In signing their first collective bargaining agreement after seven years of negotiations, the union representing the nation’s more than 200 immigration judges will finally have a voice in their working conditions — conditions that have been “overwhelming” in key ways since the 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, according to their leader.

The National Association of Immigration Judges, representing 218 judges in 53 cities and detention centers nationwide, signed its first agreement with the Department of Justice on Aug. 10, a day after Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced in a meeting with the judges a series of reforms designed to address complaints about the performance of some judges and recent problems with their workload.