An agreement to provide expanded child care services for Hill Air Force Base workers, under negotiation for more than a decade, has been reached, according to a base spokesman.
The agreement will affect all Air Force Logistics Command employees at bases across the country and has been negotiated by commander Gen. Alfred G. Hansen and union leader Paul D. Palacio, president of the American Federation of Government Employees Council 214.Ogden federation officials said Hill's child care services will be increased under the new agreement after studying if the base's present facility can be expanded.
"Providing quality child care for our civilian employees is a big step in the right direction and will benefit the largest part of our work force," a statement from the base said.
"One thing we are certain about, though, is that we presently offer quality child care on this base and we will not sacrifice that when we do expand our services," the statement concluded.
Union representatives from throughout the command met with Air Force officials Feb. 22 at command headquarters at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
Calling the meeting "unprecedented," union negotiators met with Hansen for two hours and reached a verbal agreement. In addition to expanded child-care facilities, the agreement sets up a joint federation/command child care committee.
Palacio said the agreement is "the result of 10 long years of negotiations. It was definitely a long struggle, but now it looks like increased child care for civilians is going to happen.
"General Hansen has taken a real leadership role in solving some command and (federation) issues," Palacio said. "He has stated he wants a new era of cooperation with the (federation), and we're certainly willing to give it a try. I'm excited about the prospects."
Hansen said the federation is committed to expanding child care services for the command's 83,000 civilian workers. It now provides service for 1,000 children at 16 centers.
"We want to ensure that (federation) people and their children are afforded quality child development opportunities," Hansen said. "This cooperation will help meet our complete child care needs.
"This has been an important issue for our command, and I'm very pleased we were able to work this out in a manner that will best serve not only the Air Force and the (federation), but also our children," Hansen said.
According to Palacio, "This expanded child care is a real plus for our civilian employees. We hope they will, and we encourage them to, use these services once they become available."
Federation negotiators first proposed expanded child care services in 1978. The issue went to arbitration, and in 1980 a ruling directed the command to provide the union with facilities for federation-operated day care centers at each of the command's five logistics centers.
Legal appeals and other actions delayed the implementation of day care until mid-1988, when federal labor relations officials ordered the command to comply with the original arbitration decision.
In the final resolution reached last month, command officials offered to expand existing child care centers as being more cost effective and faster to implement. The additional service will be incorporated into existing services administered by the command's welfare and morale branches.
Command officials said the exact need for child care services varies from base to base, and an assessment will be done to see if existing buildings and facilities can be expanded or new ones built.