New SBA union contract emphasizes flexible work policies

Thursday - 1/31/2013, 6:54pm EST

The Small Business Administration and the American Federation of Government Employees inked a new three-year deal Thursday, extending a number of flexible workplace policies to more than 2,000 federal employees.

"The signing of this contract signifies a positive shift in the relationship between AFGE and SBA and will help improve employee morale and the effectiveness of SBA in fulfilling the mission of the agency," said AFGE Council 228 President Elaine Powell-Belnavis in a statement.

The new contract calls for a new flexible work schedule, allowing employees to opt for a four-day work-week at 10 hours a day. The contract also aims to make it easier for SBA employees to sign up for and obtain manager approval to telework.

Also among the new benefits: an expanded transit subsidy for all employees and a new three-tiered system for employee-performance awards. The awards will recognize employees who come up with ways to improve the agency (similar to the White House's SAVE Award initiative), employees who reach the five-year milestone at SBA and employees whose performance deserves special commendation.

The last contract was ratified in 1999.

AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said the agreement was a result of "committed leadership" from union official and agency leaders, including SBA Administrator Karen Mills. Cox said he hoped to see more union agreements reached at other federal agencies in the near future.

AFGE and the Social Security Administration notably signed off on a four-year contract last year after two years of intense negotiations.

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