Contract Negotiations News Update
President's Memo

May 8, 2006

Dear Colleagues,

The HHS-NTEU contract talks began today. As you already know, FDA and seven other Operating Divisions (Op Divs) will be covered by one consolidated contract when these talks are completed.

It’s too soon to report anything except that this is going to be a difficult set of negotiations. Everything is up for grabs. This is also the first time FDA headquarters and field negotiators have had to work with representatives from other HHS Operating Divisions. There’s a different culture at each Op Div so it will take more time and patience as we learn about each Op Div’s problems. Then we will propose joint alternatives and negotiate with HHS management.

The “lunch and learns” that were held around the Beltway during the past two months brought members’ concerns and ideas to the forefront. Many of the proposals that our National Negotiator, Barbara Sheehy, put together were drawn from member comments and recommendations. On behalf of the Chapter, let me thank the officers and stewards who worked so hard to pull these important meetings together.

Many members wrote, faxed or telephoned about the “Notice to Employees from the Federal Labor Relations Authority,” which was posted at each FDA work site. The matter under discussion is whether a joint request by National NTEU and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to consolidate the seven operating divisions under one contract should proceed. If anyone is interested in expressing his/her views about the consolidated contract, you may write, fax or telephone the San Francisco Office of the Federal Labor Relations Authority with your comments and observations. In any event, FDA and the other HHS Operating Divisions will continue to negotiate this contract. NTEU Counsel informs me that in the event that the consolidation is disapproved by the FLRA, we would wind up with the same contract we eventually negotiate with each Operating Division having its own “cover”, but being covered by the exact same contract language.

One thing each member can do to make a positive statement about our workplace rights: EACH ONE, REACH ONE and sign up a new member. Our Chapter is going to reward those who sign up members with 2 movie passes for each member you recruit. You will power our chapter by expanding its membership . . . and you will have the opportunity to enjoy your favorite movie this spring and summer.

After contract negotiations are completed, Chapter 282 will hold a chapter meeting to inform everyone about the contract before we are asked to vote to ratify or not ratify the final document. EACH MEMBER IS ELIGIBLE TO VOTE on the contract. ONLY MEMBERS may vote in this important election.

The hour is late so I will close this letter now. I am optimistic about the ultimate contract document but it is early in the adventure and there are miles to go before we sleep (with apologies to Robert Frost). We are in good hands at NTEU and the negotiating team is hearty and resourceful. Your prayers and good wishes are appreciated.


Bernice Friedlander
NTEU Chapter 282