DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE ONIZUKA AIR FORCE BASE SUNNYVALE, CALIFORNIA and LOCAL 2090, NATIONAL FEDERATION OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES

United States of America

BEFORE THE FEDERAL SERVICE IMPASSES PANEL

 

In the Matter of

DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE

ONIZUKA AIR FORCE BASE

SUNNYVALE, CALIFORNIA

and

LOCAL 2090, NATIONAL

FEDERATION OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES

Case No. 90 FSIP 121

 

DECISION AND ORDER

Local 2090, National Federation of Federal Employees (Union), filed a request for assistance with the Federal Service Impasses Panel (Panel) to consider a negotiation impasse under section 7119 of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (Statute) between it and the Department of the Air Force, Onizuka Air Force Base, Sunnyvale, California (Employer).

After investigation of the request for assistance, the Panel directed the parties to meet informally with Panel Chairman Roy M. Brewer for the purpose of resolving the issue at impasse. The parties were advised that if no settlement were reached, Mr. Brewer was to notify the Panel of the status of the dispute, including the parties' final offers and his recommendations for resolving the matter. After considering this information, the Panel would take whatever action it deemed appropriate to resolve the impasse.

Mr. Brewer met with the parties on May 24, 1990, but the impasse was not resolved. Accordingly, he reported to the Panel based on the record developed by the parties. The Panel has now considered the entire record, including his recommendations for settlement.

BACKGROUND

The mission of the Employer is to control a worldwide satellite tracking network for the Department of Defense, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. allies. The bargaining unit consists of approximately 160 employees, but this dispute involves only the 21 Wage Grade employees who work at the facility's power plant. The plant, the facility's sole source of power, is operated around the clock by three shifts of employees. The parties' collective bargaining agreement expires on February 24, 1991.

ISSUE AT IMPASSE

The sole issue in dispute is whether time clocks should be installed in the power plant.

1. The Employer's Position

The Employer proposes that it be permitted to install time clocks in the power plant to rectify problems which have arisen in the documentation of time and attendance. In this regard, the parties recently have retained an arbitrator to decide the issue of whether the Employer owes certain power plant employees backpay for alleged preshift and postshift overtime work. The Employer "has been unable to resolve these doubtful claims expeditiously" because of the lack of clear evidence of what hours each claimant has actually worked. While it has issued a new instruction addressing this "ambiguous overtime situation," the installation of time clocks is essential to guarantee that the timekeeping documentation problem does not recur. Hence, time clocks would ensure that: (1) the instruction is adhered to when supervisors are not present to enforce it; (2) shifts and lunch breaks begin and end in a timely manner; and (3) accurate records of authorized periods of overtime are kept. Moreover, "time clocks are commonly found in industrial settings throughout the United States" because they enable employers to adhere to Federal pay standards.

2. The Union's Position

The Union opposes the installation of time clocks, viewing the Employer's attempts in this regard as "punishment" for its filing of the backpay claim. In fact, since the claim was filed management has "continuously harassed" employees regarding numerous working conditions. While it is true "to some extent" that the installation of time clocks would help power plant employees if future claims concerning overtime arise, negotiations over the Employer's new instruction have eliminated the underlying cause of the backpay claim, shift changeover, so similar disputes are unlikely to occur. Thus, there is no need for time clocks, and the Employer's attempt to install them reveals that its real concern is micromanagement and scrutinizing the employees in the power plant.

CONCLUSIONS

Having considered the evidence and arguments in this case, we conclude that the Employer's proposal should be adopted to resolve this dispute. The record indicates that the parties recently reached an agreement on a scheduling system which should eliminate their previous difficulties with overlapping shifts. The agreement, however, requires that utility operators be physically relieved on the hour, and, further, that shift leaders have the authority to order overtime. Thus, there are apt to be times when overtime occurs for which the Employer legally is bound to make payment. Accordingly, we are persuaded by the Employer's arguments that time clocks are warranted to establish its precise liability when the payment of overtime is required. We also note that the use of time clocks is not uncommon in such settings and, for these reasons, sh