After four years of constant attacks from the Trump administration and its appointees, VA employees are confident the administration is heading in the right direction.
AFGE Executive Vice President for 6th District VA Council 262 Tinita Cole joined America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss a tentative collective bargaining agreement, the new VA Secretary and the abundance of vacancies and lack of PPE at some VA facilities.
Working on a collective bargaining agreement
Cole said the membership voted overwhelmingly against a CBA that would not have addressed their main concerns. In the meantime, they are awaiting their grievance to be addressed.
She said VA management left the bargaining table last week and they never actually wanted to mediate or reach a resolution. They are essentially acting like the previous administration is still in power.
VA Secretary Denis McDonough confirmed
Cole said she and others are excited about the confirmation of former Obama Chief of Staff McDonough, although they expect a lot out of him.
The members will hold him accountable and go on the offensive to get what is needed for their members. They expect to work with him though, as he has been supportive of President Biden’s executive orders pertaining to labor and the VA.
VA vacancies and PPE for workers
After a year of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, Cole said there still needs to be a focus on providing PPE to VA workers. At this point, there is no excuse for the lack of equipment.
Additionally, the need for more staff members is great. For years, VA vacancies have been filled by contractor nurses as opposed to full-time VA employees. This needs to be addressed immediately and not kicked down the road to the next administration.
Also talking about safety, Cole said there has been a problem with undisclosed COVID-19 infection status. Workers need to inform each other when they are dealing with a patient who has tested positive for COVID-19.