10:0670(112)AR - Watervliet Arsenal, Army and NAGE Local R2-98 -- 1982 FLRAdec AR
[ v10 p670 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:
10 FLRA No. 112 WATERVLIET ARSENAL, DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY Activity and NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, LOCAL R2-98 Union Case No. O-AR-191 DECISION This matter is before the Authority on exceptions to the award of Arbitrator John E. Sands filed by the Agency under section 7122(a) of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (the Statute) and part 2425 of the Authority's Rules and Regulations. /1/ The Office of Personnel Management filed an amicus curiae brief. The dispute in this matter concerns the 1979 wage survey for purposes of fixing and adjusting the wage schedules for prevailing rate employees in the Albany-Schenectady-Troy wage area. The wages of the employees involved in this case are governed by the Prevailing Rate Systems Act of 1972 which is codified at 5 U.S.C. 5341-5349 and which is commonly referred to as the prevailing rate statute. Section 5341 states the general policy of the statute that rates of pay of prevailing rate employees are to be adjusted from time to time as nearly as is consistent with the public interest in accordance with the prevailing rates paid for comparable work in the local area by the private sector. Section 5343 establishes the basic mechanism to carry out this policy which has been implemented by uniform instructions in Federal Personnel Manual Supplement 532-1, subchapter S-5. At the time of the dispute in this case, the Civil Service Commission (CSC) (now the Office of Personnel Management) was responsible for defining geographical wage areas and for designating a lead agency for each area. 5 U.S.C. 5343(a). In accordance with the prevailing rate statute, the lead agency conducts a wage survey in the area, analyzes THE DATA, AND DEVELOPS AND ESTABLISHES APPROPRIATE WAGE SCHEDULES AND rates for prevailing rate employees which in most instances all agencies with prevailing rate employees in the wage area must apply. Id. In terms of this case, CSC had designated the Department of Defense (DOD) as the lead agency in the Albany-Schenectady-Troy wage area. As the lead agency, DOD designated Watervliet Arsenal as the host activity which obligated the Arsenal to provide support facilities and clerical assistance for the wage survey. FPM Supp. 532-1, subchapter S5-3. DOD additionally established a local wage survey committee which included a representative of National Association of Government Employees Local R2-98. See id. At the time of the dispute in this case, FPM Supp. 532-1, appendix C provided for full-scale wage surveys in even-numbered years for the Albany-Schenectady-Troy wage area. The 1979 wage survey was therefore originally scheduled to be an interim survey-- a wage-change survey to update the 1978 full-scale survey. However, DOD requested of CSC under FPM Supp. 532-1, subchapter S5-3 that the survey schedule for Albany-Schenectady-Troy be changed to provide for a full-scale survey in odd-numbered years commencing in 1979. That request was expressly approved by CSC in a letter to DOD in October 1978, but the change was not incorporated into the FPM until April 1980. Pursuant to the October 1978 approval of CSC, DOD conducted a full-scale wage survey beginning in March 1979 and subsequently developed and established the wage schedules and rates for the prevailing rate employees in the area. In accordance with section 5343(a), wages for all prevailing rate employees in the wage area were adjusted accordingly, including approximately 1300 prevailing rate employees at Watervliet Arsenal who were represented by NAGE Local R2-98. Local R2-98 filed a grievance under its collective bargaining agreement with the Arsenal claiming that DOD violated the agreement by conducting a full-scale wage survey instead of a wage-change survey. The grievance was not resolved and was submitted to arbitration. The Arbitrator determined that FPM Supp. 532-1 expressly requires that the schedule of surveys must be in accordance with appendix C. Because appendix C was not amended until 1980 to provide for full-scale wage surveys in the Albany-Schenectady-Troy wage area in odd-numbered years, the Arbitrator ruled that consequently DOD was not authorized in 1979 to conduct a full-scale wage survey. Accordingly, the Arbitrator found that Watervliet Arsenal violated its collective bargaining agreement with Local R2-98 by conducting a full-scale wage survey in 1979 instead of a wage-change survey. As a remedy he ordered the Arsenal to reprocess the 1979 survey and establish the wage schedules which would have resulted from a wage-change survey and to compensate accordingly the prevailing rate employees covered by the parties' collective bargaining agreement. As one of its exceptions, the Agency contends that the award is contrary to the prevailing rate statute and FPM Supp. 532-1, subchapter S5. The Authority agrees. Under the prevailing rate statute and FPM Supp. 532-1, subchapter S5, only the designated lead agency is authorized to condu.t a wage survey for purposes of fixing and adjusting the wage schedules and rates of prevailing rate employees, and only the designated lead agency is authorized to establish appropriate wage schedules and rates for prevailing rate employees. See National Federation of Federal Employees v. Brown, 645 F.2d 1017, 1020 (D.C. Cir. 1981). Likewise, uniformity is mandated by the requirement that all agencies with prevailing rate employees in the local wage area must apply applicable wage schedules and rates established by the lead agency. See id. at 1020. In terms of this case, Watervliet Arsenal was only the host activity providing support and assistance to DOD; it was not the designated lead agency and, contrary to the Arbitrator's determination, the Arsenal did not conduct within the meaning of the prevailing rate statute the 1979 wage survey. Moreover, under governing law and regulation, Watervliet Arsenal is not authorized and may not properly be directed to reprocess the 1979 wage survey, to establish wage schedules for prevailing rate employees, or to apply wage schedules to prevailing rate employees covered by its collective bargaining agreement with Local R2-98 that have not been established by DOD as the designated lead agency for the wage area. Consequently, the Arbitrator's award is deficient as contrary to the Prevailing Rate Systems Act of 1972, 5 U.S.C. 5341-5349, and FPM Supp. 532-1, subchapter S5. /2/ Accordingly, the Arbitrator's award is set aside. /3/ Issued, Washington, D.C., December 16, 1982 Ronald W.