AWS Win Could Help Other FDA Employees

Some employees are ideal candidates for alternative work schedules (AWS).

NTEU recently went to bat for one such employee who was denied a compressed work schedule.

As a Consumer Safety Officer for nearly nine years at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the employee—a member of Chapter 290 (FDA New York/New Jersey)—conducts investigations of animal tissue at farms in upstate New York.

In May 2016, the employee asked for a 4/10 compressed schedule. This NTEU-negotiated schedule option allows employees to work four, 10-hour days each week and have an extra day off. The flexibility would not only help with work-life balance, but also allow the employee to do more than one inspection a day at nearby locations and then draft her reports. She plans her inspection schedule nearly a year in advance and offered to adjust it whenever necessary to meet her workload.

Two days later, the employee’s request was denied.

NTEU took the case to arbitration and won. The union backed its case with testimony from a Supervisor Consumer Safety Officer and other Consumer Safety Officers who maintained that working an AWS has never caused issues or drawn management concerns.

“The arbitrator’s decision confirmed that management was ignoring the contract and past practices from successful FDA investigators in other parts of the country,” said Chapter 290 President Russell Glapion. “This win would not have been possible without the support of dues-paying NTEU members. We are pleased by the outcome because it clarifies the contract provision for other bargaining unit employees who may need or want to work an AWS.”

New York was previously the only FDA region where no Consumer Safety Officers were on alternative work schedules. NTEU’s win changed this and will hopefully encourage more officers to apply for AWS—and more supervisors to approve those schedules. But if management resists, NTEU is ready to step in.