A group of 11,000 nurses from the Department of Veterans Affairs is deadlocked with the agency because of its collective agreement because the Trump administration has refused to sign a contract proposal structured by an external arbitrator and its own ministry negotiators. VA Secretary Robert Wilkie rejected the agreement with the National Nurses Union. An arbitrator appointed by the federal dead-end services body proposed the contract after VA and the union negotiated for more than two years. Most of the provisions of this proposal came directly from these negotiations, while the arbitrator filled the gaps in the remaining areas of divergence. “VA is committed to reaching an agreement that puts veterans and VA recipients first,” Cashour said, “and we will continue to work with the NNU to do just that.” Issues like this are unrelated to direct patient care, Lanham said, so Wilkie has “far exceeded his legal authority.” Wilkie is only legally authorized to terminate an agreement between the union and the department if it contains illegal provisions. The nurses` union will challenge the secretary`s action in an upcoming district court action, while seeking an improvement of certain contractual provisions by the Federal Industrial Relations Agency. Wilkie referred to more than 350 provisions of the proposed contract, referring to sections of the status that prohibit the department from negotiating clinical competencies, allowances or direct issues related to patient care. The nurses` union said its position was not up to date, as 75 per cent of the controversial provisions were accepted under the last collective agreement reached in 2012. Corey Lanham, the union`s VA division chief, said Wilkie had raised concerns with clauses, including planning practices, schedules for employees that should be transferred when accepting new jobs, and the period during which VA will have to correct errors in nurses` paychecks. The union`s challenges are likely to take at least a year to squirm through the Federal Court and the FLRA. In the meantime, the existing trade agreement remains in force. Lanham cited the unprecedented scale of Wilkie`s objections, but said earlier, minor attempts to raise issues from the negotiating table had been rejected by FLRA and the court.