NFFE Negotiates Several Wins in Settlement with Forest Service Regarding 4/10 Work Schedules


Internal NFFE News

May 8, 2024

Last week, the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) legal team reached a settlement agreement with the U.S. Forest Service regarding an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) that the union filed due to the agency’s refusal to bargain over Angeles National Forest (ANF) winter work schedules. The agency agreed to several items in the union’s favor, most notably the requirement for management to discuss any proposed work schedule changes with the union, and NFFE’s right to bargain over any concerns.

Among other agreements made in the settlement, management will be required to hold quarterly meetings with the union to discuss work schedules and other workplace conditions, and to follow all articles contained in the 2024 Master Agreement regarding seasonal schedule changes once approved. Further, management has agreed to grant forty hours of admin leave to each ANF employee affected by the work schedules dispute, to rescind disciplinary actions and destroy records relating to the work schedules dispute, and to not further discipline any bargaining unit employees in connection with the work schedules dispute.

For context, the original dispute occurred in December 2022, when management of the ANF unilaterally terminated the 4/10 work schedule and mandated that all employees revert to 5/8s. Management twice declined to bargain with Local 1650 leaders, which prompted the NFFE headquarters legal team to file a ULP. In August of last year, the Federal Labor Relations Authority sided with NFFE, concluding that the Forest Service violated the Work Schedules Act with the unilateral decision to institute 5/8 work schedules without giving NFFE the opportunity to bargain over the policy change. After nearly a year and a half of negotiations with NFFE attorneys and the NFFE Forest Service Council, management has now agreed to cooperate in good faith with the union over seasonal work schedules.

“We could not be happier with the result of this settlement,” said Local 1650 President Matt Brossard. “This is a huge win for our local and NFFE as a national union. Our brothers and sisters were unfairly forced to comply with a work schedule that was never negotiated with the union. Now we have the power to meet management at the bargaining table and make sure our members are on board with any future changes. This is significant because folks across the Forest Service are taking notice that NFFE has the power to make an impact on policies that are really important, like work schedules.”

“This is an enormous victory for not only Local 1650 and the Angeles National Forest, but for wildland firefighters across the country,” said NFFE National President Randy Erwin. “This settlement reaffirms the obligation for management to comply with the Work Schedules Act and to negotiate with NFFE prior to any schedule changes. For all the sacrifices our federal wildland firefighters make each season, these men and women deserve flexible work schedules when fire activity is low so that they have a chance to spend time with their families and decompress after months away from home battling wildfires. I am pleased that management recognizes this and is willing to meet us at the bargaining table if issues regarding work schedules arise in the future.”