Quality of civilian worklife tops discussion at annual union meeting

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio — During an annual joint national labor management meeting on Sept. 1, Air Force Materiel Command leaders and union officials came together to discuss quality of worklife for the command’s civilian workforce. 

For the first time as AFMC commander, Gen. Ellen M. Pawlikowski joined J. David Cox, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, and other command and union officials to discuss workforce issues and their expectations of the labor management partnership for the upcoming year.

“When I was told about this annual event, I thought it was a great idea to have an opportunity to dialogue on strategic issues,” Pawlikowski said. “As I have visited the command, I have been impressed by the cooperative working relationships between management and the union, both focusing on common objectives. I am very encouraged at what I have seen so far and I hope this meeting and others will continue to build on that relationship so we can meet any challenges together.” 

The briefings started with the Partnership Council’s annual report provided by council co-chairs Michael Gill, AFMC executive director, and Troy Tingey, AFGE Council 214 president, who represents AFGE locals at AFMC bases. 

Gill and Tingey provided updates to action items noted from the 2014 meeting. One suggestion was to include more union involvement with reviewing suicides for the command. As a result, the union will be given the opportunity to provide meaningful input on possible factors contributing to suicides.

Debra Warner, Air Force Director of Civilian Force Management, Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower, Personnel and Services, provided an update to a new Department of Defense Civilian Performance Management and Appraisal Program. A major goal of the Performance Management Program is to drive consistency throughout DoD so that affected employees moving between components will continue to be covered by the same performance management rules. The program will focus on fostering cultural and attitudinal changes regarding performance management.

The projected implementation for the program is April 2017. 

Cox provided the AFGE national update and said workforce planning for the future is going to be a greater issue.

“We are going to face tougher times, and being able to have a strong labor and management quorum partnership working together certainly makes AFMC stronger to resolve problems and deal with many issues. I encourage you to keep having the dialogue and keep doing the work,” said Cox.

“We will continue to fight the battles for increased funding for federal government and agencies, for federal employees’ pay as well as fighting back any attempts to change the retirement system or the health system,” he continued. “I believe we need to over and over tell our story of the great things that go on in all government agencies and how well we serve the American people.” 

Pawlikowski closed the meeting by providing her way-ahead for AFMC. 

“One of my top priorities is the civilian workforce. We have taken a 36 percent reduction in AFMC over the last three years and that is huge. We have to do a better job communicating to the Air Force and our congressional members the contribution of our civilian workforce,” she said. “The success of this command very much relies on the entire workforce, and the workforce in this command has a large percentage of civilian representation. This is a community I have grown up in, and I am very comfortable with that, and I very much appreciate the role of the civilian workforce. Council 214 is a critical part of our success.” 

The Partnership Council was formed in 1999 as a collaborative approach to attain workplace efficiencies, improve quality of worklife, provide early union involvement and resolve issues. 

Annual Joint National Labor/Management meetings were then initiated in 2000 to review progress.The council is co-chaired by the AFMC executive director and the AFGE Council 214 president and meets three times a year.

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