Officials of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) have reached final agreement on a new national collective bargaining agreement, their first since 1997.
"This agreement with our partners at NFFE will enable VA and our employees to focus on the important job ahead -- providing world-class care and services to the men and women who have served in uniform," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.
About 6,000 professional VA employees are eligible for NFFE membership. The signing ceremony took place Jan. 19 at VA's central office in Washington.
This was the final step in the Master Agreement negotiation process, which highlights the Secretary's commitment to collaborative labor-management relations in the VA.
Among the provisions of the contract are:
· Language that should help expedite mid-term bargaining,
· Commitment by the parties to resolve disputes without involving third parties, and
· Enhanced collaboration with union officials on work-related issues.
With about 330,000 employees, VA is the nation's second largest cabinet office in terms of workforce. VA employees operate 153 major medical centers, approximately 1,200 other sites of health care, manage a nationwide system of 131 national cemeteries, and administer about $75 billion in disability compensation, Veterans pensions, educational benefits, home loan guarantees, life insurance and other financial programs.