Common Ground: Union, management sign local supplement agreement

  • Published
  • By Jenny Gordon
  • Robins Public Affairs
An update to a Local Supplement Agreement to the Master Labor Agreement has been signed between Robins Air Force Base and the American Federation of Government Employees Local 987.

The document, last updated in 1982, was signed in late March, and was a culmination of nearly three years of negotiations from management and labor teams from across Robins. The LSA will become effective in May.

"This gives us a chance from both union and management at Robins to realize that we have more in common than we have things that divide us - we have a common interest," said Steve Stant, AFGE Local 987 vice president of maintenance and 561st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron mechanic. 

The LSA affects bargaining unit employees at Robins covered by Council 214 and the Air Force Materiel Command Master Labor Agreement, which became effective in April 2012. 

AFGE Local 987 has about 3,600 members, representing union interests from not only the Air Force, but the Defense Logistics Agency and Non-Appropriated Fund employees. 

It was agreed that during negotiations on updating the LSA, labor and management teams would use an interest-based bargaining approach, with help from a mediator from the Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service.

This vision of looking at the common interests shared by both sides would be better achieved by everyone working together, said Stant. 

"Ultimately we want our jobs to be here at Robins Air Force Base, and we want to do a good job so we can keep them here, and bring more here," he said. "It's much easier for that to happen with us all working together toward that goal."    

Labor and management also agreed that when writing the LSA, two primary goals were to be accomplished.

The first goal was reducing conflict between parties. The second was improving productivity, reducing cost and increasing efficiency across the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex. 

"Throughout the negotiations, I was encouraged because we kept staying true to these primary goals," said Mark Johnson, management team lead and 402nd Commodities Maintenance Group deputy director. "A lot of people came together to help us put together a document that I think will serve us well."  

In the end, 14 articles to the LSA were finalized, which include annual and sick leave call-in procedures; hours of work and tours of duty; alternate supervisors; and holiday staffing.      

New articles introduced include VERA/VSIP and reductions in force, and also the presence of union facilities at Robins. Those will include satellite AFGE offices in Bldgs. 140 and 125.  

The most significant new article involves overtime. It was found that many grievances through the years resulted from different interpretations of overtime procedures. That shouldn't happen going forward, as overtime will be processed through a computer program - the Overtime Automated Tracking System - which will offer an equitable distribution of overtime. 

"This ... will provide a level of integrity to this process, and will create a level of standardization that can be used across the base," said David Tucker, AFGE Local 987 trustee.       

Going line by line through the old LSA, as well as reviewing several hundred memorandums of understanding and memorandums of agreements that had been introduced over the years, took months to complete. There was also the issue of documenting MOUs/MOAs and other standalone documents which weren't attached to the former LSA. 

One notable change is that now a control mechanism exists so that all future MOAs/MOUs must be signed by the proper authorities, in this case the 78th Air Base Wing commander and AFGE president, or their designated representatives. A sunset clause was also included so that documents are automatically cancelled if not renewed.

Collaborative training has begun between union stewards and management on ways to implement changes addressed in the LSA.

"This LSA is so different and so new that there will definitely be challenges. I'm sure there will be growing pains," said Tucker. "(But) We will train on it - so we can all move forward together."