GAO Employees Will Form Labor Union

Posted September 20, 2007 at 10:16am

Government Accountability Office employees voted to form a labor union Wednesday night in the first such election in GAO’s history.

Now, about 1,800 analysts will be represented on issues such as pay raises and management policies. More than 65 percent of the 1,342 analysts who voted supported forming the union.

“People are excited and delighted,” said Patricia Donahue, a senior analyst who helped begin the union effort. “As soon as they know, it’s electric. That’s the best way to describe it.”

In the next few weeks, analysts will have to put together an executive board and set up their union membership, before diving into negotiations with GAO management for a bargaining agreement. In a statement released Thursday, Comptroller General David Walker promised to “bargain in good faith” and referred to his comments in a video broadcast to employees earlier this month.

In that video, he addressed his decision to restructure the pay system more than a year ago, denying about 300 employees cost-of-living raises. That move has been cited by analysts as the catalyst for the union movement. Walker has said that some employees were overpaid, and that the system simply ensured that raises were tied to performance.

“I realize that not all of you have agreed with some of our changes,” he said, according to a transcript of his comments. “While I may not always agree with certain comments that I have received, I have considered them all in making changes and respect the varied opinions and the individuals and organizations who express them.”

The GAO union will be a member of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, an umbrella organization that includes unions such as the Congressional Research Employees Association. Before Wednesday’s election, GAO management and IFPTE haggled during long negotiations, debating over who should be covered by the union and whether Walker stayed neutral during the campaign. But in recent weeks, Walker has encouraged employees to vote, and IFPTE has focused on the positives of having a union.