Broadly speaking, Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) are written agreements which describe the common agreement between two or more parties on a topic or issue. Often these documents are used to recognize an agreement which isn’t legally binding, but is “informally” established as a consensus view, sometimes with obligations or responsibilities documented or defined. MOUs are generally simpler and more flexible than contracts and are usually easier to obtain authorization by both parties- especially for the fact that they are more easily negotiated, changed, or updated. Often they apply to one specific topic, condition, or aspect of larger agreements or contracts. They are often used to help document special policies, procedures, practices, actions, or conditions resulting from special circumstances (such as a public health crisis, government disruption, or extreme event).
In the MGEC contract, a MOU is specifically referred to in the section on layoffs (Article 13, Section 4. Council Coordination). The role of the MOU is explained somewhat further from the State’s perspective: Labor Relations Issues
MOUs most often arise from the need to deviate or amend contract language related to unusual negotiation and contracting situations (such as government shut-downs, extended contract negotiation, insurance, legislation, or other policy actions). MOUs are effective in situations where all parties agree and share a common goal and outcome of the document.