DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY LETTERKENNY ARMY DEPOT CHAMBERSBURG, PENNSYLVANIA and LOCAL 1442, 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 THE ARMY
LOCAL 1442, NATIONAL
Case No. 05 FSIP 102
DECISION AND ORDER
Local 1442, National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE), Federal District 1, IAMAW, AFL-CIO (Union), filed a 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, between it and the Department of the Army, Letterkenny Army Depot, Chambersburg Pennsylvania (Employer).
After investigation of the request for assistance, which involves a dispute over procedures for issuing On-The-Spot Awards,1/ the Panel determined that the parties should submit to the Panel their final offers and supporting statements of position, including rebuttals, if any. 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, written statements of position and rebuttals. The Panel has now considered the entire record.
The Employer's mission is to overhaul and refurbish tactical missiles and wheeled vehicles for the armed services. The Union represents a bargaining unit consisting of approximately 300 non-professional General Schedule employees. Typical bargaining-unit positions are supply technician, information technology specialist, production controller, engineering technician, equipment specialist, management and budget analyst, and a variety of clerical positions. The parties' most recent collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was implemented in 1992, for an initial term of 3 years; it has been extended and remains in full force and effect. In addition to the bargaining unit represented by the Union, there are three other bargaining units on the Depot represented by the International Association of Firefighters; the International Brotherhood of Police Officers; and NFFE Local 1429. These three labor organizations are part of a partnership council that remains active. The Union does not participate in the partnership council, preferring the more traditional approach to labor-management relations.
In 1994, the Employer replaced individual performance-based and incentive awards at Letterkenny with annual monetary awards issued to all employees in the event that the Depot meets its yearly production goals, referred to as Net-Operating-Result Awards. The award amounts are the same regardless of an employee's position or grade level, but they are granted only to those whose performance is at least at the satisfactory level. The dispute herein arose when the Employer decided that, in addition to Net-Operating-Result Awards, it would provide employees with the opportunity to receive On-the-Spot Awards. During partnership meetings between the Employer and the other three labor organizations at the Depot, a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was executed which provides procedures for implementing AR 672-20 with respect to On-the-Spot Awards. The Employer offered the same agreement to the Union; it was rejected, however, and the Union turned to the Panel for assistance.
Essentially, the parties disagree over the procedures for implementing On-the-Spot Awards. Central to their dispute is whether the Union should be required to participate on an awards panel that makes recommendations to management on award nominations for employees, including those outside the bargaining unit it represents.
POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES
a. The Employer's Position
The Employer proposes that, in addition to the Net-Operating-Result Awards, employees be eligible to receive On-the-Spot Awards; annually, a budget of $100,000 would be allocated for On-the-Spot Awards, with award amounts to range from $50 to $500, in accordance with AR 672-20. On a quarterly basis, supervisors would submit nominations that would be due on the last day of a quarter. On the 15th day of the next quarter, the Director would submit the nominations to the awards committee with all personal identifiers redacted from each nomination. The awards committee would consist of the Deputy Director and one of the four local Union presidents who would rotate membership quarterly.2/ The awards committee would meet on the 20th day of the quarter to recommend approval/disapproval of the award and the award amount to the Commander; tie votes would be broken by the Deputy Commander. By the 35th day of the quarter, the Commander or designee would approve the On-the-Spot Award recommendation, and the employee issued an SF-50, Notification of Personnel Action that would be filed in the employee's Official Personnel Folder. Lastly, the Commander would publicly recognize the award recipients at the next quarterly Length of Service ceremony.
Its proposal would implement the same agreement the Employer has reached with the three other labor organizations representing employees at Letterkenny. Thus, a consistent On-the-Spot Awards policy would be applied to all bargaining-unit employees on the Depot. The other labor organizations that have agreed to the awards procedure support the use of a committee or panel to consider award nominations because it would help ensure that employees receive awards based on merit and fairness. The awards panel would not approve the award, but recommend action on a supervisor's nomination to the Commander; the Union, therefore, would not have the responsibility of actually approving an award. Having an awards panel weigh in on award nominations should diminish complaints that otherwise could emerge from the awards process. Awards panel members would be making an objective evaluation of an anonymous award package and, therefore, the Union would not be in the position of representing any particular bargaining-unit member. Finally, the Employer's authorization of official time for a Union representative to participate on the awards panel appears consistent with the provisions of the Statute.
b. The Union's Position
The Union proposes that "(t)he Agency  implement, approve/disapprove, and process the On-the-Spot cash awards expeditiously in accordance with  AR 672-20 for the NFFE Local 1442's bargaining-unit employees." On-the-Spot Awards should not involve a cumbersome approval process. Its proposal would allow employees to receive their cash awards quicker than under the Employer's process, as intended by the regulation, and remains true to the "on-the-spot" concept for which the award is named. In fact, the procedure proposed by the Employer "does not comply with" various sections of AR 672-20, the parties' CBA, or the Statute, and would not "add fairness, equity or consistency to the approval process, or curtail favoritism." In addition, there is no need for Union participation in the approval process; if the Union is removed from the awards panel, the potential of conflicts of interest for the Union would not arise.3/