AFGE Local 704 Bargaining Contract Ratification

Welcome and Thank You

Local 704 Members will VOTE to decide our position on ratifying the recently negotiated and mediated articles of our Collective Bargaining Agreement from June 3rd through June 7th, 2020.

Your vote will help decide the path to better working conditions and the ability to protect public health and the environment.  The most important right you have as a Union Member is to vote for your Working Conditions!

Be Informed, Get Engaged and Vote

  • Find the topics that are important to you on this website.
  • Look for emails, texts, mailers and phone calls for more information and how to vote.
  • Attend our Local 704 Zoom Town Hall Video Call and Q&A with one of Council 238 Bargainers on Thursday, May 28th at 7pm.  Zoom invite will be emailed to Members.  Send your questions now to be answered at the Town Hall (704afge@gmail.com)
  • From June 3rd – June 7th, Vote online to Ratify, Reject or Abstain the proposed Bargaining Contract.  Voting invitations will be emailed to Members by June 3rd, 2020.

What is our Union Local, Council and National AFGE?

EPA Region 5’s Union is Local 704 and has approximately 430 dues-paying Members, and it represents about 900 Collective Bargaining Employees.  Local 704 joins 12 other EPA Locals to comprise Council 238, which is part of the National AFGE.  Our Collective Bargaining contract is between the EPA Agency and Council 238. 

How did we get here?

Council 238 and the Agency have been operating under a Collective Bargaining Contract agreed upon in 2007, including a few updates for Maxiflex and other matters.  The contract was due for renegotiation and the parties were discussing which articles to renegotiate.  In July 2019, the Agency walked away from the discussions and imposed a Unilateral Management Imposed Directive (UMAD).  The UMAD was a blatant attempt by the EPA Agency Administration to encumber our working conditions and try to bust our Public Union. 

The UMAD imposed unfair conditions on issues such as telework, work schedules, core work hours, Union official time, Union use of Agency resources, topics of grievances, Union dues, awards, promotions, and other conditions.  Council 238 filed a lawsuit and the Agency offered to negotiate and mediate on a limited number of articles in the UMAD if Council 238 drops the lawsuit.  The two sides’ agreed and bargaining teams began negotiating on 15 articles or portions of articles on January 7th, 2020 and ended on March 13th, 2020.  The parties agreed to resolutions on 11 of these articles; the remainder went to mediation, where two were resolved.  The last two articles will now separately be decided by an Impasse Panel. 

The final steps are for each of the 13 Locals to decide if their Local supports, rejects or abstains from voting on the entire article package, and vote at the Council to determine ratification.  If ratified, the contract could go into effect in approximately 30 days.

How will Local 704 and Council 238 vote on ratification?

Both the Local and Council will vote on the ratification package as a whole.  Local 704 Dues-Paying Members will get an email to vote online on June 3rd, 2020.  Voting will last through June 7th with one vote per member email.  The simple majority vote will win, and our Union President will be our delegate at the Council 238 ratification vote.  The Council 238 ratification vote will be on June 10th, 2002.  Each of the 13 Locals will get one vote to determine ratification.

Anyone who would like to become a Local 704 Member should contact 704afge@gmail.com.  This is a great time to get involved. 

What are we voting on?

  • Local 704’s “Summary of Proposed Bargained Contract Articles
  • ” with general improvements, changes and deficiencies.
  • Local 704’s detailed “Crosswalk of Proposed Bargained Contract Articles” comparing Contract Articles from 2007 MCBA, 2019 UMAD and the proposed Contract Articles with full lists of improvements, changes and deficiencies.

    Disclaimer: These documents highlight significant issues Local 704 Special Committee on Ratification were able to summarize from the original contract documents and the ratification materials provided by AFGE Council 238.  We recommend you review the contracts and ratification documents for further detail.  In accordance with the 2019 EPA/AFGE Settlement Agreement, the negotiations, and therefore any potential changes to the 2019 UMAD, were limited to the following contract articles or portions of articles.  All other 2019 UMAD provisions not listed here will remain in the new contract if ratified.

Other Important Documents:

Executive Order Ruling – Call NOW!!!

Today, July 16, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia, overturned a lower court decision that AFGE won rolling back Trump’s three 2018 Memorial Day Executive Orders (EOs.) The EOs gutted your rights in the workplace and your union’s ability to represent you. The Appeals Court reversed the District Court’s August 2018 decision – which had ruled that certain provisions of the orders were in violation of the Federal Labor Relations Statute– and said that the Unions have to challenge the EOs before the Federal Labor Relations Authority before jurisdiction could be had in federal court.

This ruling has come as a shock to AFGE Local 704 and other unions representing EPA federal employees–we’re still reeling from the EO-inspired unilateral management anti-worker directive (UMAD) imposed on July 8.
AFGE has sprung into action and has created a website for you to fight back. Join your union brothers and sisters across the country and call on members of Congress to stand with federal workers and protect our workplace rights. The union-busting framework laid out in the executive orders and the actions already taken with unilateral directives demonstrate clearly that there must be a check on the president’s power to destroy federal employees’ union rights. Call the Capitol switchboard at 202.224.3121, ask to be connected to your Representative or Senator(s) office, and urge them to fight these EOs.

We have no time to be demoralized! See more Ways to Take Action: visit https://www.afge.org/fightback. Read the EO Summary.
See also the 
July/Aug. 2018 – Vol. LXXXVII No. 4 AFGE The Government Standard issue devoted to the 2018 EOs. 

Administrator Wheeler asked to support a fair contract for employees at national environmental awards ceremony

One of our award winning scientists asked Administrator Wheeler if he would negotiate a fair contract with us. “Please support a fair contract for EPA workers.” He refused. What are our achievements worth if he doesn’t recognize our worth as human beings?!


July 8th, Today was tough

Hello AFGE 704 bargaining unit members-

Today was tough! Trump imposed a set of work rules on us that mirror the contract we forwarded to you two weeks ago. We have heard that a number of folks were misled by the description of events in the email circulated by Amy Sanders.

First, these rules are exactly the same rules Trump is imposing on other federal unions all across the nation. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jul/03/social-security-agency-union-contract-trump-administration The rules were first proposed in Executive Orders. AFGE got a court to overturn the rules because they are illegal. Now, Trump is unilaterally imposing them in contracts. It would not have helped to have negotiated a contact earlier. NTEU’s current contact dates from 2015. It is expiring- and this fall, NTEU is facing the same contract terms we are. By giving us 2 weeks notice of the work rules, the Trump Administration pressured us to agree to them. If we agreed to them, there would be no fight. Trump was willing to take a few days to see if he could get these rules for free. But the union, with your help, will fight the rules until we get them overturned. Management’s description of events was a sorry attempt at blaming the union for the rules that Trump imposed upon you. We are confident that everyone has seen enough of this Administration in action not to fall for that.

Please come to the Thursday July 11th – Lunch/E-Dues Sign-Up, Room 330, 12-1:00pm, plus General Questions answered.

The rally on Monday, July 8th was a big hit. (see banner image with with Scabby the Rat) If you follow our twitter account @704afge, you can get minute by minute information. Please spread the word and let all employees know they must give us their email addresses so we can keep everyone informed of all developments as they move forward.

Any questions should be sent to 704afge@gmail.com.



AFGE Local 704 Statement on EPA’s July 8, 2019 “contract”

Chicago EPA workers, under attack, demand end to Trump union busting tactics

Rep. Davis, Rep. Schakowsky, labor leaders, environmental advocates stand with EPA employees

As the Trump administration announced it was unilaterally imposing a draconian new contract on the union representing EPA employees in the Midwest, the American Federation of Government Employees Local 704, spoke out on Monday. Standing in a press conference at Federal Plaza in Chicago along with Rep. Danny K. Davis, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, other local labor union leaders and environmental advocacy groups, the union demanded an end to the Trump administration’s union busting tactics that aim to undermine the union and the EPA employees’ ability to effectively do their jobs.

“Today, President Trump has issued a new ‘management directive’ unilaterally to drastically slash workplace rights and alter EPA staff’s daily lives and schedules,” said AFGE Local 704 President Nicole Cantello. “His approach is cowardly, illegal, and harmful to public health.”

AFGE Local 704 pledged to fight the contract in court. The union has already filed an unfair labor practice with the Federal Labor Relations Authority, and a grievance of the parties under the previous contract, which will be decided by an arbitrator appointed by the Federal Conciliation and Mediation Service.

Rep. Davis said President Trump has “waged a war against organized labor.”

“He has waged a war against environmental protection. He has attempted, and is continuing, to roll back the progress we have made through years and years of struggle,” said Rep. Davis.

Rep. Schakowsky called the move “an attack on science.”

“This president has never believed in science. When you go after the Environmental Protection Agency, which he has from day one, you are challenging science at a moment when we know that it is an existential threat from global warming that we need to address,” said Rep. Schakowsky. “We have had a middle class in the United States of America because of organized labor. They brought to us a middle class, and we will not see a rejuvenation of the middle class in the United States unless we honor working people and the contracts that they sign.”

“Today, the Trump administration has reached a new low in their efforts to undermine the dedicated professionals who carry out vital, day-to-day operations of government. The Illinois Environmental Council stands with EPA staff who go to work each day to ensure safe drinking water, protect clean air and clean up toxic sites. We see this illegal management directive for exactly what it is – another systemic attack on our environment, open lands and public health,” said Colleen Smith, legislative director of the Illinois Environmental Council. “The Trump administration has proven time and again that they are desperate to carry out a pro-pollution agenda that pays favors to Donald Trump’s political allies at all costs, even when our air, water and way of life are in the balance. By making the work of federal EPA employees more difficult, the Trump administration can further obstruct environmental protection and enforcement, paving the way for even more greedy polluting projects at a time when we absolutely must be investing in clean energy.”

“The work these AFGE members do each and every day touches all our lives. This attack by the Trump Administration on civil servants and unions is destroying the livelihood of the people who protect our air, water and soil,” said Don Villar, Secretary-Treasurer of the Chicago Federation of Labor. “Without rights from a bargained contract, without AFGE Local 704, EPA scientists and field agents have limited recourse or resource to defend against an increasingly coercive and intimidating anti-worker administration. For the safety of our environment and the people it supports, the Trump Administration must drop their anti-worker attacks and bargain in good faith with the hardworking men and women of AFGE and the EPA.”

“The Trump administration has declared war on the people who protect our environment. The administration has also declared a war on workers, and we won’t stand for it,” said Dorothy James, National Vice President of AFGE District 7, which represents federal employees in Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. “We say no to illegal edicts, and yes to collective bargaining agreements.”