Labor Department Furloughs to Vary, From None to Up to 10 for Some Agencies

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By Louis C. LaBrecque

Unionized employees at Labor Department agencies have received notices regarding the number of proposed furlough days their agency expects them to take during the remainder of fiscal year 2013, with the number of proposed days varying widely by agency, a union official told BNA March 8.

Alex Bastani, president of Local 12 of the American Federation of Government Employees, said no furloughs are expected through the Sept. 30 end of FY 2013 due to sequestration for employees of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Mine Safety and Health Administration, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, and the Wage and Hour Division.

For other DOL agencies, he said, proposed furloughs are as follows:

  • Veterans' Employment and Training Services--10 days or less;

  • Administrative Law Judge Programs--eight days or less;

  • Business Operations Center--eight days or less;

  • Office of Workers' Compensation Programs--six days or less;

  • Employment and Training Administration--five days or less;

  • Office of Labor Management Standards--five days or less;

  • Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs--three days or less; and

  • Office of the Solicitor--two days or less.

Bastani noted that the number of furlough days identified in the notices will not necessarily be the final number for the affected employees. Depending on the agencies' resources, he said, employees may be furloughed for fewer days than proposed.

According to Bastani, AFGE Local 12 represents approximately 3,300 DOL employees. AFGE's National Council of Field Labor Locals represents another 8,500 DOL employees, he said, estimating that DOL as a whole has approximately 15,000 employees.

Memo Outlines Furlough Agreement
DOL has posted on its sequestration impact website a memorandum of understanding between DOL and the two AFGE unions, along with the National Union of Labor Investigators, an independent labor union.

The memo stated that “Bargaining unit employees will not be adversely impacted in their performance appraisal due to furloughs.” It also said “Agencies are expected to inform all employees of any changes to agency plans or priorities caused by sequestration.”

“The three DOL Unions will have up to 60 days after a sequestration order is issued to request bargaining for any agency to address employee performance standards impacted by sequestration, in accordance with applicable collective bargaining agreements,” the memo said.

In addition, the memo laid out rules for providing notices of proposed furloughs and for employee requests for specific furlough days. In the event of competing demands for the same furlough days, disputes will be resolved on the basis of seniority in accordance with applicable collective bargaining agreements, the memo said.

DOL did not respond March 8 to a request from BNA for comment regarding its furlough plans.

By Louis C. LaBrecque

Text of the memorandum of understanding is available at /uploadedfiles/BNA_V2/Images/From_BNA_V1/News/DOL-Union-Memo(1).pdf.

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