10:0670(112)AR - Watervliet Arsenal, Army and NAGE Local R2-98 -- 1982 FLRAdec AR



[ v10 p670 ]
10:0670(112)AR
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.