EPA union: Next contract in ‘serious trouble’

By Kevin Bogardus | 03/20/2024 01:35 PM EDT

The agency’s largest union is worried employee protections could be under threat in a potential second Trump administration.

AFGE union members react during a rally demanding that the Environmental Protection Agency address a staffing shortage outside EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C., Feb. 15, 2023. (Francis Chung/POLITICO via AP Images)

AFGE union members react during a rally outside EPA headquarters in Washington on Feb. 15, 2023. Francis Chung/POLITICO

EPA’s biggest union is warning the agency that bargaining over its next agreement has been placed in jeopardy.

American Federation of Government Employees Council 238, which represents over 9,000 EPA employees, is pushing the agency to relent on its position regarding the duration of the future contract, according to a letter sent Tuesday to Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe. At issue is whether that next deal will remain in effect while both sides bargain to reach a new one after it expires years from now.

Discord over negotiations between EPA and AFGE comes as the union looks to lock down protections for staffers at the agency before their current agreement expires in months. This next contract is vital too, considering it will last beyond this year’s presidential election and could help safeguard EPA employees during a potential second Trump administration, given the first was tumultuous for the agency.


“The Agency is insisting that the AFGE agree to a contract that can simply be ended by one party, a stance that is reminiscent of the previous administration,” Marie Owens Powell, president of AFGE Council 238, and Joyce Howell, the council’s lead negotiator, said in the letter.