ARTICLE 37

REDUCTION-IN-FORCE (RIF) AND FURLOUGHS OF MORE THAN 30 DAYS

The parties agree that RIF results in disruption to the productivity of the workplace, lowers overall Employee morale and should be used as a last resort. Before deciding to implement a RIF or a Furlough of more than thirty (30) days, the Employer agrees to investigate the feasibility of early-out retirement and buyout authority, attrition, freezing promotions, and other means of reducing expenditures.

The provisions of this Article apply when the Employer makes a decision to conduct a RIF, based on reorganization, transfer of function, position abolishment which causes a RIF, or the introduction of a technological change which results in a loss of pay for any bargaining unit member.

1. The Employer agrees to notify the Union of its decision to conduct a RIF or to use RIF procedures to furlough Employees for more than thirty (30) days as far in advance of the notification of affected Employees as possible, but no less than thirty (30) days prior to the issuance of specific RIF notices. The notification to the Union will include at a minimum:

a) The number of positions affected

b) The proposed effective date

c) The reason(s) for the RIF or Furlough

2. The Employer will consider the retention of career Employees as a high priority in decisions regarding potential and actual RIFs or Furloughs.

3. The Employer will comply with all applicable laws, rules, regulations, and negotiated procedures when conducting a RIF or applying RIF procedures to other situations as required.

4. The ground rules for conducting a RIF or applying RIF procedures are as follows:

a) ADVANCE NOTICE. The Employer will issue an Advance Notice of Reduction-In-Force to all Employees if the decision to conduct a RIF or a Furlough of more than thirty (30) days is made at least 120 days prior to the effective date of any resulting personnel actions and enough information about the RIF is available to do so. The Advance Notice will provide employees with all of the relevant information available at the time of the notice and will inform employees of any known arrangements which are made or planned to assist them during the RIF process such as the availability of the Employee Assistance Program, additional resource referrals, etc. The Union will be provided a copy of the general notice prior to its issuance to Employees.

b) LENGTH OF NOTICE PERIOD. The minimum notice period for the Specific Notice to individual Employees will be sixty (60) days. The content of Specific Notices will conform to applicable law, rules and regulations. Each Employee will be provided two copies of his/her specific RIF notice. The additional copy may be provided to the Employee's Union representative at the Employee's discretion.

c) RESPONSE TIME. The response period for an employee who receives a Specific Notice of RIF action (excluding separation notices) to accept or decline the assignment offered will be ten (10) calendar days from the date the Employee receives Specific Notice.

d) USE OF FACILITIES AND OFFICIAL TIME. With supervisory approval, an Employee may use a reasonable amount of duty time, official equipment, supplies (except related to postage) and facilities to pursue employment opportunities inside or outside the USGS such as:

(1) prepare resumes or applications for Federal Employment.

(2) attend seminars on retirement planning, career transition assistance, financial planning, etc.

(3) attend job fairs, interviews, or register at the local unemployment office, etc.

e) TIEBREAKERS. When two or more Employees are tied in retention standing, and there must be an established non-subjective method for determining which Employee receives an assignment right, length of service in the National Mapping Division will be used to break the ties.

f) ASSIGNMENT RIGHTS FOR OTHER THAN PERMANENT EMPLOYEES.

(1) Term Employees are limited to first round competition and, if released from their competitive level, will have no bump or retreat rights and will be separated no later than the RIF effective date.

(2) The Employer, in consultation with the Union, will determine the continuing need for excepted service positions separate from the conduct of the RIF. Any positions determined to be expendable will be abolished and the Employees will have no retention rights as part of the RIF, and will be separated no later than the RIF effective date.

(3) Temporary Employees will be terminated no later than the RIF effective date.

(4) Re-employed annuitants will be separated no later than the RIF effective date.

g) USE OF VACANCIES FOR ASSIGNMENT RIGHTS. Vacant positions will not be used to satisfy an Employee's assignment rights as part of the RIF. However, the Employer, to the fullest extent possible, agrees to offer priority consideration to Employees who would otherwise be separated as a result of the RIF.

(1) The separated Employee must meet the minimum qualifications for the vacant position to include any special skills, or selective factors which would normally be used when advertising the position through the Merit Promotion Program.

(2) If two (2) Employees are equally qualified, retention provisions of RIF regulations will apply.

h) CUT OFF DATE FOR PERFORMANCE APPRAISALS AND OTHER DISCRETIONARY ACTIONS. The Employer, in consultation with the Union, will establish a date that is no more than 180 calendar days and no less than 120 calendar days from the date of specific RIF notices, after which no performance appraisals or requests for other discretionary personnel actions, such as revision of position description, promotion, reassignment, etc. will be accepted. This cut off date will be applied across the board without exception which will ensure that all Employees are treated equally.

i) EMPLOYEE REVIEW OF RECORD. Once it has been announced that RIF procedures will be used, Employees will have two (2) weeks (14 calendar days) period within which to review and update their personnel records such as their qualification statement (Former SF-171), records of training, awards, etc., by providing copies to the servicing personnel office of new or updated materials. Employees may have a reasonable amount of duty time for this purpose, but must obtain supervisory approval for the specific time(s) they will be away from their work site.

j) EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE. The Employer will provide assistance to Employees adversely affected by a RIF or Furlough to the fullest extent allowable by law and within available resources to include retraining programs, job fairs, coordination with other Federal agencies to obtain maximum consideration for employment opportunities, arrange for classes on such topics as resume preparation, retirement planning and decision making, financial planning, understanding their RIF rights, severance pay calculations, remployment and career transition programs.

5. OTHER RIF ISSUES. The Parties recognize that RIF/furlough/transfer of function rules and regulations are subject to ongoing change. In the event that these changes occur during the life of this Agreement and vitally affect previously negotiated provisions, the Parties recognize that additional negotiations may be necessary and desirable.

6. MOCK RIF. The Union has proposed that the Employer conduct a mock RIF prior to the conduct of an actual RIF. The Parties agree to defer this issue to the time at which the actual RIF is to be conducted. The Parties agree that should the Employer decide to conduct a mock RIF, the Union will receive advance notification.

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