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Guidance on Preferred Scheduling and other Important Changes to the NWS Contract



(October 3, 2022) — Recently, a number of changes have been made to NWSEO’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the union and the National Weather Service (NWS).


The first important change includes an interpretation of Article 20, Section 4. Some managers had begun to interpret this section to mean rotating shift workers must cycle through the same number of swing, mid, and day shifts, rather than considering the needs and preferences of the employees.


Now, the parties agree that a work schedule agreed to by the LOT that involves placing employees on a particular shift or shifts will not be construed as a violation of the third to the last sentence in Article 20, Section 4, which states: “The rotating shift workers will cycle in a reasonably equitable manner through the different tours of duty to which Management originally anticipates assigning those employees.”


Next, the life of our March 2021 CBA has been extended from three (3) years to six (6) years.


Also changed is Article 26, Telework, which is now replaced by the February 24, 2022 COVID-19 Reintegration Plan and Telework Policy Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

In the MOU, the NWS promises to "restructure jobs not currently eligible for telework in a way that would allow incumbents (except those who are legally prohibited) to telework at least on a situational basis” and to "provide increased opportunities for telework above pre- pandemic levels.”


The MOU also states that "telework flexibilities should be considered to the greatest extent that is practicable given needs of operations and in person interactions between team members and with our partners.”


The MOU further provides that, "Schedules including up to, but not exceeding, eight days of telework per pay period may be permissible in appropriate circumstances” and that proposed telework schedules may not be denied based on “mere managerial preference.” The MOU also makes the October 2021 NOAA Telework Implementation Plan applicable to unit employees to the extent consistent with the MOU.


More details of these and other changes are below:


Article 8: Labor-Management Relations

  • A new bullet point has been added to this article to state: Actions of the LOT cannot amend or otherwise alter the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement or National MOUs.

  • A new section has been added to this article to state: Actions of the RLC [Regional Labor Council] cannot amend or otherwise alter the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement or National Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs).


Article 20: Work Schedules of Rotating Shift Workers

  • Language from Article 21 has been pulled to be used in Section K of Article 20, to state: Scheduled overtime: Authorized work, in addition to the basic workweek, which is scheduled prior to the start of the administrative workweek. Night differential pay is authorized for scheduled overtime between the hours of 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

  • Language from Article 21 has been pulled to be used in Section L of Article 20, to state: Unscheduled overtime work means overtime work that is not part of an employee’s regularly scheduled administrative workweek.

  • Both NWS and NWSEO have agreed to a sidebar interpretation of Article 20, Section 4, to mean a work schedule agreed to by the LOT that involves placing employees on a particular shift or shifts will not be construed as a violation of the section.

  • Article 1, Section 9 now correctly refers to Article 20, Section 3, B4, instead of Section 3, B3.


Article 26: Telework

  • This section is superseded by the February 24, 2022 COVID-19 Reintegration Plan and Telework Policy MOU, as well as the April 29, 2022 Addendum which incorporated the October 2021 NOAA Telework Implementation Plan.


Article 31: Employee Awards

  • Section 6.C has been removed because a Unit Citation is not a cash award.


Article 41: Duration and Terms of Agreement

Parties have agreed to extend the terms of the CBA for six years, with the following language:


SECTION 1. This Agreement shall be in full force and effect for a period of six (6) years from its initial effective date of March 16, 2021. It shall be renewed from year-to-year thereafter, unless written notice to terminate the Agreement is served by one Party to the Agreement on the other Party to the Agreement between the 60th day and the 105th day prior to the expiration date.


SECTION 4. At a point thirty-six (36) months after the initial effective date of this Agreement, either Party may reopen up to two (2) Articles. Notice of intent to reopen must be given between the 60th day and the 90th day prior to the thirty-six (36) month anniversary of the effective date of this Agreement. If one (1) Party reopens the contract, the other Party may also choose up to two (2) Articles to reopen. Negotiations will follow the ground rules in Article 8 (Labor Management Relations) of this Agreement.


For all NWSEO CBAs, MOUs, and other documents, go to NWSEO’s document library.

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