The union that represents federal government employees at the Open of Personnel Management (OPM) on Monday said the agency has failed to address health safety concerns as it begins to reopen offices following the COVID-19 pandemic.
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) filed 13 unfair labor practice complaints against the agency over what it says is a lack of preparedness for returning workers. Employees at OPM were previously notified that they would be returning to their offices Monday, which was not properly bargained, the union said.
"Recently, our union applauded OPM’s guidance encouraging agencies to collectively bargain with the union, so it is troubling to hear that OPM leadership is not addressing the workplace concerns of our members," AFGE National President Everett Kelley said in a statement.
The union said local union leaders have cited logistical issues that must be addressed before employees can return to their worksites, including a lack of running water in parts of the work building, a lack of parking, no food source, a lack of available work stations and no plans for social distancing.
"OPM has set an arbitrary date for employees to return to physical worksites and refuses to budge, despite our numerous health and safety concerns," said AFGE Local 32 President Marlo Bryant-Cunningham. "Throughout the pandemic, OPM leaders repeatedly told workers that productivity improved significantly while employees worked remotely. Employees are telling our union they do not understand the rush to bring them back to an unsafe working environment and a pre-pandemic schedule when productivity has improved under expanded telework."
In a statement to Fox News, an OPM official said "we will continue our collaborative efforts with our union partners as we navigate our evolving hybrid work environment."