DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY NAVAL SURFACE WARFARE CENTER WHITE OAKS SILVER SPRING, MARYLAND and LOCAL 1, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO

United States of America

BEFORE THE FEDERAL SERVICE IMPASSES PANEL

 

In the Matter of 

DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY 

NAVAL SURFACE WARFARE CENTER 

WHITE OAKS 

SILVER SPRING, MARYLAND 

and  

LOCAL 1, AMERICAN FEDERATION 

OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, 

AFL-CIO 

Case No. 90 FSIP 126

DECISION AND ORDER

Local 1, American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO (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 Navy, Naval Surface Warfare Center, White Oaks, Silver Spring, Maryland (Employer).

The Panel determined that the impasse should be resolved pursuant to written submissions from the parties with the Panel to take whatever action it deemed appropriate to resolve the impasse. Submissions were made pursuant to these procedures and the Panel has considered the entire record.

BACKGROUND

The Employer's primary mission is to research and develop explosive surface weapons. The bargaining unit consists of approximately 650 employees who work in jobs such as explosives technician, engineering technician, and program and budget analyst. This dispute, however, affects only those employees who work in the Employer's physical security office. The parties recently negotiated a successor collective bargaining agreement which was awaiting agency head review at the time of the Panel's initial investigation of this case.

ISSUE AT IMPASSE

The sole issue in dispute is whether smoking should be permitted between the hours of 5 p.m. and 6 a.m. in the offices of the Physical Security Division.

1. The Union's Position

The Union proposes that smoking be permitted in the offices of the Physical Security Division between the hours of 5 p.m. and 6 a.m. The past practice has been to allow smoking "as desired." When a newly-assigned security supervisor recently announced that she intended to prohibit smoking entirely, the Union proposed that smoking continue to be permitted, but only during the 5 p.m. to 6 a.m. time period. Its proposal is reasonable because during this time " normally one man is the only presence in the office[s] n and "the impact on other workers is negligible to nonexistent. n In addition, employees who work during these hours spend only 50 to 60 percent of their duty time in the security offices. A 14,000 BTU air conditioner, which is vented to outside, should ensure that the ill effects of sidestream and second-hand tobacco smoke on nonsmokers are minimal. Finally, the Union believes that the only reason that the supervisor proposed to disallow smoking is her personal dislike of the habit, and her wish to discipline "which she threatens daily.

2. The Employer's Position

The Employer essentially proposes that smoking "not be permitted at any time in the offices of the Physical Security Division." Its proposal is consistent with the activity's instruction providing employees a work environment "reasonably free" of tobacco contaminants. In this regard, the Employer's Safety Division concluded that smoking should not be permitted in the area because the American National Standards Institute's (ANSI) recommended air exchange standards could not be met with the offices' air conditioner and the building's main ventilation system. Moreover, recently announced preliminary findings of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggest that "passive smoke causes