MOU on ORA Program Alignment and Laboratory Optimization

Change brings opportunityNTEU and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have executed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding the Program Alignment and Laboratory Optimization initiatives, which will centralize the Office of Regulatory Affairs’ (ORA) structure and specialize laboratory functions across the agency.

Prior to reaching agreement, NTEU representatives provided months of pre-decisional input to the agency before entering formal negotiations, which lasted for nearly one year. Throughout the entire process, NTEU’s primary objective was to protect employees from the potential negative impact of the agency’s initiatives, while expanding workplace opportunities and flexibilities. We believe that this MOU achieves those goals.

NTEU won many significant employee benefits in the MOU, including:

  • Temporary Travel Exemptions from domestic and foreign travel assignments for employees who are unable to travel due to significant or unplanned life events.
  • The creation of a national Qualified Traveler’s List that will be maintained and available to all ORA travelers.
  • A requirement for ORA to maximize telework opportunities for employees and to promote telework through quarterly communications ORA-wide.

In addition, the MOU requires the parties to begin developing a Bridge Program for employees who would like to change programs at some point in their career. The parties will begin negotiating the terms of the Bridge Program within 90 days.

To address issues and concerns related to the implementation of Program Alignment and Laboratory Optimization, the MOU requires ORA to continue to engage with NTEU through quarterly meetings.

Please take time to review the MOU. The agency will begin holding formal meetings to discuss the MOU within 30 days. We will ensure that NTEU is represented at these meetings.

I would like to thank my fellow members in NTEU’s national bargaining team — Jennifer Harling (NTEU National Negotiator), Cheryl Monroe (Chapter 230), Mike Theodorakis (Chapter 282), and Russell Glapion (Chapter 290) — for their hard work and persistence in negotiating this matter. We could not have reached such a strong agreement without their valuable insight and perspective.

I would also like to thank all of you who contacted me directly or through our stewards to provide feedback on this subject.