D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles is not willing to change his mind about changing up the flexible work schedules lawyers for the city enjoyed for years.
Nickles, responding to a union grievance, said his decision to amend the Alternative Work Schedule policy did not violate the collective bargaining agreement or city law. Click here for a copy of Nickles' response.
Last month, Nickles amended a longstanding policy that allowed District lawyers to work extra hours in exchange for a shorter work week. City lawyers used to take off Mondays and Fridays but now days off must be scheduled between Tuesdays and Thurdays. No more than 20 percent of the workforce—about 1 in 5 lawyers—can be off at any one time.
Nickles told the union that the policy change is supposed to cut costs and to foster “speedy access” to District lawyers. “I exercised an exclusive management right to direct the tour of duty for OAG employees, which management has not waived,” Nickles said in a letter to the union president, Steven Anderson, this month.
Anderson said in a letter to Nickles last month that management did not inform attorneys of performance issues. “In fact, we understand that managers have mentioned to line attorneys that workforce morale and productivity have increased as a result of the existing policy,” Anderson wrote to Nickles.
About 75 percent of the 180 attorneys at the OAG participate in the program, Anderson said. He said the flexible work schedule policy has been a recruitment tool.
The lawyers' union made an agreement with management to give up its 2010 cost of living increase—4 percent under the contract. The union, Anderson said, also gave up the right to bonuses and to be paid for work on holidays and weekends. Nickles noted the concessions in his letter to the union.
“I appreciate the union’s recent concessions to avoid a reduction in force and look forward to your further assistance as OAG maintains efficiencies while performing additional work during very difficult financial times,” Nickles said in the letter.