Senate Panel Passes Expanded Collective Bargaining For VA Health Care Providers
On Thursday, the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee approved a bill (S. 3486) that would extend collective bargaining to Department of Veterans Affairs Title 38 health care providers over issues concerning compensation. The measure was approved, 10-6, by the Committee.
Under current statute, VA employees under Title 38, including registered nurses, physician assistants, doctors, dentists, and other health care providers, cannot collectively bargain or be assured of reaching resolution on grievances for issues related to employee compensation.
If passed into law, this bill would expand collective bargaining on compensation issues at the VA; however, rates of basic pay would still be off the bargaining table. This bill also would not impact existing bans on bargaining over issues concerning professional conduct or competence and peer review.
Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) initially offered the measure as an amendment to another veterans’ bill (S. 3325), but the Committee passed the amendment as a stand-alone piece of legislation.
House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Filner (CA-51) has introduced a companion bill (H.R. 5543) that has yet to be considered.
“This is a very important bill for VA health care providers,” said NFFE Legislative Director Randy Erwin. “We just cleared a major hurdle, but we still have several more to clear before this bill becomes law. Right now the schedule is the biggest concern we have. Being an election year, there is not a lot of time left in this session of Congress. But we are trying to find a way to get this done. Clearing this Committee should give us momentum.”