NTEU Chapter 254 Settlement Agreement with ORA Southwest Region

I am pleased to announce that we settled an institutional grievance where ORA Southwest Region management agreed to rescind an order for regional employees to report in writing all their accomplishments on a weekly basis.

Regional management originally ordered daily accomplishment reports for teleworking employees. After the Union informally reminded regional management that the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 requires employers to treat teleworking and non-teleworking employees the same, regional management rescinded the daily accomplishment report order and replaced it with the weekly accomplishment report mandate for every regional employee. These weekly accomplishment reports were troublesome because regional management failed to notify the Union of this change in working conditions and refused to bargain with the Union upon request. Although Title 5 of the United States Code, Section 7106, grants management the right to assign work, it also gives the Union the right to bargain over impact and implementation on changes in working conditions. As part of the settlement, regional management also agreed not to use the reports previously submitted against employees in any disciplinary, performance, or personnel action.

This settlement also rectified an email, sent by a regional manager, that interfered in the relationship between the Union and bargaining unit employees. The regional manager will retract the offending email, admitting it was inappropriate, by Friday.

I thank those of you who brought this issue to my attention, those of you who shared documentation related to this case, those of you who spoke with us, those of you who agreed to testify on this case, and every one of you who make this happen by being members and paying dues, the Union’s primary source of income.

Thank you!

Article 3 Notice of ORA Laboratory Optimization

On March 15, 2016, FDA provided formal notice to NTEU regarding a plan to implement a laboratory optimization initiative in the Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA). According to the notice, the purpose of the initiative is to reorganize laboratory functions in order to create distinct “specialized” laboratories and programs across ORA. This reorganization will align the Office of Regulatory Science (ORS) to the Office of the Associate Commissioner of Regulatory Affairs (OACRA), and further aligns all ORA laboratories to ORS in order to provide a centralized managerial structure. Although laboratory employees will remain in the same scientific discipline (e.g., Microbiologist, Biologist, Chemist, and Engineer), they will be required to specialize their work, going from “generalists” to “specialists” within a designated program area.

The agency contends that this laboratory optimization initiative will have minimal impact on employees; however, based on the fact that employees will be required to specialize in a program area, NTEU believes that the initiative will impact the work that laboratory employees perform on a daily basis.

The proposed ORA Laboratory Optimization is part of the proposed FDA/ORA Program Realignment that I wrote to you about earlier this month. NTEU has been briefed on the Program Realignment and has requested a briefing and to bargain over the proposed laboratory optimization initiative as well.

NTEU will use the same bargaining team already appointed for the FDA/ORA Program Realignment and will bargain the two initiatives together. The bargaining team includes Chapter Presidents Cheryl Monroe (Chapter 230), David Arvelo (Chapter 254), Mike Theodorakis (Chapter 282), Russell Glapion (Chapter 290), and Joe Teixeira (Chapter 288) as alternate.

I welcome and encourage your comments and questions on this issue.

Tornado and Severe Weather Safety

Most of the states in our chapter are known for tornadoes during the spring. The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center also notes that, “tornadoes can occur at any time during the year and at any place in the United States.” It is important that employees understand the basic elements of tornado safety.

Map of the U.S.A. showing Tornado Alley and the meterological causes of it (cold dry air on the northwest, warm moist air on the southeast, warm dry air on the southwest, and the jet stream).
Tornado Alley

Continue reading “Tornado and Severe Weather Safety”