DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE RISK MANAGEMENT AGENCY KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI and LOCAL 858, NATIONAL FEDERATION OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES, FEDERAL DISTRICT 1, IAMAW, AFL-CIO
United States of America
BEFORE THE FEDERAL SERVICE IMPASSES PANEL
|In the Matter of
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
LOCAL 858, NATIONAL FEDERATION OF
Case No. 05 FSIP 13
DECISION AND ORDER
The Department of Agriculture, Risk Management Agency, Kansas City, Missouri (Employer) and Local 858, National Federation of Federal Employees, Federal District 1, IAMAW, AFL-CIO (Union), filed a joint request for assistance with the Federal Service Impasses Panel (Panel) to consider a negotiation impasse under the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (Statute), 5 U.S.C. § 7119.
Following investigation of the request for assistance, the Panel determined that the dispute, which arises from bargaining over a pilot Telework Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), should be resolved through single written submissions. The parties also were advised that, after considering the entire record, the Panel would resolve the dispute by taking whatever action it deems appropriate, which could include the issuance of a binding decision. In accordance with the Panel's procedural determination, the parties submitted their final offers and written statements of position on December 8, 2004. The Panel has now considered the entire record.
The Employer, a corporation under a Government charter, is essentially a re-insurance company that coordinates with private sector companies to insure crops and other commodities produced on farms. Under its plans, farmers are able to purchase insurance that covers either production or revenue. Local 858 represents a stand-alone bargaining unit of 120 employees who work as risk management and crop insurance specialists, actuaries, underwriters, statisticians, accountants, information technologists, and clerks, at grades GS-6 through -14. The parties' collective bargaining agreement (CBA) has rolled over automatically every year for the last decade.
ISSUE AT IMPASSE
The parties basically disagree over what the extent of the Union's involvement should be in determining the employees and positions permitted to participate in the Telework Program.1/
POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES
1. The Union's Position
The Union's proposal is as follows:
Section 3 - RMA Telework Program Requirements, subsection B - Eligible Positions: The Supervisor and the Union identify position eligible for Teleworking using criteria below.2/ Section 4 - Responsibilities, subsection B - Supervisors and the Union: Supervisors shall meet with Union representatives to confer about the evaluation of positions on their area of responsibility. [Only the highlighted wording is in dispute.]
Its proposed wording would require the Union's substantive participation at the point that a supervisor is determining which positions and employees are eligible to participate in the Teleworking program. This would ensure that supervisors treat employees occupying like positions and performing like duties similarly, and ultimately that the program is administered fairly. Given that participation criteria are already contained in the Telework MOU, such joint evaluations are conducted merely to apply the agreed-upon criteria. In this regard, the "criteria for eligibility [are] so sweeping that virtually every task meets [them]." If the Employer believes "a supervisor can introduce different criteria to override the agreed to clerical procedure," it is operating under a "misconception," because only the listed criteria constitute justifications for excluding an employee.
As to precedent for the role of Union representatives under its proposal, the parties' agreement on medical flexiplace, dated September 28, 2000, calls for joint, case-by-case review of employee applications. In like manner, the parties' CBA "stresses cooperative effort" between the Union and management. The reference in the Employer's proposal to "input from the Union," on the other hand, would not foster comparable teamwork. Finally, the Union's proposed wording in subsection 4B gives supervisors clear guidance that a Union representative's involvement in decisions on telework participation should take place at a meeting, not just through a brief conversation during a chance hallway encounter.
2. The Employer's Position
The following is proposed by the Employer:
Section 3 - RMA Telework Program Requirements, subsection B - Eligible Positions: The Supervisor with input from the Union identifies positions eligible for Teleworking using criteria below.
Section 4 - Responsibilities, subsection B - Supervisors and the Union: Supervisors with input from the Union shall evaluate positions in their area of responsibility. [Only the highlighted wording is in dispute.]
Although each supervisor who evaluates employees' eligibility should conside