U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, Minneapolis ADP Field Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota (Activity) and American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO (Petitioner)

 



[ v05 p685 ]
05:0685(92)RO
The decision of the Authority follows:


 5 FLRA No. 92
 
 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
 FOOD AND NUTRITION SERVICE,
 MINNEAPOLIS ADP FIELD CENTER,
 MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA
 Activity
 
 and
 
 AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT
 EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO
 Petitioner
 
                                            Case No. 5-RO-23
 
                            DECISION AND ORDER
 
    UPON A PETITION DULY FILED WITH THE FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY
 UNDER SECTION 7111(B) OF THE FEDERAL SERVICE LABOR-MANAGEMENT RELATIONS
 STATUTE (STATUTE), 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, THE AUTHORITY FINDS:  THE
 AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO (AFGE) FILED A
 PETITION SEEKING AN ELECTION IN A UNIT COMPOSED OF ALL GENERAL SCHEDULE
 AND WAGE GRADE NON-SUPERVISORY, NON-PROFESSIONAL, NON-MANAGERIAL
 EMPLOYEES LOCATED AT THE MINNEAPOLIS ADP FIELD CENTER, MINNEAPOLIS,
 MINNESOTA (ACTIVITY), EXCLUDING ALL SUPERVISORS, PROFESSIONALS,
 MANAGEMENT OFFICIALS AND EMPLOYEES ENGAGED IN FEDERAL PERSONNEL WORK
 EXCEPT IN A PURELY CLERICAL CAPACITY.  THE ACTIVITY CONTENDS THAT THE
 UNIT SOUGHT IS INAPPROPRIATE FOR EXCLUSIVE RECOGNITION UNDER THE STATUTE
 INASMUCH AS THE EMPLOYEES INVOLVED DO NOT SHARE A COMMUNITY OF INTEREST
 SEPARATE AND DISTINCT FROM THE EMPLOYEES IN THE OTHER FOUR BRANCHES
 WITHIN THE DIVISION (I.E., THE FOOD AND NUTRITION SERVICE), AND THAT
 SUCH UNIT WOULD LEAD TO UNWARRANTED FRAGMENTATION OF THE DIVISION AND
 WOULD NOT PROMOTE EFFECTIVE DEALINGS AND EFFICIENCY OF AGENCY
 OPERATIONS.  AFGE TAKES THE POSITION THAT THE UNIT SOUGHT IS APPROPRIATE
 AS EVIDENCED BY ITS ADEQUATE SHOWING OF INTEREST.  THE RECORD INDICATES
 THAT THERE IS NO HISTORY OF COLLECTIVE BARGAINING WITHIN THE DIVISION.
 
    THE FOOD AND NUTRITION SERVICE (FNS) IS A DIVISION OF THE DEPARTMENT
 OF AGRICULTURE RESPONSIBLE FOR PROVIDING ASSISTANCE WITH RESPECT TO
 PROGRAMS INVOLVING FOOD STAMPS, CHILD NUTRITION, FOOD DISTRIBUTION, AND
 THE NUTRITION AND FEEDING OF WOMEN, INFANTS AND CHILDREN.  THERE ARE
 FIVE DEPUTY ADMINISTRATORS WHO REPORT TO THE ADMINISTRATOR OF THE FNS.
 ONE OF THE FIVE IS THE DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR FOR THE AUTOMATED SYSTEMS
 DIVISION (ASD).  THE MINNEAPOLIS ADP FIELD CENTER, THE ACTIVITY HEREIN,
 IS ONE OF FIVE BRANCHES WITHIN THE ASD.  THE OTHER FOUR ASD BRANCHES ARE
 LOCATED IN WASHINGTON, D.C.  THE MISSION OF THE ASD IS TO PROVIDE
 COMPUTER SUPPORT, SYSTEMS DESIGN SUPPORT, AND COMPUTER OPERATIONS
 SUPPORT FOR ALL OF THE MAJOR GROUPS WITHIN FNS.  THE ACTIVITY AIDS ASD
 IN CARRYING OUT THAT MISSION BY PROVIDING ADP SYSTEMS ANALYSIS,
 PROGRAMMING, AND OPERATIONAL SUPPORT TO ACTIVITIES OF FNS FIELD AND
 COMPLIANCE OFFICERS;  BY PROVIDING SPECIAL SYSTEMS SUPPORT TO THE DEPUTY
 ADMINISTRATOR FOR REGIONAL OPERATIONS;  AND BY PROVIDING COMPUTERIZED
 PRINTING AND MAILING SERVICES TO FNS ORGANIZATIONS.  THE ACTIVITY'S
 BASIC FUNCTION IS TO MONITOR FOOD STAMP ACTIVITY NATIONWIDE THROUGH
 GROCERY STORES.
 
    THE UNIT SOUGHT IS COMPOSED OF APPROXIMATELY 30 OF THE 90 EMPLOYEES
 IN THE ASD.  ALL EMPLOYEES IN THE FIVE BRANCHES OF THE ASD HAVE
 ESSENTIALLY THE SAME JOB CLASSIFICATIONS, PERFORM SIMILAR FUNCTIONS,
 ENGAGE IN INTEGRATED WORK PROJECTS AND TASKS, ARE TRANSFERRED AND
 REASSIGNED TO OTHER BRANCHES OF THE ASD, COMPETE ON A DIVISION-WIDE
 BASIS FOR PROMOTIONAL OPPORTUNITIES AT THE GS-7 LEVEL AND ABOVE, ARE
 SUBJECT TO THE SAME AGENCY GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE AND REDUCTION-IN-FORCE
 PROCEDURES, AND ARE COVERED BY THE SAME AGENCY-WIDE PERSONNEL POLICIES
 AND PRACTICES.  AUTHORITY TO AWARD, PROMOTE, DISCIPLINE OR SUSPEND
 EMPLOYEES FLOWS FROM THE DIVISION LEVEL AND HIGHER WITHIN THE AGENCY.
 
    BASED ON THE FOREGOING 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 OF THE STATUTE,
 BECAUSE THE EMPLOYEES SOUGHT TO BE INCLUDED DO NOT SHARE A CLEAR AND
 IDENTIFIABLE COMMUNITY OF INTEREST SEPARATE AND DISTINCT FROM THE
 EMPLOYEES IN THE OTHER FOUR BRANCHES OF THE ASD, AND IT WILL NOT PROMOTE
 EFFECTIVE DEALINGS AND EFFICIENCY OF THE OPERATIONS OF THE AGENCY.
 DEALING FIRST WITH THE COMMUNITY OF INTEREST REQUIREMENT OF SECTION
 7112(A)(1), THE ABOVE CITED FACTS MAKE IT CLEAR THAT EMPLOYEES WHO WOULD
 BE INCLUDED IN THE PROPOSED UNIT SHARE WITH EMPLOYEES WHO WOULD BE
 EXCLUDED FROM THAT UNIT ESSENTIALLY THE SAME MISSION AND DUTIES AND ARE
 SUBJECT TO THE SAME PERSONNEL POLICIES AND PRACTICES.  FURTHER, THERE IS
 A SIGNIFICANT INTERCHANGE BETWEEN EMPLOYEES LOCATED AT THE ACTIVITY AND
 EMPLOYEES LOCATED AT OTHER BRANCHES OF THE ASD.  HENCE, THERE IS NO
 CLEAR AND IDENTIFIABLE COMMUNITY OF INTEREST WHICH THE 30 PETITIONED FOR
 EMPLOYEES SHARE ONLY AMONGST THEMSELVES.  /1/
 
    THE AUTHORITY FURTHER NOTES THAT THE PROPOSED UNIT OF 30 OUT OF 90
 ASD EMPLOYEES WOULD NOT PROMOTE EFFECTIVE DEALINGS OR EFFICIENCY OF
 AGENCY OPERATIONS SINCE IT WOULD RESULT IN ARTIFICIAL FRAGMENTATION OF
 AN INTEGRATED ADMINISTRATIVE COMPONENT OR SUBDIVISION OF THE AGENCY ON
 THE BASIS OF GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION ALONE.  MOREOVER, AS PREVIOUSLY STATED,
 PERSONNEL POLICIES AND PRACTICES ARE CENTRALLY ESTABLISHED AND UNIFORMLY
 IMPLEMENTED FOR