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(Left to Right) Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki, AFGE National VA Council President Alma Lee and AFGE National President John Gage at the signing of the new AFGE,VA master agreement.

Officials from the American Federation of Government Employees and the Veterans Affairs Department today signed a new national collective bargaining agreement covering more than 200,000 bargaining unit employees.

The new master agreement strengthens AFGE’s working relationship and partnership with the VA and enhances working conditions for VA’s employees, leaders said.

“This is a morale booster for our employees. A good contract behind our workers gives them the incentive to do their best work,” AFGE National President John Gage said.

Alma Lee, the president of AFGE’s National VA Council, said the new master agreement will ensure a working environment in which employees can focus on providing world-class service to our nation’s veterans.

“This master agreement is on the cutting edge of technology and incorporates wellness, telework, partnership and many other initiatives designed to make the Department of Veterans Affairs an employer of choice,” Lee said during the signing ceremony at the VA headquarters in Washington.
The new master agreement replaces the previous contract signed in 1997. Highlights of the new contract are provisions that:

• Expand opportunities for VA employees to telework, making it easier to balance work-life issues and improving employee morale.
• Add protections to health care workers who are exposed to on-the-job hazards while treating wounded warriors.
• Provide for a clearer understanding of employee rights and protections under Title 38.
• Call for creating new training program for employees to learn new skills, obtain new certifications and advance in their careers.

Click here to view more photos from the signing ceremony.

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