U.S. Federal Labor Relations Authority

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Collaboration and Alternative Dispute Resolution Office (CADRO)

What we do

Since 1996, CADRO has created value for the American public by helping federal agencies and labor organizations improve mission performance, quality of work life, and institutional workplace relationships.

CADRO is the Collaboration and Alternative Dispute Resolution Office at the Federal Labor Relations Authority.

CADRO dispute resolution services offer FLRA parties informal, voluntary, and confidential ways to successfully resolve negotiability disputes and arbitration exceptions pending before the Authority.  CADRO is also available to help FLRA parties resolve representation petitions and pre-complaint unfair labor practice (ULP) charges.  In addition, members of the CADRO staff serve as ULP Settlement Officials for the Settlement Judge Program in the FLRA’s Office of Administrative Law Judges. When appropriate, FLRA parties can use CADRO to address related collective bargaining matters and other labor-management disputes.

CADRO training and facilitation services help agency and union representatives -

  • Prevent conflict from erupting into destructive disputes,
  • Constructively manage conflict that is not preventable, and
  • Develop and maintain effective problem-solving relationships that minimize the need for third-party intervention.

CADRO designs and delivers custom training programs to help agencies and unions jointly implement labor-management forums, pre-decisional involvement, interest-based bargaining, appreciation of diverse working styles, and better communication and listening skills. The two-person CADRO staff has more than 30 years of experience mediating complex, sensitive, labor-management matters and more than 20 years of experience doing so online. Importantly, CADRO staff knows when to offer virtual services and when to encourage parties to meet in-person. Long before the pandemic struck, the current CADRO director began developing and using online technology with labor-management parties while serving as FMCS Director of Mediation Technology Services. He continued developing online expertise as the National Mediation Board’s Counsel for Dispute Resolution Technology. CADRO can host almost any labor-management matter on its secure Teams platform or use your platform of choice.


Negotiability Petitions. Federal-sector labor organizations can file a negotiability petition with the FLRA to challenge an agency head's disapproval of negotiated contract language or to challenge an agency's claim that the labor organization's proposals are outside the duty to bargain. See the Authority's Guide to Negotiability. At any point after the union files its negotiability petition, either party can voluntarily seek CADRO assistance to resolve their negotiability dispute and related bargaining-obligation disputes.

The CADRO team helps parties identify the legal and pragmatic issues in each case, assess what might result from litigation, explore options, and usually helps the parties resolve the case in a mutually agreeable manner. During a recent multi-year snapshot, about 90% of parties to negotiability cases elected to use CADRO’s mediation services and resolved about 95% of over 700 negotiability issues. CADRO normally is quicker, less costly, and less risky than litigation. At the election of the parties, they can go beyond the legal questions and discover solutions to the underlying problems that litigation often cannot solve.

Arbitration Exceptions. Federal agencies and labor organizations can appeal arbitration awards to the FLRA on specific, narrow grounds. These appeals are called "exceptions." See the Authority's Guide to Arbitration.  At almost any point during the exceptions process, the parties can voluntarily agree to seek CADRO mediation assistance to resolve the exceptions. CADRO offers assistance in appropriate cases.


Members of the CADRO staff serve as settlement officials for cases in which parties elect to utilize the FLRA's Settlement Judge Program.

Whenever the FLRA Office of General Counsel (OGC) issues a ULP complaint, representatives of the OGC, the Charging Party, or the Respondent can ask the FLRA Chief Judge to assign a settlement official to help resolve the case. The settlement official schedules a settlement conference with the parties, usually within weeks of when the request is received. During the settlement conference, the settlement official helps the parties explore ways to reach a negotiated resolution to the case. For this reason, a representative for each party must participate in the settlement conference and a representative with full settlement authority for each party must be (virtually) present or immediately available to the party representative who participates in the settlement conference.

The settlement official does not discuss any aspect of the case with the assigned hearing Judge or anyone else inside or outside of FLRA. Section 2423.25(d) of the Authority’s Regulations describes the Settlement Judge Program and provides that no evidence regarding statements, conduct, offers of settlement, and concessions of the parties made in proceedings before the settlement official are admissible in any proceeding before the OALJ or the Authority, except by stipulation of the parties.

Parties need not wait for OGC to issue a ULP complaint before requesting assistance from the Settlement Judge Program or CADRO. Use the contact information at the bottom of this webpage to request assistance.

Since 2021, parties that use the Settlement Judge Program have settled more than 95% of their ULP cases. For more information, review the Settlement Judge Program page on the FLRA website, the frequently asked questions page, and the  FLRA Chief Judge’s Standing Order for Settlement Judge Program.


Some of CADRO’s most important work is to help labor and management representatives improve the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to grow healthy workplace relationships, prevent workplace problems from interfering with mission and quality of work life, and solve problems without third-party intervention.

Most CADRO training programs are designed specifically for each training event. Samples of CADRO training sessions include:

  • Constructive Labor-Management Engagement
  • Traditional and Integrative Bargaining (sometimes called interest-based bargaining or IBB)
  • Interest-Based Problem Solving (IBPS) in the Workplace
  • Pre-Decisional Involvement (PDI), Forums, and Partnership
  • Labor-Management Relations (LMR) Assessment and Action Planning
  • LMR Repair & Improvement
  • Workplace Leadership and Engagement
  • Active Listening and Other Essential Communication Skills
  • Dispute System Design for Workplace Disputes

Other types of training are conducted by other FLRA offices and are available on the FLRA's website and YouTube channel. For more information, see the FLRA website Training Page.


Some of the most effective groups rely on a facilitator—a highly skilled process expert with no stake in the outcome—to manage group process and help participants accomplish their goals.

A facilitator offers structure, helps participants develop process agreements and rules of engagement, and helps the group remain focused and productive. As needed, the facilitator manages discussion, group dynamics, conflict, communication, problem solving, and decision-making processes. An effective facilitator always allows participants to determine content and control outcome.

When appropriate and as time permits, CADRO offers facilitation services when jointly requested by agency and labor organization representatives, including for:

  • Labor-Management leadership groups like labor-management forums and partnership councils
  • Pre-decisional involvement
  • Problem solving & decision-making sessions
  • Collective bargaining
  • Ad hoc sessions

Contact information

Contact the CADRO staff at CADRO@flra.gov, ULPSO@flra.gov, or (771) 444-5802.