DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY U.S. CUSTOMS SERVICE WASHINGTON, D.C. and NATIONAL TREASURY EMPLOYEES UNION



United States of America



BEFORE THE FEDERAL SERVICE IMPASSES PANEL



In the Matter of )

DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY )

U.S. CUSTOMS SERVICE )

WASHINGTON, D.C. )

and ) Case No. 91 FSIP 55

NATIONAL TREASURY EMPLOYEES )

UNION )

)



DECISION AND ORDER



The National Treasury Employees Union (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 between it and the Department of the Treasury, U.S. Customs Service, Washington, D.C.

(Employer).



After investigation of the request for assistance, the Panel directed the parties to meet informally with Chief Legal Advisor Donna M. Di Tullio for the purpose of resolving the issue concerning awards. They were advised that if no settlement were reached, Ms. Di Tullio would report to the Panel on the status of

the dispute, including the parties' final offers, and her recommendations for resolving the issue. After considering this information, the Panel would take whatever action it deemed appropriate to resolve the impasse, including the issuance of a binding decision.



The parties met with Ms. Di Tullio on December 3, 1990, in Washington, D.C., but they were unable to reach a settlement. Ms. Di Tullio has reported to the Panel based on the record developed by the parties, and the Panel now has considered the entire record



BACKGROUND



The Employer's mission is to enforce the U.S. Customs laws through the clearance of overseas passengers and cargo, and monitor

border points of entry to deter and apprehend smugglers and those

entering the country without proper authorization. The Union represents approximately 11,000 employees in a nationwide consolidated bargaining unit; the majority hold positions as customs inspectors. The parties recently negotiated a successor term agreement which they anticipate shall become effective shortly; until then, they are following the terms of their current collective-bargaining agreement (CBA) which was

negotiated in 1987.



The dispute arose when the Employer implemented Operation Short STOP, an intensified multi-agency enforcement operation along the southwest border. The program was implemented on October 29, 1990, for a 3-month period ending January 31, l991. The primary focus was to deter drug smugglers by supplementing existing resources at the border and performing intensified entry examinations.



In order to staff the operation, the Employer solicited

approximately 100 volunteer customs inspectors and canine officers or temporary assignment to Customs districts in San Diego, California; El Paso, Texas; Laredo, Texas; and Nogales, Arizona. When the Employer received insufficient volunteers, it reassigned involuntarily five customs inspectors in accordance with Article 20, section 5, of the parties' CBA. Both parties agree that the involuntary reassignments were conducted properly, pursuant to the terms of the negotiated agreement.



ISSUE AT IMPASSE



The parties disagree over whether employees involuntarily reassigned to Operation Short STOP should be awarded any monetary recognition.



POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES



1. The Union's Position



The Union proposes that all employees involuntarily reassigned to participate in Operation Short STOP should receive a monetary award of $250. An award should be granted to those employees who were directed to undertake dangerous duty, potentially involving armed confrontation with drug smugglers in remote areas, which took them away from their families during the holidays.



Article 20, section 5, of the CBA, which provides a procedure for involuntarily reassigning employees through inverse seniority, does not constitute a waiver of the Union's right to bargain. Rather, the proposal is consistent with the Union's right to bargain over appropriate arrangements for employees adversely affected by the exercise of a management right. The proposal also is consistent with Article 37 of the CBA which acknowledges the Union's right to negotiate over the impact and implementation of a management decision affecting working conditions. Since only five employees were involuntarily reassigned, the cost to the Employer of implementing the proposal would be minimal.



2. The Employer's Position



The Employer opposes granting such monetary awards. Those reassignments were carried out pursuant to the terms of the parties' CBA which do not contemplate additional compensation for those involuntarily reassigned. Moreover, granting awards to those forcibly assigned to the operation would set a bad precedent the next time the Employer solicits volunteers for such duty.



CONCL