FLRA ruling allows union to create consolidated bargaining unit for FEMA workers nationwide
WASHINGTON – The American Federation of Government Employees has been named the exclusive representative for more than 2,500 bargaining unit employees at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The Federal Labor Relations Authority issued a ruling May 7 allowing individual bargaining units within FEMA to consolidate into a single national unit. AFGE was certified to be the exclusive representative of employees within the consolidated unit, pursuant to FLRA regulations and provisions of Title 5 of the U.S. Code.
The consolidated unit will cover employees in the following nine locations where AFGE has existing bargaining units:
- FEMA Region II, headquartered in New York City and covering employees in New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands
- FEMA Region III, headquartered in Philadelphia and covering employees in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia
- FEMA Region IV, headquartered in Atlanta and covering employees in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee
- FEMA Region V, headquartered in Chicago and covering employees in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin
- FEMA Region VII, headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., and covering employees in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska
- FEMA Region IX, headquartered in San Francisco and covering employees in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada and the Pacific Islands
- FEMA Headquarters in Washington, DC
- The National Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg, Md.
- The FEMA Special Facility in Mount Weather, Va.
Immediately upon notification of consolidation, representatives from the nine locals met in caucus and elected an interim president and an alternate. Gerald Collins, president of AFGE Local 3836 in FEMA Region IV, was elected interim president. Karl Desimone, president of AFGE Local 1754 at the Special Facility, was elected the alternate.
Collins said there are several advantages to employees being covered by a consolidated unit.
“The major advantage to the consolidation is that there will no longer be a need for nine separate negotiated agreements. Now we will have one agreement dealing with all issues of national concern throughout the agency. Another advantage will be in how unfair labor practices will now be handled by a single national entity instead of nine individual locals,” Collins said.
The existing locals will retain their autonomy on issues affecting employees on a local level, while benefiting from being part of a larger unit that can speak with one voice on matters affecting FEMA employees nationwide, Desimone said.
“While there is strength in numbers, the true test of any consolidation is how involved the locals are in the overall operations of the collective. We believe we potentially have the best of both worlds – individual autonomous locals and a consolidated, strong, representative national body,” Desimone said.