DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY NAVAL AVIATION DEPOT NAVAL AIR STATION ALAMEDA, CALIFORNIA and LOCAL 1, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF AERONAUTICAL EXAMINERS

United States of America

BEFORE THE FEDERAL SERVICE IMPASSES PANEL

 

In the Matter of

DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY

DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY

NAVAL AVIATION DEPOT

NAVAL AIR STATION

ALAMEDA, CALIFORNIA

and

LOCAL 1, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION

OF AERONAUTICAL EXAMINERS

Case No. 90 FSIP 137

 

DECISION AND ORDER

 

Local 1, National Association of Aeronautical Examiners (NAAE or 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 Aviation Depot, Naval Air Station, Alameda, California (Employer).

After investigation of the request for assistance, the Panel determined that the impasse should be resolved through written submissions from the parties, with the Panel to take whatever action it deemed appropriate to resolve the impasse. Written submissions were made pursuant to these procedures and the Panel has now considered the entire record.(1)

BACKGROUND

The Employer's mission is to overhaul aircraft for the Navy and Air Force. The work involves rebuilding of engines and other components and is done under contract with various Naval Commands and Air Force installations. The Union represents approximately 87 aeronautical examiners who evaluate the aircraft upon arrival and oversee the repair process to completion. The instant impasse arose as a result of negotiations over a successor collective-bargaining agreement. The parties' previous agreement expired on August 28, 1989, but remains in effect until a successor agreement is implemented.

ISSUES AT IMPASSE

The issues are: (1) recording of time and attendance; (2) the method of tracking time for billing purposes; (3) official time for Union representatives; and (4) telephone service for the Union president.

1. Recording of Time and Attendance

    a. The Union's Position

The parties' current agreement is silent with respect to the recording of time and attendance. The practice, however, has been that each employee manually completes a biweekly time and attendance report which is then approved by the employee's supervisor. The Union proposes that this practice be eliminated and that attendance be accounted for on a daily basis by the section head. According to the Union, relieving employees of this mundane task would allow them to devote their time to more productive endeavors. The Union points out that bargaining-unit employees are dedicated professionals and that many of them feel that recording time and attendance is demeaning. The Union also notes that members of other NAAE locals are not required to record their time and attendance.

    b. The Employer's Position

The Employer alleges that this proposal is nonnegotiable because it is inconsistent with management's right to assign work under section 7106(a)(2)(B) of the Statute. In this regard, the Employer argues that the Union's proposal would require the Employer to assign the task of recording time and attendance to a specific management employee. The Employer notes that the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) has held, in prior cases, that proposals substantively identical to the Union's proposal are nonnegotiable. On the merits, the Employer argues that the current system is necessary for payroll purposes and to ensure proper credit and charges to employee leave accounts.

 

2. Method of Tracking Time for Billing Purposes

    a. The Union's Position

The current agreement is also silent with respect to the subject of tracking time for billing purposes. The practice, however, is that employees must keep track of the time spent on each job through the use of "Source Data Automation Equipment (SDAE) transaction recorders." The equipment records each employee's entrance on duty (starting time) as well as the amount of time spent on each job throughout the day. The Union proposes (1) that supervisors, rather than employees, be responsible for tracking time, and (2) that workload accountability be reported on a "bulk load" basis rather than at the completion of each job. What this means is that the supervisor would enter into the computer system the amount of time spent by each employee on individual "job numbers" (as opposed to individual jobs); this, according to the Union, could be done either on a daily or weekly basis. It is the Union's position that by relieving bargaining-unit employees of this task, they would have more time available to spend on their regular job duties. The Union also points out that other shops at the facility operate under a bulk-load tracking system and that examiners ought to be treated in the same manner.

    b. The Employer's Position

The Employer alleges that this proposal is nonnegotiable because it is inconsistent with management's right to assign work under section 7106(a)(2)(B) of the Statute. In this regard, the Employer argues that the Union's proposal would require the Employer to assign the task of tracking time to a specific management employee. The Employer notes that the FLRA has held, in prior cases, that proposals substantively identical to the Union's proposal are nonnegotiable. On the merits, the Employer asserts that the current system is necessary to charge customers accurately for the labor expended on each job. According to the Employer, the bulk load system proposed by the Union would result in some customers being either undercharged or overcharged for services rendered.

 

3. Official Time for Union Representatives

    a. The Union's P Position

The parties have agreed to retain a provision from their existing agreement which allows Union representatives a "reasonable amount" of time to perform representational duties. That agreement also provides each Union representative with up to 1 hour of official time per meeting (a total of 100 hours per year for all Union representatives) for the express purpose of either preparing agendas for scheduled meetings or considering management proposals. The Union proposes that this latter amount be increased to 200 hours per year. The Union argues that since the new agreement will provide for three additional Union representatives (for a total of six) there is an increased need for this type of official time.

    b. The Employer's Position

The Employer argues that there is no demonstrated need for an increase and proposes that the status quo be maintained. In this regard, the Employer notes that the new agreement will contain wording from the existing contract which allows Union officers a "reasonable amount" of official time to perform representational duties. According to the Employer, the Union, under that agreement, used very little of the 100 hours of official time allotted to it on an annual basis for agenda preparation and proposal review.

 

4. Telephone Service for the Union President

    a. The Union's Position

The Union proposes that its president have access to a telephone with long-distance and "AUTOVON" capabilities, and that the Employer pay for basic phone service as well as any calls made on the "AUTOVON network. According to the Union, the president has a need for a telephone with outside-line capability to conduct Union business. Moreover, because a number of the individuals with whom the president regularly communicates prefer to be contacted through "AUTOVON," it would be to the Union's benefit to have access to this network. Finally, the Union argues that since another union at the facility has an Employer-provided telephone, it (NAAE) should receive equal treatment.

    b. The Employer's Position

While the Employer is willing to provide a telephone with outside-line capability, the Union would be responsible for all costs associated with its use and maintenance. The Employer argues that there is no demonstrated need for either outside-line or "AUTOVON" capability since all bargaining-unit employees, Union officials, and management personnel are located within the same facility. The Employer acknowledges that it has provided another union at the facility with a telephone with outside-line capability, but points out that it is much larger than NAAE and, therefore, has a greater need for the service.

CONCLUSIONS

In addressing the Employer's nonnegotiability argument raised with respect to the first two issues, the Panel is guided by the FLRA's decision in Commander. Carswell Air Force Base, Texas and American Federation of Government Employees Local 1364, 31 FLRA 620 (1988). In that case, the FLRA concluded that the Panel may apply existing case law to resolve an impasse where a duty-to-bargain issue arises. In this regard, the FLRA has consistently held that proposals which would require an agency to designate a specific management employee to perform certain functions are nonnegotiable.(2) The FLRA has also "advised," however, that defects of this type can be readily cured by removing any reference to a particular management employee.(3) Because the Panel, in the circumstances of this case, may in its discretion order the adoption of either modified versions of the Union's proposals which cure such defects without changing their basic content, or other appropriate solutions to the workplace problem identified, we see no purpose in delaying the resolution of this dispute by declining to retain jurisdiction. Accordingly, the Panel will address each of these issues on their respective merits.

Having considered the evidence and arguments on the merits of the respective positions, we shall order the Union to withdraw its proposals on: (1) the recording of time and attendance and (2) the method of tracking time for billing purposes. In our view, the Union has failed to demonstrate a need to change the current practice which requires bargaining-unit employees to perform both of these functions. In this regard, we are persuaded that any time savings and enhanced productivity of individual employees which would occur under its proposals are likely to be minimal. The current method of recording time and attendance appears to be working adequately, as is the current time tracking system. While the bulk load system proposed by the Union may reduce the amount of time spent on the task of charging customers for services rendered, bulk loading is, by its very nature, a less accurate billing system. Although the Union has noted that other groups of employees at the facility are not required to perform either of these functions, we believe that under the circumstances of this case, no change is warranted. Finding no basis for adopting the Union's proposals, we shall order that the status quo be maintained.

Turning now to the issue of official time for preparing agendas and considering management proposals, we are not convinced that the Union has demonstrated a need to increase this amount of time from the 100-hour-per-year figure contained in the current contract. The record indicates that the parties have agreed to roll over wording which provides Union officers and representatives a "reasonable amount" of official time to perform representational duties. Moreover, the record also indicates that only a small amount of this "special" official time has been used during the term of the current contract. Although the new agreement will provide for an increase in the number of Union representatives, this alone is not a sufficient basis for an increase in this type of official time. We are of the opinion, therefore, that the status quo ought to be maintained; accordingly, we shall order the adoption of the Employer's position.

Finally, with respect to the matter of telephone service for the Union president, in our view, neither side's proposal provides an adequate resolution. The Union's proposal requiring a telephone with "AUTOVON capability is not justified, given that all of the bargaining-unit employees, Union officials, and management personnel are located at the same facility. The Employer's proposal requiring the Union to pay all costs associated with the telephone appears unfair, given that another local union at the facility has been provided with telephone service. Consequently, we feel that the following compromise position would reasonably balance the equities on this issue: The Employer should provide the Union president with a telephone at his or her desk with outside-line capability for use in conducting Association business; the phone charges above the basic rate, however, are to be paid by the Union. This would provide the Union with a service it believes is necessary to conduct its business and should facilitate the effective conduct of labor-management relations. By the Union to bear the costs of its own long-distance calls, the compromise should remove any "policing" problem which may occur if the Union is provided with "AUTOVON" capability. Accordingly, we shall order that the above position be adopted by the parties to resolve the impasse over this issue.

ORDER

Pursuant to the authority vested in it by section 7119 of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute and because of the failure of the parties to resolve their dispute during the course of proceedings instituted pursuant to section 2471.6(a)(2) of the Panel's regulations, the Federal Service Impasses Panel under section 2471.11(a) of its regulations hereby orders the following:

1. Recording of Time and Attendance

The Union shall withdraw its proposal.

2. Method of Tracking Time for Billing Purposes

The Union shall withdraw its proposal.

3. Official Time for Union Representatives

The parties shall adopt the Employer's position.

4. Telephone Service for the Union President

The parties shall adopt the following wording:

The Employer shall provide the Union president with a telephone at his or her desk which will have outside-line capability to be used for Association matters. Telephone charges above the basic rate will be paid by the Association.

By direction of the Panel.

Linda A. Lafferty

Executive Director

October 25, 1990

Washington, D.C.

1. The parties were permitted to submit supplemental briefs in addition to initial statements of position and rebuttals. It should be noted that in its supplemental brief, the Employer raised new allegations of nonnegotiability with respect to wording that had been containe