Schedule B Employees at USDA Agency Vote for Representation by AFSCME Council

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

(Bureau of National Affairs)

A group of Foreign Agricultural Service employees have voted to be represented by Council 26 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and its affiliate, AFSCME Local 3976, according to a tally sheet issued June 14 by the Federal Labor Relations Authority, which conducted the election.

FAS is an agency within the Agriculture Department. Out of 98 eligible voters in the bargaining unit, which is located in Washington, D.C., the employees elected representation by AFSCME over no union by a vote of 52-8. The employees voted by internet and telephone over a one-month period that ended June 13. Ballots were tabulated June 14.

The employees involved in the election were hired under Schedule B authorities, which usually are reserved for situations where applicants are required to meet qualification standards for the job, bypassing procedures set by Congress and the Office of Personnel Management, the union said. Typically, it said, Schedule B employees are hired for a specific period of time with the threat of termination at any point, are not entitled to all of the due process rights of other federal employees, and have limited career advancement opportunities.

These issues became a major impetus for the employees to organize, the union said.

Opportunity for 'Formal Voice' at Work.

Alex Gittelson, an FAS Schedule B employee in the new bargaining unit, said in the union's statement that FAS employees appreciated the opportunity to have a formal voice at work.

We look forward to working for a unified agency and taking concrete steps toward more consistent and effective career opportunities, he said. Such advances will also provide FAS with a larger and more vetted pool of qualified employees to choose from when filling positions.

The group will join other FAS civil service employees who have been represented since 1994 by Council 26, the union said. Carl Goldman, executive director of Council 26, told BNA June 14 that there are about 350 FAS employees in the existing unit.

According to the statement from the council, it is a coalition of 18 local AFSCME unions. In addition to USDA employees, locals in the council represent federal employees at the Library of Congress, the Justice Department, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Peace Corps, the Corporation for National and Community Service, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the Voice of America, the Architect of the Capitol, and the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center.

By Louis C. LaBrecque

Copyright 2012, The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc.

Reproduced with permission from Government Employee Relations Report, 50 GERR 746 (June 19,2012). Copyright 2012 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (800-372-1033) <>


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