National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Fisheries Center, Miami, Florida (Activity) and American Federation of Government Employees, Local Union 2875, AFL-CIO (Petitioner)



[ v03 p499 ]
03:0499(79)RO
The decision of the Authority follows:


 3 FLRA No. 79
 
 NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE
 SOUTHEAST FISHERIES CENTER
 MIAMI, FLORIDA
 Activity
 
 and
 
 AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT
 EMPLOYEES (AFGE), AFL-CIO,
 LOCAL UNION 2875
 Petitioner
 
                                            Case No. 4-RO-16
 
                            DECISION AND ORDER
 
    UPON A PETITION DULY FILED WITH THE FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY
 UNDER SECTION 7111(B)(1) OF THE FEDERAL SERVICE LABOR-MANAGEMENT
 RELATIONS STATUTE, 5 U.S.C.  7101-7135, A HEARING WAS HELD BEFORE A
 HEARING OFFICER OF THE AUTHORITY.  THE AUTHORITY HAS REVIEWED THE
 HEARING OFFICER'S RULINGS MADE AT THE HEARING AND FINDS THAT THEY ARE
 FREE FROM PREJUDICIAL ERROR.  THE RULINGS ARE HEREBY AFFIRMED.
 
    UPON THE ENTIRE RECORD IN THIS CASE, INCLUDING THE BRIEF FILED BY THE
 ACTIVITY, THE AUTHORITY FINDS:
 
    THE PETITIONER CURRENTLY EXCLUSIVELY REPRESENTS A UNIT OF
 PROFESSIONAL AND NONPROFESSIONAL EMPLOYEES WHO ARE EMPLOYED AT THE
 NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE, SOUTHEAST FISHERIES CENTER, MIAMI,
 FLORIDA LABORATORY.  IN THIS PROCEEDING THE PETITIONER SEEKS TO ADD ON
 TO ITS EXISTING UNIT OF ABOUT 30 EMPLOYEES, THE APPROXIMATELY 40
 EMPLOYEES OF THE NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE'S SOUTHEAST FISHERIES
 CENTER WHO ARE PHYSICALLY EMPLOYED IN MIAMI.
 
    THE NATIONAL MARITIME FISHERIES SERVICE (NMFS) IS A COMPONENT OF THE
 NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION (NOAA).  NMFS MAINTAINS
 A HEADQUARTERS IN METROPOLITAN WASHINGTON, D.C., AND AN ADMINISTRATIVE
 STRUCTURE OF FIVE REGIONS AND FOUR CENTERS.  THE REGIONS ARE NORTHEAST,
 SOUTHEAST, SOUTHWEST, NORTHWEST AND ALASKA.  THE CENTERS ARE NORTHEAST,
 SOUTHEAST, SOUTHWEST AND NORTHWEST, WHICH INCLUDES ALASKA.  THE REGIONS
 AND CENTERS APPEAR TO BE IDENTICAL IN GEOGRAPHIC SCOPE, EXCEPT THAT
 ALASKA IS A SEPARATE REGION BUT PART OF THE NORTHWEST CENTER.  THEY ARE
 ADMINISTRATIVELY INDEPENDENT OF ONE ANOTHER.  THE INSTANT CASE INVOLVES
 ONLY THE SOUTHEAST FISHERIES CENTER (CENTER) AND DOES NOT CONCERN THE
 SOUTHEAST REGION OR ANY OTHER SUBDIVISION OF NMFS.
 
    THE CENTER MAINTAINS A HEADQUARTERS IN MIAMI, FLORIDA, WHICH IS
 SUBDIVIDED AMONG THE:  OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR (DIRECTOR);  OFFICE OF
 PROGRAM PLANNING, EVALUATION AND ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT (SUPPORT);
 OFFICE OF ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR RESEARCH (RESEARCH);  AND OFFICE OF THE
 ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR FISHERY MANAGEMENT (MANAGEMENT).  IN ADDITION TO
 ITS HEADQUARTERS STAFF, THE CENTER CONSISTS OF SEVEN LABORATORIES AND
 THE TECHNICAL AND INFORMATION MANAGEMENT SERVICES (TIMS).  THE
 LABORATORIES ARE LOCATED IN BEAUFORT, NORTH CAROLINA, CHARLESTON, SOUTH
 CAROLINA, MIAMI, FLORIDA, PANAMA CITY, FLORIDA, PASCAGOULA, MISSISSIPPI,
 BAY ST. LOUIS, MISSISSIPPI, AND GALVESTON, TEXAS.  TIMS WHOSE FUNCTION
 IS ESSENTIALLY DATA PROCESSING AND COMPILATION OF STATISTICAL DATA, HAS
 FIELD OFFICES, IN MIAMI, FLORIDA, BEAUFORT, NORTH CAROLINA, GALVESTON,
 TEXAS AND NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA.
 
    AS NOTED ABOVE, THE PETITIONER CURRENTLY REPRESENTS THE EMPLOYEES IN
 THE MIAMI LABORATORY.  IT NOW SEEKS TO ADD TO THAT UNIT ALL OF THE
 SOUTHEAST FISHERIES CENTER EMPLOYEES WHO WORK AT THE SAME LOCATION.
 SPECIFICALLY, IT SEEKS ALL ELIGIBLE EMPLOYEES IN THE FOUR SUBDIVISIONS
 OF HEADQUARTERS EXCEPT FOR ONE FISHERY BIOLOGIST WHO IS PHYSICALLY
 LOCATED AT THE CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA LABORATORY.  THE PETITIONER
 ALSO SEEKS TO REPRESENT TWO EMPLOYEES WHO ARE ADMINISTRATIVELY PART OF
 THE CHARLESTON LABORATORY BUT WHO ARE PHYSICALLY LOCATED IN MIAMI.  IN
 ADDITION, THE PETITIONER SEEKS TO REPRESENT THE APPROXIMATELY 10
 EMPLOYEES ASSIGNED TO TIMS WHO ARE LOCATED IN MIAMI, BUT NOT THE
 APPROXIMATELY 30 SIMILAR EMPLOYEES AT THE OTHER THREE FIELD OFFICES.
 THE PETITIONER DOES NOT DESIRE TO REPRESENT ANY EMPLOYEES OF SOUTHEAST
 FISHERIES CENTER LOCATED OUTSIDE THE MIAMI FACILITY.
 
    THE ACTIVITY CONTENDS THAT ONLY AN ACTIVITY-WIDE (CENTER-WIDE) UNIT
 WOULD BE APPROPRIATE.
 
    THE RECORD REVEALS THAT TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT SUCH AS
 PAY PROCEDURES, HEALTH BENEFITS, TRAINING, PROMOTIONS, DISCIPLINE,
 GRIEVANCES, HOURS OF WORK, AND AWARDS ARE EITHER ESTABLISHED BY NMFS OR,
 WHERE APPROPRIATE, BY DELEGATION TO THE DIRECTOR OF SOUTHEAST FISHERIES
 CENTER.  ROUTINE PERSONNEL MATTERS HAVE IN TURN BEEN DELEGATED TO THE
 REGIONAL PERSONNEL OFFICE WHICH OPERATES FOR THE CENTER AS A WHOLE.
 ONLY THE DIRECTOR OF SOUTHEAST FISHERIES CENTER IS EMPOWERED TO
 NEGOTIATE A LABOR AGREEMENT WITHIN THE CENTER, AND EXPERTISE IN
 LABOR-MANAGEMENT MATTERS RESIDES SOLELY IN NOAA HEADQUARTERS AT
 WASHINGTON.  SIMILAR JOB CLASSIFICATIONS PREVAIL IN THE CENTER
 HEADQUARTERS AND THE SEVEN LABORATORIES.  TIMS EMPLOYEES WORK IN
 DIFFERENT JOB CLASSIFICATIONS THAN THOSE FOUND ELSEWHERE IN THE CENTER,
 BUT, AGAIN, THE SAME CLASSIFICATIONS PREVAIL THROUGHOUT TIMS, WHETHER
 THE EMPLOYEES ARE LOCATED IN MIAMI, BEAUFORT, NEW ORLEANS, OR GALVESTON.
 
    THE RECORD FURTHER REVEALS THAT THERE IS A HIGH DEGREE OF FUNCTIONAL
 INTEGRATION AMONG THE VARIOUS COMPONENTS OF THE CENTER.  EACH COMPONENT
 IS ASSIGNED ONE OR MORE "FOCAL POINTS" OR AREAS OF PRIMARY
 RESPONSIBILITY, AND THEY ARE SUPPORTED BY OTHER COMPONENTS OR BY
 INDIVIDUALS OR GROUPS OF EMPLOYEES IN OTHER COMPONENTS, AS ASSIGNED.
 FOR EXAMPLE, THE MIAMI LABORATORY HAS ONE FOCAL POINT, OCEANIC PELAGICS
 MANAGEMENT.  IT IS SUPPORTED BY MANAGEMENT, TIMS, AND THE PANAMA CITY,
 PASCAGOULA, BAY ST. LOUIS AND GALVESTON LABORATORIES.  RESEARCH HAS TWO
 FOCAL POINTS AND IS ASSIGNED SUPPORT FROM MANAGEMENT, TIMS, AND FIVE
 LABORATORIES.  INDIVIDUAL EMPLOYEES OR GROUPS OF EMPLOYEES THUS ASSIGNED
 AS SUPPORT ARE GIVEN SPECIFIC PROJECTS BY THE COMPONENT CHARGED WITH A
 FOCAL POINT.  THEY ARE DIRECTED IN THEIR WORK BY THOSE AT THE COMPONENT
 IN CHARGE OF THE FOCAL POINT, AND THEIR OUTPUT IS EVALUATED BY THAT
 COMPONENT.  THUS, IT APPEARS THAT EMPLOYEES AT EACH OF THE COMPONENTS OF
 THE CENTER WORK IN CLOSE CONTACT WITH THOSE IN OTHER COMPONENTS EITHER
 BECAUSE OF THE FUNCTIONAL INTEGRATION OF THEIR WORK OR BECAUSE OF ACTUAL
 EMPLOYEE INTERCHANGE.
 
    DURING THE PERIOD FROM OCTOBER 1976 TO JULY 1979 THERE WERE ABOUT 45
 PERMANENT TRANSFERS OF EMPLOYEES AMONG THE VARIOUS COMPONENTS OF THE
 SOUTHEAST FISHERIES CENTER.  THE MIAMI HEADQUARTERS COMPONENTS
 PERMANENTLY ACQUIRED 13 EMPLOYEES AND LOST TWO.  TIMS ACQUIRED 17 AND
 LOST NONE, ALTHOUGH IT IS NOT ESTABLISHED WHEN THOSE ACQUISITIONS
 OCCURRED.  THE LABORATORIES, OTHER THAN MIAMI, ACQUIRED 13 AND LOST 23.
 THE MIAMI LABORATORY ALONE ACQUIRED TWO EMPLOYEES BUT PERMANENTLY LOST
 20.  IN THE SAME TIME FRAME THERE WERE 20 INSTANCES OF TEMPORARY
 TRANSFERS.  THERE WERE EIGHT TEMPORARY ASSIGNMENTS INTO CENTER
 HEADQUARTERS AND ONE OUT.  SEVEN EMPLOYEES WERE TEMPORARILY ASSIGNED TO
 TIMS AND NONE WERE ASSIGNED OUT.  THE LABORATORIES, OTHER THAN MIAMI,
 TEMPORARILY ACQUIRED THE SERVICES OF FOUR EMPLOYEES AND LOST 11, AND THE
 MIAMI LABORATORY TEMPORARILY GAINED ONE EMPLOYEE AND LOST EIGHT.  THE
 RECORD DOES NOT REVEAL THE EXTENT, IF ANY, OF THE INTERCHANGE BETWEEN
 THE MIAMI LABORATORY CURRENTLY REPRESENTED BY THE PETITIONER AND THE
 MIAMI EMPLOYEES SOUGHT HEREIN.
 
    THERE ARE APPROXIMATELY 290 PERMANENT FULLTIME EMPLOYEES IN THE
 SOUTHEAST FISHERIES CENTER, AND THE MIAMI LABORATORY CONSTITUTES THE
 SOLE UNIT OF EXCLUSIVE RECOGNITION.  ELSEWHERE IN NMFS, THERE IS A
 HEADQUARTERS-WIDE UNIT IN WASHINGTON, D.C., AND A REGION-WIDE UNIT IN
 THE NORTHWEST REGION.  IN THE NORTHEAST FISHERIES CENTER THERE IS A UNIT
 OF TWO OUT OF EIGHT LABORATORIES, AND IN THE SOUTHWEST FISHERIES CENTER
 THERE IS A UNIT CONSISTING OF ONE OF FOUR LABORATORIES.
 
    ALTHOUGH THE EMPLOYEES CURRENTLY REPRESENTED BY THE PETITIONER AND
 THOSE SOUGHT HEREIN WORK IN THE SAME BUILDING AND SHARE SUCH FACILITIES
 AS A COMMON PARKING LOT AND LUNCHROOM, THE RECORD IS DEVOID OF EVIDENCE
 THAT THEY SHARE ANY PARTICULAR TERMS OR CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT, AND
 THUS ANY UNIQUE COMMUNITY OF INTEREST, SEPARATE AND APART FROM OTHER
 CENTER EMPLOYEES EXCEPT FOR THOSE THAT MIGHT BE IMPLIED FROM A COMMON
 LOCATION.
 
    UNDER ALL THE CIRCUMSTANCES, THE AUTHORITY CONCLUDES THAT THE UNIT
 WHICH THE PETITIONER SEEKS TO REPRESENT IS NOT APPROPRIATE FOR THE
 PURPOSE OF EXCLUSIVE RECOGNITION UNDER SECTION 7112(A) OF THE STATUTE AS
 IT DOES NOT ENCOMPASS EMPLOYEES WHO SHARE A CLEAR AND IDENTIFIABLE
 COMMUNITY OF INTEREST SEPARATE AND DISTINCT FROM OTHER EMPLOYEES OF THE
 ACTIVITY, AND IT WILL NOT PROMOTE EFFECTIVE DEALINGS AND EFFICIENCY OF
 THE OPERATIONS OF THE AGENCY.  THUS, EMPLOYEES WHO WOULD BE INCLUDED IN,
 AND EMPLOYEES WHO WOULD BE EXCLUDED FROM, THE UNIT SOUGHT PERFORM THE
 SAME FUNCTIONS, POSSESS ESSENTIALLY THE SAME JOB CLASSIFICATIONS, SKILLS
 AND QUALIFICATIONS, ARE ENGAGED IN COMMON AND INTEGRATED WORK PROJECTS,
 AND ENJOY COMMON SUPERVISION AND WORKING CONDITIONS.  HENCE, THERE IS NO
 CLEAR AND IDENTIFIABLE COMMUNITY OF INTEREST AMONG THE EMPLOYEES IN THE
 PROPOSED UNIT, SEPARATE AND DISTINCT FROM THOSE EMPLOYEES WHO WOULD BE
 EXCLUDED.  FURTHER, IT IS CLEAR THAT THE UNIT SOUGHT IS NOT COEXTENSIVE
 WITH ANY ADMINISTRATIVE COMPONENT OR SUBDIVISION OF THE ACTIVITY.
 RATHER, THE UNIT SOUGHT WOULD FRAGMENT THE ACTIVITY, AND SEVERAL OF ITS
 COMPONENTS AS WELL.  IN THIS REGARD, THE RECORD DISCLOSES THAT TWO
 EMPLOYEES FROM THE CHARLESTON LABORATORY WOULD BE INCLUDED IN THE
 SOUGHT
 UNIT, BUT ONE EMPLOYEE IN CENTER HEADQUARTERS WOULD BE EXCLUDED;  AND,
 THAT THREE OUT OF FOUR TIMS EMPLOYEES W