ULP Filed over Unilateral Implementation of Drive Cam Program

NTEU has filed an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge against HHS for failing to provide information and bargain prior to implementing a Drive Cam pilot program. On September 15, 2015, the agency provided NTEU notice, in accordance with Article 3 of the CBA, of a proposed Drive Cam pilot program. The program would allow for the installation of cameras in agency vehicles for the purpose of recording the driver’s actions. On December 14, 2015, HHS provided NTEU with a briefing. In the briefing, the agency indicated that some employees may already be participating in the program, but was unable to provide specifics. Immediately after the briefing, NTEU filed a request for information regarding the proposed pilot program, to include a list of all offices and bargaining unit employees currently participating in the program and when the program had been implemented. To date, the agency has not responded with the requested information.

In its ULP charge, NTEU alleges that the agency has unilaterally implemented the Drive Cam pilot program without completing its bargaining obligation. The unilateral actions of HHS have deprived NTEU of its contractual and statutory rights to bargain over this initiative, which has a more than de minimis effect on employees. The failure of HHS to complete its bargaining obligation constitutes an unfair labor practice pursuant to 5 U.S.C. §§7116(a)(1)(5), and (8), and constitutes a repudiation of Article 3 of the CBA.

Additionally, NTEU alleges that HHS has failed to provide a response with regard to the information request filed by NTEU. The Statute, 5 U.S.C. § 7114(b)(4), requires an employer to provide to a union data that is normally maintained by the agency in the regular course of business, and which is reasonably available and necessary for full and proper discussion, understanding, and negotiation of matters within the scope of bargaining. In our view, the agency’s failure to respond to NTEU’s information request constitutes an unfair labor practice in violation of the statute.

NTEU has requested that HHS be ordered to immediately cease and desist from further implementing the Drive Cam initiative until it complies with its contractual and statutory obligations to bargain with NTEU over the change; return the parties to the status quo ante; post a notice to all bargaining unit employees indicating that HHS has violated the Statute; provide a separate written notification to all affected bargaining unit employees stating that HHS violated the law and contract; and any other remedies that are appropriate. 

House Appropriations Subcommittee Approves Agriculture/FDA Funding Bill

The House Subcommittee on Agriculture/FDA Appropriations has approved the appropriations bill for funding the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for fiscal year (FY) 2017. A full committee vote in the House would be the next action.

Under the bill, the FDA would receive a total for salaries and expenses of $2.754 billion in discretionary funding. This is $33 million more than in FY16 and $18 million above the President’s FY17 request. While this is movement in the right direction, it does not come near to providing the resources needed for the important mission of FDA.

Food safety activities (CFSAN) are to receive an additional $36 million, reflecting the concern over food safety. However, I am concerned that the legislation does not provide the funding for rent and other facilities costs that current leases require, which could force FDA management to move funding from other parts of the agency’s budget. NTEU will continue to be a voice for our members at FDA as this process moves forward.