DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY U.S. ARMY SOLDIER SUPPORT CENTER FORT BENJAMIN HARRISON INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA and LOCAL 1411, 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

U.S. ARMY SOLDIER SUPPORT CENTER

FORT BENJAMIN HARRISON

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA

and 

LOCAL 1411, AMERICAN FEDERATION

OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO

Case No. 90 FSIP 202

 

DECISION AND ORDER

Local 1411, 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 Army, U.S. Army Soldier Support Center, Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indianapolis, Indiana (Employer).

The Panel determined that the case should be resolved through an informal conference by telephone between the parties and Staff Associate Harry E. Jones. If there were no settlement, Mr. Jones was to notify the Panel of the status of the dispute, including the parties' final offers and his recommendations for resolving the matter. Following consideration of this information, the Panel would take whatever action it deemed appropriate to resolve the impasse.

Mr. Jones conducted a telephone conference with the parties on November 21, 1990. During that proceeding, the parties were able to reach agreement on several items, but remain deadlocked over two issues. Mr. Jones has reported to the Panel, and it has now considered the entire record.

BACKGROUND

The Employer's mission is to provide support services to Fort Benjamin Harrison. The Support Center includes divisions responsible for engineering, training, housing, recreation, health care, child care, and other related activities. The bargaining unit consists of approximately 3,400 employees who work in a wide variety of administrative and technical occupations. The parties' collective-bargaining agreement expired in January 1989, but remains in effect until a successor agreement is implemented.

ISSUES AT IMPASSE

The parties are at impasse over the procedure to be followed by the Employer in investigating suspected telephone misuse by employees.(1) The parties also disagree over the collateral issue of whether any written agreement reached as a result of their negotiations should contain wording indicating the Union's participation in the bargaining process.

a. The Union's Position

The Union proposes the following:

The following procedure will be followed when there are indications that an employee may be misusing the Employer telephones:

A. Upon request, the employee shall be provided with a photocopy of the computer printout which documents the alleged misuse. This shall be done, on request, for each instance of alleged abuse.
B. If the Employer suspects abuse, and, therefore, needs to determine the identity of a called number, management shall identify the number through the following methods in descending order:
1. Ask the employee involved or other employees.
2. Inquire through the telephone company.
3. If the number has to be called, it shall be done as a last resort, and all effort shall be expended to avoid embarrassment to the employee involved.
Documents published concerning this Policy Memorandum No. 42 will contain the following paragraph:
Paragraph 1. Labor-Management Relations
The provisions of this policy have been negotiated with AFGE Local 1411, the employees' exclusive representative under] 5 U.S.C. 7101.

The Union argues that investigations of suspected telephone misuse are an invasion of employees' privacy, and, therefore, a uniform procedure is necessary. Its proposed procedure would balance the Employer's need to uncover misuse with employees' constitutional rights. In this regard some employees' privacy may be breached unnecessarily by overzealous supervisors who are too quick to call "suspicious" telephone numbers. The Employer's proposal, on the other hand, may lead to inconsistent treatment of similarly-situated employees as managers may utilize different enforcement methods. Finally, inclusion of wording which recognizes the Union's role in the negotiation of the telephone policy would serve to heighten employees' understanding of the role the Union plays in their affairs.

b. The Employer's Position

The Employer proposes the following:

The following shall be added as Paragraph (g) of Policy Memorandum No. 42:  
an employee, upon request, shall be provided a copy of the Call Detail Report(2) in the event he or she is suspected of potential telephone misuse.

Adoption of its proposal is preferable because it allows management to retain discretion in conducting investigations of suspected telephone misuse. It also would protect employees by requiring management to provide a copy of the Call Detail Report to the employee at his or her request. This would allow the employee access to evidence relied on by the Employer and an opportunity to rebut any accusations of telephone misuse. The Union's proposed procedure, however, would hinder investigations by requiring management to divulge sensitive information to suspected violators. Since the Employer has broad discretion in investigating other types of misconduct, a policy limiting its discretion in this area would be inconsistent. Moreover, there is no demonstrated need for the proposed procedure since supervisors already act with discretion in handling these types of matters. Finally, there is no need for the additional wording proposed by the Union to be included in any agreement concerning telephone policy.

CONCLUSIONS

Having considered the evidence and arguments in this case, we conclude that this dispute should be resolved on the basis of the Employer's proposal. In our view, its adoption should balance the competing interests