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Ibidun Roberts: Oh yes. The VA is therefore seeking a ten-year contract. We are looking for the traditional three-year contract. There are many reasons for this. One of them is that other unions can challenge our certification after three years, but changes are happening as well. And if these changes happen, we want to be able to open the agreements and accept those changes. And this is especially true for the VA, which has had a number of changes. For example, the Accountability Act is an important change that we want to include in the agreement. Another is President Trump`s executive orders, if we had a 10-year agreement, we would not be able to get changes, like the ones I just mentioned.

A shorter term is better than a 10-year term. Ibidun Roberts: Yes, we are negotiating to come back, we do not think that the expulsion of the union by the VA was legal. Even under the executive, it was not legal. The executive itself therefore says not to provide free or enhanced space for unions if it is not generally available to non-federal organizations, and here at the VA, that is the case. VA allows non-federal organizations to use free space. We have several examples of them in our rebuttal, such as the organization of the go nurses and the direction of the VA, they all got free space. So there would have been no change in our space, even under executive orders. And we really felt the consequences if we are removed from the institutions, the workers do not have access to the union. And now, during the pandemic, it`s even worse, employees have been looking for unions to find their rights, how they can file complaints with OSHA, to find out what`s free for them, because we just passed laws, like FFCRA, that employees didn`t know what they were doing, and the union wasn`t there to talk to them. Then the VA became even more extreme than the executive and prevented the union from using even VA emails.

This in turn limits how employees can contact the union if we can`t even use government email to reach employees. We do not think it is legal, and in the treaty we try to get it back. Tom Temin: Okay, and before I go into some of those details, I mentioned about a quarter of a million, I think there are 270,000 employees on the National Council goes to AFGE. Is there an agreement for everyone in the Council? Ibidun Roberts: Well, the current agreement is what we call rushed, once the VA has opened it, our language in the Treaty says that the provisions will continue until we reach a new agreement.