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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) -Claiming fraud, waste and abuse of funds, the employees union at the Dallas VA Medical Center sent a letter to Washington this week asking leaders there to step in. The complaint came in the middle of a new local contract negotiation, in which the union said negotiators hired by the VA are stopping progress.
Union leaders said VA administrators have traditionally been part of negotiations. This time though, the VA confirmed it hired a third party for more than $120,000. A second executive was brought in at a cost of at least $52,000. Both contracts were recently extended while negotiations continue.
Union vice-president Gerald Goodwin wrote in a letter to VA secretary Robert McDonald that the money could be spent on three physicians, seven nurses or 10 social workers. The VA said Thursday the spending would not affect any medical appropriations.
Documents obtained by the union note that VA leaders felt negotiations would be “arduous and potentially lengthy” with a union it described as “uniquely active.”
Goodwin said hiring outside help for the work, was a sign the two sides would have difficulty ironing out their issues.
“They have employees who have been long term employees, long term managers, who should have the skills, or possess the skills necessary to negotiate a local supplemental agreement,” he said.
The VA countered by saying no employee could spent two weeks a month negotiating, and contractors keep them from pulling patient care staff away.
It also filed a complaint with the Federal Labor Relations Authority, that Goodwin and others tried to obstruct negotiations, by failing to meet, negotiating over dates of meetings, and limiting meeting locations.
Goodwin said it was likely the union would bring in its own third party soon, adding more costs to the process.
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