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NIH Labor Partnership Council

Union and management relations just aren't what they used to be — at least at NIH they aren't. Thanks to the NIH Partnership Council, union leaders and NIH management can look at issues or concerns that the organization at large faces, before they become serious problems. And by employing techniques that "loosen" some of the traditional bargaining rules to form a common understanding as to how things can be done to benefit workers and managers alike, collaboration has taken on a new meaning.

Established in 1993, the NIH Partnership Council promotes the objectives set forth in Executive Order 12871, which called for a change in the nature of relationships between labor unions and management. Specifically, the council is charged with identifying issues with agency-wide impact and developing recommendations and/or solutions.

"The council is dedicated to supporting and facilitating the NIH's mission of the pursuit and promotion of beneficial research through the practice of constructive, interest-based bargaining between labor unions and NIH management," says Maria Gorrasi, NIH labor relations specialist. "Council members are encouraged to engage in a free flow of all information that is relevant to the labor issues under consideration. This has helped to foster mutual respect and understanding of all opinions and ideas."

Areas of interest to the group are diverse, from transportation and parking on campus to day care and quality of worklife concerns. The group tackles these concerns as they relate to the entire NIH community. The Clinical Center, in particular, has representation that can bring to the table issues that will potentially affect the whole community.

Union representation at the CC is limited to the nutrition and housekeeping and fabric care departments, who look to this group as a way to bring unions and managers together. "The more that people learn about this organization and the value that it can bring to employees and managers, the more exciting it is," said Alberta Bourn, chief of the nutrition department and alternate CC representative for the council. "The group stands poised to address a broad base of concerns."

The council meets on the first Tuesday of every month. Members and their alternates comprise an equal number of union and management representatives. The four unions represented to date on the council are: American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 2419; Washington Area Metal Trade Council (EAMTC); Local F-271 International Association of Firefighters (IAFF); and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge #1.

Meetings are open to visitors, and a web site will be launched soon. For more information, contact Gorrasi at 594-1461.

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