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The new CBA between SSA and AALJ provides for Telework. SSA implemented this Article without approval by the ALJ's who are members of AALJ.
AALJ filed a grievance.
The implementation by SSA of the new article violates the Administrative Procedures Act, and the Telework Act.
After implementation by SSA, the agency sought to change the protocol by which ALJ's work at home. In order to permit judges an opportunity to participate in telework under the new protocol, AALJ proposed that judges be given until May , 2014 to elect telework. This was refused by SSA.
The latest policy is discussed in this email:
From: Bice, Debra HQ ODAR
Sent: Monday, September 15, 2014 1:26 PM
Under Article 15 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, if all other conditions of eligibility are met, Judges may telework up to eight (8) calendar days of their own choosing per month from among the days left after hearings have been scheduled. Further, additional days may be worked with the approval of the HOCALJ, but generally no more than 50 percent of the Judges in an office may telework on any given day.
This summer Judge Allen and I have had the opportunity to talk with many Judges during office visits and Judicial Training. Regarding telework, we heard from some of you that, prior to the implementation of the new Article 15 provisions, you had a routine of teleworking two days each week and this helped you effectively manage your docket. HOCALJs and RCALJs indicated the same. Judge Allen and I truly appreciate and value your feedback. Therefore, after hearing from both management and line Judges, I informed HOCALJs that if additional telework days would assist a Judge in effectively managing his or her docket that it would be appropriate to approve up to two (2) additional telework days in a month. Judges wishing to take advantage of this flexibility should submit a request for additional days to their HOCALJ within the next two weeks. However, scheduled hearings may not be cancelled, postponed or rescheduled in order to accommodate additional telework days.
At the same time, there are seemingly few circumstances where it would be appropriate to allow more than 50 percent of Judges to telework on a particular day. It is incumbent upon the Agency to provide the best public service, including maximizing use of the hearing rooms in every office, every day. To that end, I encourage you to work together when selecting telework days so that hearings are scheduled on all days of the week.
Judge Allen and I appreciate your hard work and dedication. I am hopeful that this increased flexibility will better assist you in fulfilling your commitment to public service and the issuance of timely, quality, and policy compliant hearings and decisions. As always, I welcome your questions and comments.