Occupational Safety & Health Reporter℠

Union Wins Approval at Safety Agency Trump Sought to Close

May 1, 2018, 5:01 PM

Workers at a 40-person agency that investigates industrial accidents will form a union after a majority of eligible employees voted to affiliate with the American Federation of Government Employees May 1.

U.S. Chemical Safety Board staff voted 10-5 in favor of joining AFGE, results show. The agency has been targeted for closure in both of the Trump administration’s budget proposals.

“I think it’s a very positive result,” Peter Winch, a special assistant for AFGE District 14 in Washington, told Bloomberg Environment May 1. “We look forward to bargaining on behalf of the employees.”

Board leaders “look forward to working with the union on our shared goals of a strong and engaged workforce,” Chemical Safety Board Chairperson Vanessa Sutherland said in a statement to Bloomberg Environment May 1.

Contract Priorities

In the short term, AFGE hopes to secure a grievance and arbitration process for board employees and eventually negotiate a more comprehensive labor contract with the board, Winch said.

The agency, like the National Transportation Safety Board, issues nonbinding recommendations to companies, trade organizations, and other federal, state, and local agencies after an industrial accident. It does not make regulations or impose fines.

Staff at the Federal Labor Relations Authority, which oversees labor negotiations at federal agencies, counted ballots May 1 at the FLRA’s offices in Washington. The ballots were mailed by board employees who work in Washington, Denver, and elsewhere. The FLRA will officially certify the ballots within five days.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sam Pearson in Washington at spearson@bloombergenvironment.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rachael Daigle at rdaigle@bloombergenvironment.com

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