DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY INSTALLATION MANAGEMENT AGENCY DIRECTORATE OF EMERGENCY SERVICES HEADQUARTERS, FORT BRAGG GARRISON COMMAND (AIRBORNE) FORT BRAGG, NORTH CAROLINA and LOCAL 1770, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO

United States of America

BEFORE THE FEDERAL SERVICE IMPASSES PANEL

In the Matter of

DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
INSTALLATION MANAGEMENT AGENCY
DIRECTORATE OF EMERGENCY SERVICES
HEADQUARTERS, FORT BRAGG
  GARRISON COMMAND (AIRBORNE)
FORT BRAGG, NORTH CAROLINA

and

LOCAL 1770, AMERICAN FEDERATION
  OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES,
  AFL-CIO

Case No. 06 FSIP 106

DECISION AND ORDER

    The Department of the Army (DA), Installation Management Agency (IMA), Directorate of Emergency Services (DES), Headquarters, Fort Bragg Garrison Command (Airborne), Fort Bragg, North Carolina (Employer), filed a request for assistance with the Federal Service Impasses Panel (Panel) under the Federal Employees Flexible and Compressed Work Schedules Act of 1982 (Act), 5 U.S.C. § 6120 et seq., to resolve an impasse arising from its decision to terminate the 4/10 compressed work schedule (CWS) of three Physical Security Inspectors in the Physical Security Section of the Security/Intelligence Division of DES represented by Local 1770, American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), AFL-CIO (Union).

    After investigation of the request for assistance, the Panel found that the Employer had not met the statutory requirements for cases under the Act.1/ Accordingly, the Panel asserted jurisdiction of the parties’ impasse under the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (Statute), 5 U.S.C. § 7119, and determined that the dispute should be resolved through an informal conference with Panel Member Grace Flores-Hughes. The parties were advised that if no settlement were reached during the informal conference, Member Flores-Hughes would report to the Panel on the status of the dispute, including the parties’ final positions and her recommendations for resolving the impasse. After considering this information, the Panel would take whatever action it deemed appropriate to resolve the impasse, which may include the issuance of a Decision and Order.

    Pursuant to the Panel’s determination, Member Flores-Hughes met with the parties on August 16, 2006, but a voluntary settlement was not reached. The Panel has now considered the entire record, including the parties’ pre- and post-conference submissions, and Member Flores-Hughes’ recommendation for resolving the dispute.

BACKGROUND

    The mission of the IMA, which was created on October 1, 2002, is to manage Army installations to support readiness and mission execution by providing equitable services and facilities, optimizing resources, sustaining the environment and enhancing the well-being of the military community. The DES is the component within the IMA at Fort Bragg with overall responsibility for the safety and security of the Fort Bragg community of over 53,000 soldiers and their families. The Union represents about 3,500 professional and non-professional (General Schedule and Federal Wage System) employees who work at the Headquarters, Fort Bragg Garrison Command, and 13 other tenant commands, located at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The parties’ collective bargaining agreement (CBA) covering these employees was recently renegotiated and is now due to expire on April 27, 2011.

ISSUE AT IMPASSE

    The parties essentially disagree over whether the 4/10 CWS of the three Physical Security Inspectors in the Physical Security Section of the Security/Intelligence Division of DES should be terminated.

POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES

1.  The Employer’s Position

    The Employer proposes "to schedule all physical security inspectors to work five (5) eight hour days." Terminating the current 4/10 CWS is reasonable "in light of the fact that more inspections can be conducted during a 5/8 workweek" and that the Agency failed to conduct 157 inspections during Fiscal Year 2005. The latter occurred, in part, because "some of the Physical Security Specialists were not available to conduct inspections on at least 1 day per week due to their 4/10 work schedule." Without the change, the Physical Security Section is likely to continue to fail to inspect all the required areas. In this regard, two military personnel are no longer available to be temporarily detailed to assist in the inspections, and the number of areas to be inspected will increase "due to a 20 percent growth at Fort Bragg" expected over the next 3 years because of the 2005 Defense Base Closure and Realignment plan.

    The three employees currently on the 4/10 CWS work from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with a 30-minute lunch break. Because the soldiers the employees support have mandatory physical training from 6:30 to 9 a.m., however, the areas to be inspected are not available or opened until 9 a.m. Coupled with the requirement that employees work in teams of two, and routine inspections take approximately 2 hours, 12 separate arms rooms can be inspected when they only work 4 days per week. Under the Employer’s proposal, there would be 15 arms room inspections per week, an increase of 20 percent. In addition, it is "not true" that employees need a 4/10 CWS to have sufficient administrative time to prepare for inspections and write reports. Its proposal would provide them with 10 hours of administrative time per week rather than the current 14. The Employer believes that this is "more than sufficient" to conduct all administrative duties, and that increasing inspections by 20 percent "substantially outweighs the decrease in administrative time." In conclusion, "the status quo clearly has had an adverse impact on the Agency," and its continuation "will increase the probability of physical security breaches, potentially leading to soldiers or family members suffering unnecessarily due to accidental or surreptitious losses of arms, ammunitions or explosives."

2.  The Union’s Position

    The Union proposes that the three Physical Security Inspectors continue to work 4/10 CWS, with each having a different regular day off (RDO), as follows: Chapman – Thursday RDO; Perry – Monday RDO; Faucette – Friday RDO. Just prior to the informal conference, the Employer made changes to the employees’ duties in "an attempt to influence the outcome of the decision to terminate [CWS]" by eliminating the requirement to perform ammunition spot checks (routinely done by inspectors prior to 9 a.m.) and increasing the number of weekly inspections they must accomplish per week from 32 to 49. It also increased the number of training classes they are expected to teach, and informed the Union for the first time that management "had no plans of staffing this department at 100 percent, which is seven inspectors, now or anytime in the future." In its view, these changes undercut the Employer’s original claim that CWS has caused adverse agency impact, and demonstrate that the Employer’s initially defined mission was getting accomplished prior to its request for Panel assistance. In fact, the Employer "has failed to show satisfactorily through any evidence that [CWS] has been a detriment to its missions, its ability to remain highly productive and has shown no increased cost to its budget."

    While the Employer has used the "Training Core Fitness Program," in effect since 1993, as the reason why the affected employees cannot conduct inspections until after 9 a.m., the policy "allows the soldier some flexibility in performing other duties or fulfilling other significant requirements." Nor has it furnished a schedule of physical training of the units for which the inspectors are responsible that shows their unavailability prior to 9 a.m. In essence, the Employer can continue to ensure that its mission is accomplished, however it chooses to define the mission, without having to eliminate 4/10 CWS by making adjustments within its discretion. Finally, the Union’s proposal would continue CWS for these employees, but ensure that no more than one employee would have the same day off, a change in employees’ current schedules that it believes "is imperative."

CONCLUSIONS

    Having carefully considered the evidence and arguments presented by the parties in support of their positions on this issue, we conclude that the Union’s final offer provides the more reasonable basis for resolving the impasse. In our view, the record does not establish that the current 4/10 CWS has had a negative impact on the Employer’s ability to accomplish its mission, or that replacing it with a 5/8 schedule would lead to an appreciable increase in productivity. In particular, there is no evidence of any complaints from customers that the Physical Security Section’s mission is not being met, or that connects lost or stolen weapons, munitions, etc., with the 4/10 CWS. Given the current staffing level, however, the Union’s proposal recognizes that employees should not have the same RDO if the number of inspections is to be maximized. Accordingly, we shall order its adoption.

ORDER