Unions want say in telework policymaking

Coalition of unions for federal workers detail what they think makes a successful telework policy

The Obama administration may have embraced telework, but that willingness is not translating into more federal employees teleworking, according to labor unions that represent those workers.

So, this week about a half-dozen unions offered Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry some help in developing policies that would help ratchet up the numbers of teleworking feds.

A coalition of seven unions — including the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, the National Association of Government Employees, and the National Federation of Federal Employees — sent Berry a letter requesting a seat at the table as agencies work to develop federal telework policies and expand telework options.

As part of his telework program, Berry earlier this year announced the creation of an advisory group of key telework program managers who would help formulate standards for agency policies and programs.

“Creating and implementing a successful telework program would obviously require the involvement of the unions representing federal workers,” the letter stated. “We can provide unique insights into identifying employees that are best suited for telework.”

The Nov. 10 letter also offered a short list of initial suggestions to get the ball rolling. The unions said a successful telework policy should:

  • Inform feds and their unions of available teleworking options.
  • Provide resources to train managers on telework policies and enlist employee input.
  • Train eligible employees to ensure teleworking productivity and success.
  • Ensure that IT procurement policies dovetail with the goal of increasing telework.
  • Review successful teleworking programs annually so those programs can be replicated.

“We are hopeful that given your support for telework we can finally put in place a working telework program,” the unions told Berry. “Our labor organizations would like to work with you to ensure that your efforts of providing meaningful telework opportunities to federal workers are a success.”

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Reader comments

Tue, Dec 22, 2009 Army Michigan

While some claim managers micromanage, here they have to baby-sit those workers who do not want to produce, especially the "Senior" unoin employees, yet get telework forthe same reason. That leaves everyone else holding the bag with the workload that gets passed on. Not to mention the teleworkers who claim they no longer have to meet face to face with partners and customers because they are not here. While they are home smoking at their computer screen in their sweats, guess who is left with that work now. At least your micromanagers make sure the mission comes first.

Fri, Dec 11, 2009 Army Illinoi

The only people that are "allowed" to telework at my agency are managers that have had some type of surgery. Employees that want to telework are flatly told "no", unless you are one of the good old boys/girls. The managers we have are such micromanagers, and control freaks it is unbelievable!

Fri, Dec 4, 2009 USDA, Farm Service Agency St. Louis, MO

Our AFGE Local negotiated an MOU to telework "up to" three days per week. Our managers don't bother with that language allowing the minimum ONE day per week. Gets better --> Reasonable Accomodation: COMPLETELY IGNORED. They would rather have excessive absenteeism and maintain their micro-managing control-freak behavior than allow the union-negotiated three telework days for an employee with persistent chronic health issues.

Mon, Nov 16, 2009 Navy

The unions know that most agencies do not want to telework. The old ways of doing things still prevails in most agencies (micro-manage). A good manager would embrace a new tool to see if it worked for them.

Fri, Nov 13, 2009 Navy

It would seem that with pay-for-performance going away and pay-for-showing-up coming back in, the unions don't even want to have to show up for pay.

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