U.S. Customs Service and Houston Region, U.S. Customs Service, A/SLMR No. 1135, FLRC No. 78A-160




[ v01 p574 ]
01:0574(66)CA
The decision of the Authority follows:


 1 FLRA No. 66
                                            JUNE 15, 1979
 
 MR. GARY B. LANDSMAN
 ASSISTANT GENERAL COUNSEL
 (LABOR-MANAGEMENT RELATIONS)
 U.S. CUSTOMS SERVICE
 1301 CONSTITUTION AVENUE, N.W.
 ROOM 3305
 WASHINGTON, D.C.  20229
 
                       RE:  U.S. CUSTOMS SERVICE AND HOUSTON REGION,
                            U.S. CUSTOMS SERVICE, A/SLMR No. 1135,
                            FLRC No. 78A-160
 
    DEAR MR. LANDSMAN:
 
    THE AUTHORITY HAS CAREFULLY CONSIDERED YOUR PETITION FOR REVIEW AND
 REQUEST FOR A STAY OF THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY'S DECISION, AND THE
 UNION'S OPPOSITION THERETO, IN THE ABOVE-ENTITLED CASE.
 
    IN THIS CASE, THE NATIONAL TREASURY EMPLOYEES UNION AND NTEU CHAPTER
 143 (THE UNION) FILED AN UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICE COMPLAINT AGAINST THE
 DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY, U.S. CUSTOMS SERVICE (THE AGENCY) AND HOUSTON
 REGION, U.S. CUSTOMS SERVICE (THE ACTIVITY).  THE COMPLAINT ALLEGED, IN
 ESSENCE, THAT THE AGENCY AND ACTIVITY VIOLATED SECTION 19(A)(1) AND (6)
 OF THE ORDER BY IMPROPERLY WITHHOLDING FROM THE UNION MATERIAL AND
 INFORMATION AVAILABLE TO IT DURING THE FORMULATION AND PREPARATION OF
 NOTICES OF PROPOSED SUSPENSION AND/OR DISCIPLINE WHICH WERE ISSUED TO
 CERTAIN EMPLOYEES WHO HAD DESIGNATED THE UNION AS THEIR REPRESENTATIVE
 UPON RECEIPT OF THE NOTICES.
 
    THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY, IN AGREEMENT WITH THE ADMINISTRATIVE LAW
 JUDGE (ALJ), FOUND, INSOFAR AS RELEVANT HEREIN, THE AGENCY "VIOLATED
 (S)ECTION 19(A)(1) AND (6) OF THE ORDER BY WITHHOLDING CERTAIN MATERIAL
 NECESSARY AND RELEVANT TO THE PERFORMANCE OF THE (UNION'S) (S)ECTION
 10(E) DUTIES . . . ." IN SO FINDING, THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY STATED:
 
    THUS, AT THE TIME THE (UNION) ORIGINALLY SOUGHT THE MATERIAL AT ISSUE
 HEREIN, IT INDICATED
 
    THAT IT SOUGHT THE MATERIAL IN ORDER TO "ANSWER THE CHARGES AGAINST
 THE EMPLOYEES IT
 
    REPRESENTED.  THE (UNION) WAS SEEKING INFORMATION WHICH COULD HAVE
 BEEN USED AT THAT STAGE OF
 
    THE PROCEEDINGS TO DETERMINE WHAT APPEALS, IF ANY, MIGHT BE FILED ON
 BEHALF OF THE EMPLOYEES
 
    IT REPRESENTED.  ONE OPTION WOULD HAVE BEEN TO FILE A GRIEVANCE
 PURSUANT TO THE
 
    PARTIES' NEGOTIATED GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE.  IN THIS LATTER REGARD, IT
 IS WELL ESTABLISHED THAT
 
    AN EXCLUSIVE REPRESENTATIVE IS ENTITLED TO INFORMATION NECESSARY AND
 RELEVANT TO DETERMINE
 
    WHETHER OR NOT TO INITIATE A GRIEVANCE . . . .  THUS, BY FAILING TO
 PROVIDE THE NECESSARY AND
 
    RELEVANT MATERIAL WITH WHICH THE (UNION) MIGHT DETERMINE WHETHER TO
 FILE A GRIEVANCE, AND IF
 
    SO, WHICH GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE IT MIGHT INVOKE, I FIND THAT THE
 (AGENCY) VIOLATED (S)ECTION
 
    19(A)(1) AND (6) OF THE ORDER.  (FOOTNOTE OMITTED.)
 
    IN THE AGENCY'S PETITION FOR REVIEW, IT IS ALLEGED THAT THE DECISION
 OF THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY PRESENTS FIVE MAJOR POLICY ISSUES:
 
    (1) "DOES THE AVAILABILITY TO THE UNION OF RECOURSE UNDER THE FREEDOM
 OF INFORMATION ACT
 
    (FOIA) OR THE PRIVACY ACT, OR THE ACTUAL UTILIZATION OF THE
 PROCEDURES UNDER THOSE ACTS IN
 
    PURSUIT OF CERTAIN INFORMATION, TRIGGER THE APPLICATION OF (S)ECTION
 19(D) OF THE EXECUTIVE
 
    ORDER TO THE EXTENT THAT AN UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICE COMPLAINT ALLEGING
 A DENIAL OF THAT SAME
 
    INFORMATION IS BARRED?"
 
    (2) "DOES THE PURSUIT OF THE DENIAL OF INFORMATION AS A SUBSTANTIVE
 ISSUE IN AN AGENCY
 
    DISCIPLINARY GRIEVANCE PROCEEDING TRIGGER (S)ECTION 19(D) OF THE
 ORDER TO THE EXTENT THAT AN
 
    UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICE COMPLAINT ALLEGING DENIAL OF THAT SAME
 INFORMATION TO THE EXCLUSIVE
 
    REPRESENTATIVE IS BARRED?"
 
    (3) "IS IT MANDATORY FOR A COMPLAINANT/UNION IN AN UNFAIR LABOR
 PRACTICE CASE TO PROVE
 
    MATERIALITY AND RELEVANCE WITH REGARD TO INFORMATION WHICH WAS
 ALLEGEDLY DENIED THAT
 
    COMPLAINANT/EXCLUSIVE REPRESENTATIVE AND IS IT FURTHER REQUIRED THAT
 THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY
 
    SPECIFICALLY MAKE SUCH FINDING IN ORDER FOR AN UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICE
 VIOLATION TO BE FOUND?"
 
    (4) "IS A DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDING AGAINST AN INDIVIDUAL EMPLOYEE SO
 FUNDAMENTALLY PERSONAL
 
    THAT THE (U)NION HAS NO INHERENT RIGHT TO REPRESENT THA