Negotiations for federal employees easier under the Biden Administration

Darryll Bell, President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 31, joined America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss how federal government employees are faring under the Biden Administration, particularly when it comes to labor negotiations.

Bell also discussed the long hiring process at Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals and why more workers are needed to ensure high quality care for veterans.

Negotiations for federal workers move forward

Under President Biden, there is no longer an overt attack on the rights of federal workers as there was under the Trump administration, Bell said. The pressure to remove collective bargaining rights has subsided. Nevertheless, the AFGE cannot afford to fall asleep at the wheel, Bell stated. It must focus on increasing and solidifying collective bargaining rights.

Contract negotiations are moving forward at a much faster pace. In fact, this has been the most productive period for collective bargaining Bell has seen. Positive outcomes are being reached, unlike the outright failure to bargain as had been the case under the previous administration, he said.

The AFGE has been pushing for a 3 percent pay increase, but is currently settling for 2.7 percent. This is much needed as there were no increases for several years, despite families facing a higher cost of living.

HEROES Act needed to benefit frontline workers

The House passed the HEROES Act last year, but then Senate Leader Mitch McConnell refused to bring the bill to a vote in the Senate.

Though these workers have been declared essential, there was considerable pushback from America’s leaders when it came time to compensate those individuals facing harsh and dangerous work environments as they struggled to protect Americans during the pandemic. These workers face excessive risk every day and deserve to be compensated for their efforts, Bell said.

The new Congress needs to re-introduce the bill and send it to the president’s desk. That has yet to happen, but Bell is optimistic.

Understaffing continues to plague VA hospitals

Bell said that VA hospitals are currently understaffed, which can affect the quality of care veterans receive.

There are currently about 50,000 open staffing positions at VA hospitals across the country. The problem is the hiring process takes time, Bell said. It is currently an online application process, where applicants must confirm they possess certain skills and meet certain criteria. Then candidates are selected and scheduled for interviews.

Hiring has accelerated during the Biden administration, Bell said. Last year during the pandemic, an orientation may have accommodated 10 to 15 new hires. This year, it is easily 35 to 40, Bell indicated.


America’s Work Force Radio Podcast is available on iTunes, Google Play and wherever you stream your podcasts.

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Listen on Google Podcasts

Listen on Spotify

Listen on iHeart Radio


AMERICA’S WORK FORCE IS THE ONLY DAILY LABOR-RADIO PROGRAM IN THE US AND HAS BEEN ON THE AIR SINCE 1993, SUPPLYING LISTENERS WITH USEFUL, RELEVANT INPUT INTO THEIR DAILY LIVES THROUGH FACT-FINDING FEATURES, IN-DEPTH INTERVIEWS, INFORMATIVE NEWS SEGMENTS AND PRACTICAL CONSUMER REPORTS. AMERICA’S WORK FORCE IS COMMITTED TO PROVIDING AN ACCESSIBLE VENUE IN WHICH AMERICA’S WORKERS AND THEIR FAMILIES CAN HEAR DISCUSSION ON IMPORTANT, RELEVANT TOPICS SUCH AS EMPLOYMENT, HEALTHCARE, LEGISLATIVE ACTION, LABOR-MANAGEMENT RELATIONS, CORPORATE PRACTICES, FINANCES, LOCAL AND NATIONAL POLITICS, CONSUMER REPORTS AND LABOR ISSUES.

AMERICA’S WORK FORCE RADIO IS BROUGHT TO YOU IN PART BY OUR SPONSORS AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF MUSICIANS, BMA MEDIA GROUP, COLUMBUS-CENTRAL OHIO BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION TRADES COUNCIL, COMMUNICATION WORKERS OF AMERICA, HEAT AND FROST INSULATORS AND ALLIED WORKERS, INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MACHINISTS AND AEROSPACE WORKERS, INTERNATIONAL UNION OF PAINTERS AND ALLIED TRADES DISTRICT COUNCIL 6, KELLEY & FERRARO, LLP,  LABOR CITIZEN MAGAZINE, LABORERS INTERNATIONAL UNION OF NORTH AMERICA, NORTH COAST AREA LABOR FEDERATION, MARITIME TRADES DEPARTMENT, OHIO FEDERATION OF TEACHERS-AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS, UNITED AUTO WORKERS, UNITED LABOR AGENCY, UNITED STEELWORKERS.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.