Minutes of June 16, 2010 Meeting
of the Department of Commerce and Labor Forum
On June 16, 2010, the Department of Commerce Labor-Management Forum met in the Secretary’s Conference Room, Herbert Hoover Building, Washington, DC. The meeting started at 1:30 p.m. and concluded at 3:30 p.m. See attached for a list of attendees.
The members adopted the minutes for the May 19, 2010, meeting with the recommendation that the meetings set forth action items agreed to by the Forum.
A member raised a question concerning entitlement to official time for observers and alternates. Management promised to examine the charter and provide an answer to the individual and his human resources office by the end of the week. There was a preliminary sense that as an alternate, the individual was entitled to official time. [Section 20 of the charter would permit
alternates and one observer from each of the bargaining units not having a seat at the table to be entitled to official time.]
The members heard a presentation by Christine Heflin on the Department’s new Performance Excellence initiative. The initiative is intended to encourage and equip Bureaus to address obstacles to efficiency and to improving service to both internal and external customers. This is done through teams at the Bureau level working with DOC employees trained as facilitators. In the state of Washington, the process involved quarterly nominations for awards and public recognition of the awardees by then Governor Locke.
One Forum member expressed concern that the Performance Excellence will drain the Forum’s energy. While the Forum will monitor this concern, many of the projects addressed by the initiative may not be the subject of labor-management interaction that is the focus of the Forum.
The Innovation Working Group discussed its recent discussions. The Working Group approved the proposed pilots on improving travel guidelines and video conferencing for consideration by the Forum. The Working Group did not approve the NOS IT proposal because the management representatives were concerned about the prospect of having Bureau IT policy imposed by impasse procedures.
The Working Group did not approve the proposed telework pilot but the Forum had a lengthy discussion about it. Union members felt the Forum should continue to move forward in addressing security issues related to telework. They believe that consideration should not be tabled pending resolution of H.R. 1722, concerning telework that is pending in the House of Representatives because it would not be helpful and passage was uncertain.
The Labor Co-Chair reported on the efforts of the Travel Subgroup. They suggested that there should be a travel pilot program using the National Weather Service as a venue for the pilot. A question was raised as to the future of the Travel Subgroup if a pilot program is created. It was suggested that the Travel Subgroup continue to function to develop metrics that could be applied on a Department-wide basis.
The Co-Chairs indicated that the working groups would continue to meet over the summer at least once a month and report to the Co-Chairs on their status. The Co-Chairs will report out to the members.
The Management Co-Chair tasked the Census management representative to work with her labor counterparts on identifying problems and potential solutions to expanding telework in the Bureau of the Census and to report to the Forum on the critical issues.
The Co-Chairs will continue their monthly phone discussions
The labor representative from the Census requested that the Forum consider recognition of councils beneath the level of union recognition at the Census Bureau. The Forum took no action on this matter.