulations.

 

Section 2. Requests for planned annual leave for the ensuing leave year will be made in writing beginning in November, but no later than January 2nd of each year. The posting of the following 12 months annual leave schedule will be by March 1.  The annual leave planning year will be March 1 to March 1.  Normally, no more than two consecutive weeks of annual leave will be granted during the period May 15 to September 15.  Approved annual leave schedules will be posted by the end of the previous planning year and will remain posted during the entire planning year.

 

Section 3. Conflicts in annual leave requests will be resolved on the basis of the following considerations: (listed in priority order)

 

     a. Assessment of employee’s leave the previous year, i.e. were same days granted the preceding year, etc.

 

     b. Date of the request for requests submitted after January

 

     c. Length of service in the VA.

 

Section 4. Employees may request days off immediately preceding or following scheduled annual leave. Written decisions on these requests will be given at least 5 weeks prior to the beginning of the annual leave.

 

Section 5. After planned annual leave is scheduled, approved and posted, it will not be changed or cancelled unless the nurse depletes her accumulated leave prior to the time for which it was granted. Requests by a nurse for a change in approved annual leave will be considered when such change would not adversely affect the time granted to another employee.

 

Section 6. Every reasonable attempt will be made to satisfy the request of employees with respect to the approving of special or extended vacations. Normally LWOP will not be granted as an extension of annual leave.

 

Section 7. When a nurse is assigned to another unit by the Employer, she will retain her approved annual leave. If the reassignment is requested by the nurse, the approved annual leave will be retained only if there is an available opening in the new unit for the same dates. If not available, the nurse will be given an opportunity to request leave for other open dates and, if acceptable dates are not available, to withdraw the request for the change in assignment.

 

Section 8. Single annual leave days or hours will be granted whenever possible.

 

Section 9. Annual leave days may be granted by the Employer during the two—week period over Christmas and New Year. In patient care units, such annual leave will usually not exceed 3 days for full—time employees or 2 days for part—time employees in order to permit more employees additional time off during the holiday season. These annual leave days cannot be granted prior to December of the year in which requested. Conflicts will be resolved on the basis of:

 

     a. Assessment of the employees leave the previous year, i.e. were the same days granted the preceding year.

 

     b. Date of the request.

 

Section 10. Employees are encouraged to plan military leaves at times outside the dates for prime annual leave. Military leave that must be taken during prime annual leave time will not affect that employee’s right to have annual leave for vacation use.

 

Section 11. To prevent loss of leave nurses have the responsibility to request annual leave for the entire five weeks if they have reached the maximum which may be accumulated. Nurses have the right to request their maximum earned leave provided it is in accordance with Section 2 of this Article.

 

Section 12. Sick leave will be granted according to current Manual regulations. The Employer and the Union agree that sick leave is to be used only for purposes of employee health and well being. The Employer and the Union will encourage nurses to use their Sick leave wisely.

 

Section 13. Employees will not be required to disclose the nature of their illness to their supervisor when requesting sick leave except:

 

     a. If injury or accident at work are the reason for requesting sick leave, the employee must disclose such injury or accident to her supervisor.

 

     b. Employees who have infections or communicable diseases must disclose this in order that they may be examined to preclude transmitting such condition to patients or other employees.

 

     c. An employee who has been notified in writing that her sick leave usage is unsatisfactory may be required to furnish a medical certificate before being granted sick leave.

 

Section 14. When a nurse returns from leave without pay of over 30 days, the Employer shall assign the nurse to a vacant position on the most appropriate unit for utilizing the nurse’s particular skills and for promoting nursing program objectives.  If the nurse wishes, she shall be considered with other applicants for the first vacancy on her previous unit. Selection will be based on the qualifications of the applicant.

 

 Back to Top 

 

 

ARTICLE XIX: RESIGNATION

 

Section 1. An employee who resigns will give the Employer as much advance notice as possible. Courtesy and professionalism favor a four week’s notice.

 

 

 

ARTICLE XX: REDUCTION IN FORCE

 

Section 1. The Employer agrees to provide the Union with as much advance information as possible concerning proposed reductions in force which may affect the career employees in the Unit. The Employer further agrees to minimize the effect on career employees to whatever extent possible to avoid separation of career employees in full compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

 

 

 

ARTICLE XXI: SAFETY AND HEALTH SERVICES

 

Section 1. The Employer will continue to provide a safe and healthful work place for all employees and will comply with applicable federal laws and regulations relating to the safety and health of its employees. The Employer and all employees are responsible for prompt reporting of observed unsafe conditions.

 

Section 2. The Employer agrees to compile and maintain a record of all accidents and their causes. The Employer will follow guidelines established by the Veteran’s Administration which apply the requirements, processes and practices set forth in the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and Executive Order 11807.

 

Section 3. Minutes of the Medical Center Safety Committees meetings and a summary of all accident reports discussed at that meeting will be sent to the Union.

 

Section 4. An employee or group of employees will not be required to work under conditions which are unsafe or unhealthy beyond those inherent hazards which cannot be eliminated by standard safety practice and procedures.

 

Section 5. Protective devices, when necessary and required, shall be furnished by the Employer and used by the employee.

 

Section 6. In the event a federal safety inspector visits the installation, a Union representative may accompany them on the tour.

 

Section 7. The Employer hereby agrees to maintain an occupational health program and to provide the following services:

 

     1. Emergency diagnosis and first treatment of injury or illness that become necessary during working hours;

 

     2. Pre—employment examinations of persons selected for appointment (within the limitations of DM&S MP-5, Part 2, Chapter 10);

 

     3. Within the constraints of available resources, preventive services including:

 

           a. Preventing and controlling health risks,

 

           b. health education programs, and

 

           c. specific screening examinations and immunizations.

 

     4. Based on preventive service findings the Personnel Physician will encourage the employee to seek appropriate follow—up medical care.

 

     5. Voluntary annual physicals f or nurses. Employees on indefinite PM and night tours may request a day tour for the purpose of obtaining their annual physicals.  Adequate advance notice must be given to permit such scheduling.

 

Section 8. The Employer will inform employees of the benefits of the Office of Workers Compensation Program by way of the Employee Handbook, periodic Employee Newsletter articles, and Hospital Policy Memorandum 77 Section 7B, a copy of which is on each ward.

 

Section 9. Upon request the Union will be provided a copy of all reports required by regulations that implement Executive Order 11612 Occupational Safety and Health Program for Federal Employees.

 

Section 10. For safety reasons, when it is necessary for an employee to work alone In an isolated area, periodic checks at least every 2 hours of the area will be arranged by the Employer.

 

Section 11. Consideration will be given to employee recommendations concerning any conditions which affect employee safety and work environment. A response will be made to an employee’s safety suggestion within a reasonable amount of time.

 

Section 12. An emergency car starting service will be provided as long as appropriate resources are available.

 

Section l3. Clothing lockers shall be assigned to employees whose work requires a change of clothing.

 

 Back to Top 

 

 

ARTICLE XXII: GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE

 

Section 1. The purpose of this Article is to provide a mutually acceptable method for prompt and equitable settlement of grievances.

 

Section 2. A grievance means any complaint by any employee concerning any matter relating to the employment of the employee; by the union concerning any matter relating to the employment of any employee; or by any employee, the Union, or the Employer concerning the effect or interpretation or a claim of breach of collective bargaining agreement; any claimed violation, misinterpretation or misapplication of any law, rule, or regulation affecting conditions of employment. It shall not include a grievance concerning any claimed violation relating to prohibited political activities; or retirement, life insurance, or health insurance; or a suspension or removal for National Security reason Section 7532; or any examination, certification or appointments; or the classification of any position which does not result in the reduction in grade or pay of an employee.

 

Section 3. This negotiated procedure shall be the exclusive procedure available to the Union and the Employees in the Bargaining Unit for resolving such grievances except as provided in Section 4 of this Article.

 

Section 4. An aggrieved employee affected by discrimination may at his/her option raise the matter under the statutory appeals procedure or the negotiated grievance procedure, but not both. An employee shall be deemed to have exercised her option at such time as the employee timely initiates an action under the applicable statutory procedure or timely files a grievance in writing under this negotiated grievance procedure, whichever event occurs first.

 

Section 5. In the event either party should declare a grievance non—grievable and/or non—arbitrable, the original grievance shall be considered amended to include this issue. The employer agrees to raise any question of grievability and/or arbitrability of a grievance within 7 calendar days of receipt of the grievance by the Medical Center Director. All disputes of grievability and/or arbitrability shall be referred to arbitration as a threshold issue in the related grievance.

 

Section 6. The grievance procedure shall assure an exclusive representative the right, in its own behalf or on behalf of any employee in the unit represented by the exclusive representative, to present and process grievances. The grievance procedure shall also assure such an employee the right to present a grievance on the employee’s own behalf, and assure the exclusive representative the right to be present during the grievance proceeding.

 

Section 7. Moat grievances arise from misunderstandings or disputes which can be settled by discussion promptly and satisfactorily at the immediate supervisory level. The Employer and the Union agree that most grievances can be settled by the employee and immediate supervisor. Inasmuch as dissatisfactions and disagreements arise occasionally among people in any work situation, the filing of a grievance shall not be construed as reflecting unfavorably on an employee’s good standing, her performance or her loyalty or desirability to the organization. Reasonable times during working hours will be allowed for employees and Union representatives to discuss, prepare for, and present grievances including attendance at meetings with Management officials.

 

Section 8. The grievance shall first be taken up verbally within 10 days of the occurrence or from when the employee or steward become aware of the occurrence with the appropriate supervisor in an attempt to settle the matter. If a satisfactory settlement is not thus obtained, the matter will be reduced to writing and processed as follows:

 

     Step 1:    The written grievance will be presented to the employee’s next higher level supervisor within 10 calendar days following the discussion with the immediate supervisor. The higher level supervisor will meet with the employee and the Union Steward that covers the area and/or the Chief Steward within 5 calendar days of receipt of the grievance.  The higher level supervisor will render a written decision within 5 calendar days of the meeting.

 

     Step 2:    If the grievance is not settled in Step 1, the Union representative may, within 5 calendar days of receipt of the written decision forward the grievance to the Chief, Nursing Service for further consideration. The Chief, Nursing Service or designee will meet with the employee and Steward and/or Chief Steward within 5 calendar days after receipt of the grievance. The Chief, Nursing Service or designee, shall render a written decision within 5 calendar days after the meeting.

 

     Step 3:    If the grievance is not settled in Step 2, the Union Representative may forward the written grievance within 5 calendar days of receipt of the written decision to the Medical Center Director. The Medical Center Director or designee will take whatever steps he deems necessary to investigate the grievance, including meeting with the Employee and Union representative and will render his written decision within 12 calendar days after receipt of the grievance.

 

     Step 4:    If the grievance is not settled In Step 3, the Union or Employer may refer the matter to arbitration in accordance with Article XXIII of this agreement.

 

Section 9. A grievance which impacts on more than one employee is a group grievance. Such grievances shall be discussed initially at the appropriate level. If no resolution is achieved at this stage the grievance will be presented in writing to the Chief, Nursing Service by the Union Chief Steward. The Chief, Nursing Service will meet with the Employees, the Chief Steward of the Union and/or the Union President, and necessary resource people, within 7 calendar days of receipt of the grievance. A written response to the grievance will be given by the Chief, Nursing Service within 7 calendar days of the meeting. If the grievance is not resolved at this level the grievance will be carried forward as in Section 8, Step 3.

 

Section 10. The Union may submit grievances which do not concern the complaint of an individual unit employee or group of employees. Such Union grievances shall be submitted in writing by the Local President or designee directly to the Medical Center Director. The Employer may submit grievances concerning alleged violations of this agreement. Such Employer grievances will be submitted in writing by the Medical Center Director or designee directly to the Local President. In an effort to resolve Union or Employer grievances, the Medical Center Director and Union President will meet, and a written decision concerning the grievance will be rendered within 12 calendar days of receipt of the grievance. If the matter is not settled by this method either party may refer the matter to arbitration in accordance with Article XXIII.

 

Section 11. All time limits in this Article may be extended by mutual agreement of the Employer and the Union. Failure of the Employer to observe time limits shall entitle the Union to advance the grievance to the next step. Failure of the employee or Union to observe the time limits will terminate the grievance.

 

Back to Top  

 

 

ARTICLE XXIII: ARBITRATION

 

Section 1. If the Employer and the Union fail to settle any grievance processed under the negotiated grievance procedure, such grievance, upon written request by either party, within 30 calendar days after completion of the final step of the grievance procedure, shall be submitted to arbitration. Arbitration may be invoked only by the Union or the Employer.

 

Section 2. Within seven calendar days from the date of the request for arbitration, the parties shall jointly request the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to provide a list of seven impartial persons qualified to act as arbitrators. The parties shall meet within five calendar days after the receipt of such list, If they cannot mutually agree upon one of the listed arbitrators the Employer and the Union will each strike one arbitrator’s name from the list of seven and will then repeat this procedure until only one name remains.  The remaining person shall be the duly selected arbitrator.

 

Section 3. The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service shall be empowered to make a direct designation of an arbitrator to hear the case in the event:

 

     a. Either party refuses to participate in the selection of an arbitrator, or

 

     b. Upon inaction or undue delay on the part of either party.

 

Section 4. If the parties fail to agree on a joint submission of the issue for arbitration, each shall submit a separate submission and the arbitrator shall determine the issue or issues to be heard.

 

28. Section 5. The arbitrator’s fee and the expense of the arbitration, if any, shall be borne equally by the Employer and Union. The arbitration hearing will be held, if possible, on the Employer’s premises during the regular day shift hours of the basic work week. All participants in the hearing shall be in a duty status.

 

Section 6. The arbitrator will be requested to render his decision as quickly as possible, but in any event not later than 30 days after the conclusion of the hearing unless the parties mutually agree to extend the time limit.

 

Section 7. The arbitrator’s award shall be binding on the parties. However, either party may file exceptions to an award with the Federal Labor Relations Authority, under regulations prescribed by the Authority.

 

 Back to Top 

 

 

ARTICLE XXIV: DISCIPLINARY ACTIONS

 

Section 1. A disciplinary action for the purpose of this Article is defined as a written admonishment, reprimand, suspension, demotion or discharge, taken in accordance with the procedures outlined in MP—5, Part II and related DM&S Supplements and any subsequent amendments thereto.

 

     THE FOLLOWING SENTENCE HAS NOT BEEN APPROVED BY V.A.C.O. AND IS CURRENTLY UNDER LITIGATION. MANAGEMENT’S POSITION IS THAT THIS SENTENCE IS NOT IN EFFECT BECAUSE IT IS CONTRARY TO LAW. THE UNION’S      POSITION IS THAT THIS SENTENCE IS IN EFFECT. ISSUES PERTAINING TO THIS SENTENCE ARE PENDING BEFORE APPROPRIATE AUTHORITIES. WHEN FINAL DISPOSITION IS MADE, THIS ARTICLE WILL BE AMENDED ACCORDINGLY AS OUTLINED IN OUR NEGOTIATED AGREEMENT.

 

     “No bargaining unit employee will be the subject of a disciplinary action except for just and sufficient cause.”

 

Section 2. In any examination of an employee by a representative of the VA in connection with an investigation, if the employee reasonably believes that the examination may result in disciplinary action, the employee has an absolute right to request union representation. No further questioning will take place until the representative is present, providing a representative is reasonably available.

 

Section 3. An employee who received an admonishment signed by the Medical Center Director may appeal the decision in writing through channels to the Chief Medical Director who acts for the Administrator in rendering the decision on the appeal.

 

Section 4. The Employer agrees to informally discuss with the employee and, if requested, her Union representative, the basis for any proposed disciplinary action prior to it being reduced to writing. The Employer will carefully consider the employee’s views prior to submitting the proposed disciplinary action in writing and will inform the employee and representative of the intent prior to initiating the formal action.

 

Section 5. The employee may be represented by the Union in hearings conducted by a Disciplinary Board. If she elects other representation, she may also request that a Union representative be present as an observer.

 

Section 6. If a matter is pending before a court of law or the employee involved is under arrest or indictment, and the matter is otherwise arbitral under this Agreement, the arbitration will take place within the time frames of the Grievance Procedure.

 

Section 7. If the discipline is based on an investigation report, those portions of all written documents from the investigation report which relate to the specifications will be furnished to the employee, upon request, subject to Privacy Act provisions.

 

Section 8. An employee will, upon request, in any disciplinary action, be furnished a copy of all written documents which contain material or evidence relied on by the employer as a basis for the reasons and specifications. Evidence which management is not permitted to divulge to the employee under the Privacy Act will not be used against the employee.

 

Section 9. All actions taken under this Article are subject to the provisions of Chapter 71, Title 5 U.S.C.

 

 Back to Top 

 

 

ARTICLE XXV: EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

 

Section 1. Recognizing the impact that personal problems may have on job performance, the Union agrees to cooperate fully with the Employer in maintaining a program of assistance to the employees and their families through the employee assistance program as outlined in Hospital Policy Memorandum 05—7.

 

Section 2. The employment rights of any employee who participates in this program will not in any way be diminished or jeopardized solely because of her involvement in the program.

 

 

 

ARTICLE XXVI: DUES WITHHOLDING

 

Section 1. The Employer agrees to withhold and remit to the Union the Union dues of members in good standing of the Union who voluntarily authorize allotments for this purpose.

 

Section 2. There will be a Memorandum of Understanding for dues withholding which will bind both parties. There will be no cost to the employee or Union for dues withholding.

 

Section 3. Nothing in this Agreement shall require an employee to become or to remain a member of the Union or to pay money to the Union except pursuant to a voluntary written authorization by a member for the payment of dues through payroll deductions.

 

 Back to Top 

 

 

ARTICLE XXVII: IMPASSES IN NEGOTIATIONS

 

Section 1. When it has been determined that an impasse has been reached, the items shall be Set aside. After all negotiable items on which agreement can be reached have been disposed of, the parties shall once more attempt to resolve any existing impasse items.

 

Section 2. If the Employer or the Union concludes that an impasse has been reached on an issue which has been in the negotiation process for 30 or more days since it was first discussed, either party may request mediation of the impasse by notifying the other party of its position in writing together with a notice of intent to request mediation. Within 14 days of receipt of the notice, the other party may submit in the interest of compromise, a counterproposal. Failure to submit a counterproposal within these 14 days will constitute agreement to proceed with mediation.

 

Section 3. If, after discussion between the parties of a counter-proposal submitted in accordance with Section 2 above, either party concludes that the impasse still exists, it shall thereupon notify the other party in writing and request mediation as indicated in Section 4 below.

 

Section 6. Within seven days after either or both parties concluded that the impasse still exists and requested mediation, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service will be requested to provide mediation service.

 

Section 5. The above does not preclude either party from presenting in the interest of reaching agreement, a substantive counter proposal at any stage in this procedure that would continue negotiations without the assistance of mediation.

 

Section 6. It shall be the function of the mediator to assist both parties without taking sides. The mediator shall make no public recommendations concerning the issues.

 

Section 7. When voluntary arrangements, including the services of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, fail to resolve a negotiation impasse, either party may request the Federal Services Impasse Panel to resolve the impasse in accordance with Title 5 and rules of the Panel.

 

 Back to Top 

 

 

ARTICLE XXVIII: DURATION OF AGREEMENT

 

Section 1. This Agreement will remain in full force and effect for three years from the date of approval by the Chief Medical Director. It shall be renewed automatically on a year—to—year basis thereafter. Each such renewal period will constitute a new duration period with a new effective date.

 

Section 2. Either party may give written notice to the other. not more than 105 nor less than 60 days prior to the three year expiration date and each subsequent expiration date, for the purpose of terminating or renegotiating this Agreement. The present Agreement will remain in full force and effect during the renegotiating of said Agreement and until such time as a new Agreement is approved.

 

Section 3. Either party may give written notice to the other, not more than 105 nor fewer than 60 days prior to the 18—month midpoint, of its intention to reopen and thus amend or modify the Agreements. In reopening the Agreement, the parties do not intend to renegotiate the entire contract.

 

Section 4. When notices are served in accordance with the provisions of this article, it shall be the responsibility of the party initiating the notice also to notify the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

 

 

 

ARTICLE XXIX: DISTRIBUTION OF AGREEMENT

 

Section 1. Copies of this Agreement will be furnished to all Bargaining Unit employees, and to the supervisory and management personnel responsible for administering or interpreting this Agreement.

 

Section 2. Twenty—five (25) additional copies will also be furnished to the Union for its use.

 

Section 3. The cost of printing the Agreement for the purposes stated above shall be borne by the Employer. Every new employee will receive a copy of this Agreement at the time of orientation. These will be provided to the employee by the Medical Center.

 

Back to Top