WASHINGTON—The Department of Veterans Affairs announced May 21 that it will no longer let doctors and nurses have union representation at hearings where they are facing punishment or firing. The VA told the American Federation of Government Employees that it was repudiating a provision of the union’s contract that gives workers the right to have an AFGE advocate if called before a disciplinary or professional-standards board. The agency called that provision, part of the contract since 2011, “null, void and unenforceable.” VA press secretary Curt Cashour told Talking Points Memo that it “interferes with federal law.” “This basically takes our collective bargaining agreement and just rips some pages out, taking away something that’s been in effect legally for many years,” AFGE public policy director Jacque Simon said. “These boards are life and death—whether your professional standards are certified and whether you have a job. Now you can’t have your union represent you at those hearings.” A 2017 law significantly reduced VA employees’ due-process rights. Read more


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