Is your contract expired?
Probably not. Most of the agreements (collective bargaining agreements) have provisions for a rollover (usually in the Duration Article). This means that once the original contract period expires the agreement begins an annual rollover. In such cases the contract automatically rolls over (continues) unless either party proposes to renegotiate the agreement. Most agreements also have specific parameters for when either party can propose to renegotiate the agreement. These parameters are usually also contained in the “duration” portion of the agreement. Usually there are specific time frames for opening the agreement and proposing to open the agreement outside of theses time frames violates the agreement. If the employer is telling the union that the agreement is no longer valid or is outdated carefully review the parameters of the agreement. Most likely you will find that the employers allegations are unfounded.
Is your contract outdated? Again, probably not. The Civil Service Act and 5 USC Chapter 71 set the parameters for bargaining in the federal sector. Federal bargaining parameters are severely limited in scope when compared to other sectors. Such items as pay and benefits are for the most part not negotiable. Therefore many of the items negotiated in federal sector agreements are procedural and policy matters or matters regarding appropriate arrangements when the employer is exercising one of their management rights under the Statute and union representational rights provided for by the Statute.
One of the best signs of an effective working contract in the federal sector is an agreement that has been in place many years. Federal policies and procedures rarely change but on occasion there is a need to update some items in an agreement to ensure they reflect current laws. However, renegotiating an agreement simply because it was executed many years ago is not necessary. Agreements should be carefully evaluated to determine if a need exists to renegotiate.