GSA, union tussle over warehouse closures

GSA, union tussle over warehouse closures

By Christopher J. Dorobek

GCN Staff

Despite a union arbitrator's ruling that directed the General Services Administration to halt the closing of eight supply warehouses, GSA plans to proceed with the closures and move to direct vendor sales via online ordering.

The American Federation of Government Employees Council of GSA Locals, which represents the warehouse employees, had asked a federal arbitrator to review the plan.

The arbitrator ruled that GSA must cancel the warehouse closings and begin negotiations with the union.

GSA Administrator David J. Barram said last week that the agency will appeal the ruling and go ahead with the project while it awaits the outcome of further arbitration.

Arbitrator Jerome H. Ross ruled earlier this month that GSA had failed to bargain with the union as required by a 1993 memorandum of understanding between the union and GSA.

In that memo, GSA agreed to negotiate all reinvention-related initiatives.

Ross said that a March 1 memo from GSA Federal Supply Service Commissioner Frank Pugliese characterized the warehouse shutdown as consistent with the objectives of the National Partnership for Reinventing Government. The memo clearly established that the agency considered the decision a reinvention initiative, Ross noted in his ruling.

'In effect, the FSS commissioner explained the decision was being made because the world had changed and FSS must change with it. He asked employees to create a new business model,' Ross said.

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