VA Employee Fairness Act of 2021 Gives VHA Employees Bargaining Rights

In June 2021, the House of Veterans Affairs Committee has passed the VA Employee Fairness Act of 2021, which sets up a vote in the House of Representatives. If signed into law, the bill would give tens of thousands of Veterans Health Administration (VHA) healthcare providers collective bargaining rights. 

Although VA has more than 350,000 employees, most of these workers are part of the VHA. Unfortunately, tens of thousands of VHA doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals are prohibited from collectively bargaining employment issues. 

The reason behind this disparity is because VHA employees are hired under Title 38, rather than U.S.C. Title 5 like most federal employees. Title 38 largely excluded VHA healthcare workers from engaging in collective bargaining. 

In recent years, the issue only became worse. Former VA secretary Robert Wilkie revoked labor organization use of “official time” in 2018, which stopped the union from handling employee grievances and other related matters during work hours. 

In a statement, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) said by not allowing VHA medical professionals to raise grievances, such as staff shortages that negatively impact patient care or pay and policy violations committed by management, the VHA will experience significant difficulties hiring and retaining Title 38 healthcare workers.  

AFGE concluded that the bill would improve the working conditions at the VA by enabling employees to address work-related issues through collective bargaining. 

The House will be tasked to review the proposed legislation under HR 1948, while the Senate will take a look at the companion bill, S. 771. 

If you are currently facing a VA federal employee matter with a legal dispute regarding your job, contact Pines Federal today at (888) 898-9902 and get a legal team with more than 50 years of combined experience on your side!