11:0655(112)CA NTEU VS TREASURY, IRS -- 1983 FLRAdec CA



[ v11 p655 ]
11:0655(112)CA
The decision of the Authority follows:


11 FLRA NO. 112

INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE
WESTERN REGION
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA

     Respondent

     and

NATIONAL TREASURY EMPLOYEES UNION

     Charging Party

Case No. 9-CA-425

DECISION AND ORDER

The Administrative Law Judge issued the attached Decision in the above-entitled proceeding finding that the Respondent had engaged in certain unfair labor practices alleged in the complaint, and recommending that it be ordered to cease and desist therefrom and take certain affirmative action. Exceptions to the Judge's Decision were filed by the Respondent, and an opposition thereto was filed by the General Counsel. 1

Pursuant to section 2423.29 of the Authority's Rules and Regulations and section 7118 of the Federal Service Labor - Management Relations Statute (the Statute), the Authority has reviewed the rulings of the Judge made at the hearing and finds that no prejudicial error was committed. The rulings are hereby affirmed. Upon consideration of the Judge's Decision and the entire record, the Authority hereby adopts the Judge's findings and conclusions that the Respondent violated section 7116(a)(1) and (5) of the Statute by unilaterally changing the established past practice of holding all grievance meetings at Step 4 of the parties' negotiated grievance procedure in San Francisco, California. Thus, the record indicates that between 1974 2 and March 21, 1980, all 12 grievance meetings at Step 4 were held in San Francisco even when the employee-grievant was located elsewhere, but that in March 1980 the Respondent unilaterally decided to hold a Step 4 grievance meeting in [ v11 p655 ] Seattle, Washington, and specifically refused the Union's request to negotiate concerning the change in the location, contending that the matter was not subject to bargaining. The Authority, in agreement with the Judge, concludes that the location of the grievance hearings affects the conditions of employment of unit employees and is within the duty to bargain. Cf. American Federation of Government Employees, Local 547, AFL - CIO, 4 FLRA No. 50 (1980) (wherein the Authority held negotiable a union proposal (Proposal II) which concerned the observation of time limits for presentation and processing of grievances). The Respondent's unilateral change and refusal to bargain concerning the decision to change an established past practice regarding the negotiated grievance procedure and its impact therefore constituted a violation of section 7116(a)(1) and (5) of the Statute.

The Authority further agrees with the Judge's recommendation that the Respondent to be ordered to reimburse the Union's representative for his reasonable expenses incurred in attending the Step 4 grievance meeting in Seattle, Washington, upon presentation of an appropriate voucher documenting the amount of such expenses. Additionally, in light of the Respondent's improper unilateral change of an established past practice, the Judge's recommended order shall be modified to require the Respondent to reinstitute the past practice concerning the location of Step 4 grievance meetings. 3

ORDER

Pursuant to section 2423.29 of the Federal Labor Relations Authority's Rules and Regulations and section 7118 of the Statute, the Authority hereby orders that the Internal Revenue Service, Western Region, San Francisco, California, shall:

1. Cease and desist from:

(a) Instituting any change in its established practice of holding Step 4 grievance meetings at San Francisco, California, without first notifying the National Treasury Employees Union, the exclusive representative of its employees, and affording if the opportunity to meet and negotiate on the decision to effectuate such change.

(b) In any like or related manner interfering with, restraining, or coercing its employees in the exercise of their rights assured by the Federal Service Labor - Management Relations Statute.

2. Take the following affirmative action in order to effectuate the purposes and policies of the Federal Service Labor - Management Relations Statute: [ v11 p656 ]

(a) Reinstitute the established practice of holding Step 4 grievance meetings at San Francisco, California.

(b) Notify the National Treasury Employees Union, the exclusive representative of its employees, of any intended change in such established practice, and, upon request, meet and negotiate in good faith concerning the decision to effectuate such change.

(c) Make whole the representative of the National Treasury Employees Union for his reasonable expenses incurred in attending the Step 4 grievance meeting at Seattle, Washington, in his official capacity as Union representative, upon presentation of an appropriate voucher documenting the amount of such expenses.

(d) Post at its facilities, Internal Revenue Service, Western Region, San Francisco, California, copies of the attached Notice to be furnished by the Federal Labor Relations Authority. Copies of said Notice shall be signed by the Regional Commissioner or his designee, and shall be posted and maintained for 60 consecutive days thereafter, in conspicuous places, including all places where notices to employees are customarily posted. Reasonable steps shall be taken by the Respondent to insure that said Notices are not altered, defaced, or covered by any other material.

(d) Pursuant to section 2423.30 of the Authority's Rules and Regulations, notify the Regional Director, Region IX, Federal Labor Relations Authority, in writing, within 30 days from the date of this Order, as to what steps have been taken to comply herewith.

Issued, Washington, D.C., March 18, 1983

Ronald W. Haughton, Chairman

Henry B. Frazier III, Member

Leon B. Applewhaite, Member

FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY

[ v11 p657 ]

                        NOTICE TO ALL EMPLOYEES
                               PURSUANT TO
                       A DECISION AND ORDER OF THE
                    FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY
               AND IN ORDER TO EFFECTUATE THE POLICIES OF
                      CHAPTER 71 OF TITLE 5 OF THE
                           UNITED STATES CODE
               FEDERAL SERVICE LABOR-MANAGEMENT RELATIONS
                  WE HEREBY NOTIFY OUR EMPLOYEES THAT:

WE WILL NOT institute any change in the established practice of holding Step 4 grievance meetings at San Francisco, California, without first notifying the National Treasury Employees Union, the exclusive representative of our employees, and affording it the opportunity to meet and negotiate on the decision to effectuate such change.

WE WILL NOT in any like or related manner interfere with, restrain, or coerce any employees in the exercise of their rights assured by the Federal Service Labor - Management Relations Statute.

WE WILL reinstitute the established practice of holding Step 4 grievance meetings at San Francisco, California.

WE WILL notify the National Treasury Employees Union, the exclusive representative of our employees, of any intended change in such established practice, and, upon request, meet and negotiate in good faith concerning the decision to effectuate such change.

WE WILL make whole the representative of the National Treasury Employees Union for his reasonable expenses incurred in attending the Step 4 grievance meeting at Seattle, Washington, in his official capacity as Union representative, upon presentation of an appropriate voucher documenting the amount of such expenses.

                             ________________________
                                  (Activity)

Dated:____________________By:________________________
                              (Signature)  (Title)

This Notice must remain posted for 60 consecutive days from the date of posting, and must not be altered, defaced, or covered by any other material. [ v11 p658 ]

If employees have any questions concerning this Notice or compliance with its provisions, they may communicate directly with the Regional Director for the Federal Relations Authority whose address is: Ms. Marilyn W. Koslow, Acting Regional Director, Federal Labor Relations Authority, Region IX, 530 Bush Street, Room 542, San Francisco, California 94108. [ v11 p659 ]

INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE
WESTERN REGION
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA

     Respondent

     and

NATIONAL TREASURY EMPLOYEES UNION

     Charging Party

Case No.: 9-CA-425

Paul L. Dixon, Esq.
         For the Respondent

Stefanie Arthur, Esq.
         For the General Counsel

Alan S. Hersh, Esq.
         For the Charging Party

Before:  WILLIAM NAIMARK
         Administrative Law Judge

DECISION

Statement of the Case

Pursuant to a Complaint and Notice of Hearing issued on June 30, 1980 by the Regional Director for the Federal Labor Relations Authority, San Francisco, California Region, a hearing was held before the undersigned on October 23, 1980 at San Francisco, California.

This proceeding arises under the Federal Service Labor - Management Relations Statute (herein called the Act). It is based on an amended charge filed by National Treasury Employees Union (herein called the Union) against Internal Revenue Service, Western Region. San Francisco, California (herein called the Respondent). [ v11 p660 ]

The complaint herein alleged that Respondent has refused to bargain in good faith since January 24, 1980 in violation of Sections 7116(a)(1) and (5) of the Act. The gravamen of the complaint is that Respondent, on or about January 24, 1980, unilaterally changed its past practice of holding Fourth Step grievance meetings with the Union in San Francisco - all without providing the Union an opportunity to bargain regarding the change as well as its impact and implementation.

A response dated July 23, 1980 was filed by Respondent which denied the essential allegations of the complaint and the commission of any unfair labor practices.

All parties were represented at the hearing. Each was afforded full opportunity to be heard, to adduce evidence, and to examine as well as cross-examine witnesses. Thereafter briefs were filed with the undersigned which have been duly considered.

Upon the entire record in this case, from my observation of the witnesses and their demeanor, and from all of the testimony and evidence adduced at the hearing, I make the following findings and conclusions:

Findings of Fact

1. At all times material herein the Union, through Local Chapter 81, has been the collective bargaining representative of all professional and non-professional employees (approximately 400) in the Western Region of the Internal Revenue Service. The Western Region has offices in the cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Portland, and Seattle, and covers other areas, including Hawaii and Alaska.

2. Both Respondent and the Union are parties to a collective bargaining agreement covering the aforesaid employees of various regional offices, including the Western Region, which is effective by its terms for a four year period from July 21, 1977. The said agreement provides, under Article 33, for a grievance procedure involving disputes with the employer. It includes a four step procedure with final arbitration, when invoked, to resolve certain disputes. The following pertinent provisions are found under Article 33:

"Section 7

Step 3 - "The site of the meeting shall be at the headquarters office or some other mutually agreed upon location. Step 3 meetings involving more than one grievant shall be held at a location determined by the Employer."

"Section 9

"New issues may not be raised by either party unless they have been raised at Step 1 of the grievance procedure; provided, however, the parties may mutually agree to join new issues to a grievance in process." [ v11 p661 ]

3. Although Article 33 refers to the procedures which must be followed in Step 4, during the processing of a grievance, no mention is made in the agreement of the location at which the grievance meeting thereunder is to be held.

4. Since 1944, and until March 21, 1980, about twelve Step 4 grievance meetings were held under the aforesaid agreement, and all such sessions took place in San Francisco, California. These meetings involved instances where either an employee or the Union was the grievant. In a particular instances where the employee-grievant was stationed outside of San Francisco Respondent, in accordance with its policy in such event, paid the expenses of said individual for his trip to San Francisco.

5. By letter dated October 26, 1979, John Loflin, a Seattle, Washington Appeals Officer, filed a grievance with H.O. McKay, Associate Chief of Respondent's Seattle Appeals Office. Loflin waived Steps 1 and 2 of the grievance procedure, and a third step meeting was held in San Francisco at headquarters office in accord with the contractual agreement. The agency, at its own expense, arranged for Loflin to be flown to San Francisco for this meeting. Thereafter a Step 4 meeting, in respect to this grievance, was requested on behalf of the grievant.

6. On January 24, 1980 4 Sandy Schwabe, Labor Relations Specialist for Respondent, telephoned Joseph Sheean, President of Chapter 81 and chief steward in San Francisco, to inform him that the Step 4 grievance meeting regarding Loflin would be held in Seattle, Washington. Schwabe stated further that the session would be conducted by the Seattle District Director as the designee of the Regional Commissioner. Sheean objected to holding the meeting in Seattle as well as the fact that the District Director would conduct it. 5 He insisted that this was departure from past practice; and Sheean stated that if the meeting occurred in Seattle, the Union would have to be reimbursed for expenses incurred to attend thereat.

7. By letter dated January 24, Sheean wrote Respondent's Regional Commissioner, Thomas A. Cardozo, to protest the fact that the Fourth Step meeting would take place in Seattle. He declared that if the Loflin grievance hearing occurred thereat, the Union officials expected to be paid travel expenses from San Francisco as well as a per diem allowance. [ v11 p662 ]

8. Cardozo replied to Sheean in writing on March 10, stating that it was less expensive to conduct meetings in Seattle and Phoenix. He refused to hold the Loflin grievance hearing in San Francisco and denied the request to reimburse the union agents for their expenses to Seattle.

9. By letter dated March 19, Sheean advised Schwabe that the Union did not agree to the Seattle site for holding the Fourth Step Loflin grievance meeting; that he requested Respondent to negotiate changing the locale of the meeting; and that, if it occurred in Seattle, management should reimburse the union for its expenses incurred to attend the event.

10. The Fourth Step grievance meeting regarding Loflin was held in Seattle on March 21. In attendance thereat were Loflin, Sheean, Arturo Jacobs, District Director for the Seattle District office, and Steven Wearer, a labor relations specialist in that office. The Union official objected again to both holding the session in Seattle and its being conducted by the Seattle Director. Sheean also stated he wanted his protests to be part of the record. No further discussion regarding the matter took place, nor did the Union agent request that the parties include this issue as part of the grievance against management.

11. Sheean submitted a voucher to Respondent on March 25 requesting reimbursement for per diem and travel expenses incurred, in the sum of $273.20, by reason of his traveling from San Francisco to Seattle to attend the Step 4 grievance meeting as aforesaid. The request was denied by Respondent on March 26.

12. By letter dated April 2 the Assistant Council of the Union, David S. Handsher, reaffirmed the Union's request that Cardozo negotiate the change in holding Fourth Step grievance meetings outside of San Francisco, as well as the change regarding designating the presiding official from outside the direct employ of the Western Region.

13. By letter dated April 11, Seattle District Director Jacobs stated that consideration had been given to the employee's objection regarding the site of the meeting as well as the designations of Jacobs as the Step 4 official; that management interpreted the Multi - Regional Agreement as providing for the Fourth Step meeting site to be determined on a case by case basis; and that management would be represented by the Regional Commissioner or his designee.

14. Representatives of management and the Union met on April 17 to discuss the change in location of the Step 4 grievance sessions. Respondent advised Sheean it would not negotiate the said change; that it would be determined by management and was not the subject of bargaining.

15. In a letter dated May 28 from Gordon Collier, Chief of the Regional Office, Personnel Section to Sheean, the management official recited that the grievance procedure had been negotiated with the Union and is contained in the written agreement; that Respondent's interpretation of the contract is that [ v11 p663 ] Fourth Step meeting sites will be decided by management on a case by case basis; and that the matter is one of contract interpretation and not a proper subject for negotiation. 6

Conclusions

The principal issue for determination herein is whether Respondent violated Sections 7116(a)(1) and (5) of the Act by holding a Fourth Step grievance meeting on March 21, 1980 in Seattle, Washington without negotiating the place of said meeting with the Union. General Counsel contends that, in respect to Fourth Step grievance meetings, the past practice was to hold such sessions in San Francisco. Thus, it is asserted the unilateral change in such practice by conducting a Fourth Step meeting in Seattle, and the refusal to negotiate the change with the bargaining agent, constitutes an unfair labor practice.

In insisting that it has not run afoul of the Statute, Respondent makes the following contentions: (1) the issue herein is barred under Section 7116 (d) of the Act since it was raised under the grievance procedure when the matter "was joined to the grievance in progress, and the Step 4 grievance official responded on the merits of the issue"; (2) the central issue is, in fact, a question of contract interpretation which can, and should be, resolved by arbitration; (3) no unilateral change was effected by management of a condition of employment.

(1) Under Section 7116(d) issues may be raised under the grievance procedure, or as an unfair labor practice, 7 but not under both procedures. Respondent argues that at the Step 4 grievance meeting on March 21, regarding the grievance of employee Loflin, the issue concerning the site of the meeting was joined thereto. Since the Union protested holding the session in Seattle, and management responded to this objection when it denied the grievance of Loflin on April 11, it is maintained that the issue was disposed of under the grievance procedure.

Careful consideration of the record herein convinces me that Respondent's position in this regard lacks merit. Despite the Union's protest on March 21, when it met to discuss the Loflin grievance, that the meeting should not be held in Seattle, it does not appear that the bargaining agent intended to [ v11 p664 ] submit that issue for determination along with the grievance. It neither filed a grievance regarding the holding the Step 4 meeting on March 21 outside San Francisco, nor did it expressly or impliedly consent that the matter be 'joined' to the Loflin grievance. I find no such conduct on the Union's part, as maintained by Respondent, which 'triggered' a disposition by the District Director on the merits of the issue under consideration herein.

The issue raised by the Loflin grievance involved distinct and separate matters from the item posed under the complaint in this case. Further, the Loflin grievance was not filed by the Union as an aggrieved party, but averred alleged wrongs inflicted by management upon that particular employee. The unfair labor practices alleged herein concerns action by management directed toward the bargaining representative. It does not appear to the undersigned that either the filing of the Loflin grievance, or the protest registered by the Union or March 21 regarding the site of discussing that grievance, constituted an election of remedies regarding the issue of whether Respondent unilaterally changed the site of Fourth Step grievance meetings in contravention of the Act. See United States Air Force, Air Force Logistics Command, Aerospace Guidance and Metrology Center, Neward, Ohio 4 FLRA No. 70. In instances where the matter at hand was barred under Section 19(d) of Executive Order 11491, as amended - the correlative language of 7116(d) set forth in the Act - the issue had either been raised separately as a grievance, or litigated during the grievance process. cf. Boston District Office, Internal Revenue Service, A/SLMR No. 727; Federal Aviation Administration, Muskogee Air Traffic Control Tower, A/SLMR No. 534. I am satisfied that the issue which is the subject of the instant complaint was not litigated, or intended to be, at the Loflin grievance session on March 21. Further, that the issues posed by the said grievance and the unfair labor practice allegation herein are distinct from one another. Accordingly, and on the basis of the foregoing, I conclude that the complaint is not barred under Section 7116(d) of the Act.

(2) It is further maintained by Respondent that the dispute as to the site of Step 4 grievance meeting involves a matter of contract interpretation which should be resolved through the grievance and arbitration machinery 8 [ v11 p665 ] The employer relies on the past decision in the public Sector wherein no violations were found if the dispute was, in fact, a matter of contract interpretation. See Social Security Administration, District Office in Denver et. al, 3 FLRA No. 10; Department of the Navy, Naval Weapons Station, Concord, California, A/SLMR No. 1115.

Past decisions have enunciated the doctrine that a party to a negotiated agreement acts at its peril in interpreting and applying such agreement. Thus, if the interpretation resulted in a clear and patent breach of the terms thereof, such interpretation could rise to the level of an unfair labor practice. If, however, the interpretation was arguably within the terms of the negotiated agreement, such interpretation would best be resolved through the grievance and arbitration procedures. Department of the Navy, Naval Air Rework Facility, Alameda, California, A/SLMR No. 1089.

It is apparent that a deferral to arbitration takes place where there is a clear dispute as to the interpretation of the contract. In those instances, as stated by Judge Chaitovitz in the Social Security case, supra, where it is not clear that an arbitration could not resolve the dispute, the grievance and arbitration machinery must be utilized. However, I do not find that particular principle to be applicable to the case at bar. The dispute herein does not, as I view it, involve a matter of contract interpretation. In truth, Article 33 of the negotiated agreement makes no reference to the location whereat Step 4 grievance meetings should take place. It is difficult to accept the argument that Respondent's position involved a reasonable interpretation of Article 33 regarding the proper situs of the Step 4 grievance session. Since the contract is silent in this regard, and no language 9 is subject to differing interpretations, I cannot view the dispute herein as one which rests squarely on contract interpretation. Contrariwise, I conclude that the issue raised by the complaint rests upon a right guaranteed under the Act and independent of the collective bargaining agreement itself. Accordingly, I find no merit to the position advanced by Respondent that this matter, as a contract interpretation issue, should be handled through the grievance and arbitration process. 10 See Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, Fresno Service Center, A/SLMR No. 983. [ v11 p666 ]

(3) It is well established and an entrenched principle of law in the public sector that an employer may not unilaterally change working conditions during the term of an existing agreement. An obligation is imposed upon management to negotiate with the collective bargaining agent prior to making such changes. The Authority recognized that under Section 7103(a)(12) and 7114(a)(1) and (b) of the Act an employer is not only obligated to negotiate the agreement itself, but to refrain from instituting changes without affording the representative an opportunity to bargain thereon unless the bargaining agent has waived its rights. Department of the Air Force, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, 3 FLRA No. 2.

Respondent herein, without denying the applicable case law as aforesaid, contends that it did not effect a any change in working conditions. It insists no past practice existed of holding Step 4 meetings in San Francisco, but that such sessions took place at the grievants' post of duty. Further, Respondent urges that the site of such meetings is not a working condition, or a condition of employment, since it confers no benefit of personal value to an employee. Thus, it is argued no change occurred which is violative of the Act.

Record facts belie Respondent's insistence that no past practice existed in respect to the site where Fourth Step grievance meetings were held. It does appear that all such sessions between 1944 and March 21, 1980 - the date of the Step 4 meeting involved in this case - were located in San Francisco. While two such meetings were held outside San Francisco after March 21, 1980, I do not construe such incidents as bearing upon the past practice issue which is posed herein. I am satisfied from the record that, during the period referred to above, there was an established practice of holding Step 4 grievance meetings in San Francisco. This conclusion is buttressed by the fact that even where the grievant was located outside said city, as in Los Angeles, the session still took place in San Francisco and Respondent paid the travel expenses of the grievant.

Respondent further argues that the situs of the meeting may not properly be considered a condition of employment. Thus, it maintains any change in such locations could not run afoul of the Act. I reject this argument. In the same manner as it was provided under Executive Order 11491, as amended, there is a provision under Section 7121 for the inclusion of a grievance procedure in a collective bargaining agreement. This section also provides that such procedures assure the exclusive representative a right, on behalf of any employee, to present and process grievances. Within the framework of these procedures, it has been held that the parties may negotiate the amount of time used by union representative for representational activities as well as the procedures for the use of such time. See American Federation of Government Employees, AFL - CIO Local 2154 et. al. FLRC No. 78A-34 and cases cited therein. Conditions of employment thus include the use and implementation of grievance procedures at which the collective bargaining agent represents a grievant- employee. Nothing in the Act warrants the conclusion that the term "conditions of employment" and the procedures for holding grievance meetings - which must necessarily consider the place of such sessions - should be mutually exclusive. Accordingly, I conclude that setting the situs of such meetings is a part of the grievance procedure, which affects the individual employees and impinges upon their employment conditions. [ v11 p667 ]

On the basis of the foregoing I am constrained to conclude Respondent has, in fact, unilaterally changed its past practice of holding Step 4 grievance meetings in San Francisco, California, and that said Respondent has done so without negotiating this change the Union herein - all in violation of Sections 7116(a)(1) and (5) of the Act. Accordingly, I recommend the Authority adopt the following Order:

ORDER 11

Pursuant to Section 7118(a)(7) of the Federal Service Labor - Management Relations Statute the Section 2423.29 of the Rules and Regulations IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Internal Revenue Service, Western Region, San Francisco, California, shall:

1. Cease and desist from:

(a) Instituting any change in its established practice of holding Step 4 grievance meetings at San Francisco, California, without first notifying National Treasury Employees Union, the exclusive representative of its employees, and affording it the opportunity to meet and negotiate, to the extent consonant with law and regulations, on the decision to effectuate such change.

(b) In any like or related manner, interfering with, restraining, or coercing its employees in the exercise of their rights assured by the Federal Service Labor - Management Relations Status.

2. Take the following affirmative actions in order to effectuate the purpose and policies of the Federal Service Labor - Management Relations Statute:

(a) Notify National Treasury Employees Union of my intended decision to change the established practice of holding Step 4 grievance meetings at San Francisco, California, and, upon request, meet and negotiate, to the extent consonant with law and regulations, on the decision to effectuate such change.

(b) Make whole the representative of the National Treasury Employees Union for all reasonable expenses incurred by him to attend the Step 4 Loflin grievance meeting at Seattle, Washington in his official capacity as Union representative. [ v11 p668 ]

(c) Post at its facilities, Internal Revenue Service, Western Region, San Francisco, California, copies of the attached notice marked "Appendix" on forms to be furnished by the Federal Labor Relations Authority. Upon receipt of such forms they shall be signed by the Regional Commissioner, and they shall be posted for 60 consecutive days thereafter in conspicuous places, including all places where notices to employees are customarily posted. The Regional Commissioner shall take reasonable steps to insure that such notice are not altered, defaced or covered by any other material.

(d) Notify and Federal Labor Relations Authority in writing, within 30 days from the date of this Order, what steps have been taken to comply therewith.

WILLIAM NAIMARK
Administrative Law Judge

Dated: March 12, 1981
       Washington, D.C.

[ v11 p669 ]

APPENDIX

                            NOTICE OF ALL EMPLOYEES
                                  PURSUANT TO
                          A DECISION AND ORDER OF THE
                       FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY
                  AND IN ORDER TO EFFECTUATE THE POLICIES OF
                         CHAPTER 71 OF TITLE 5 OF THE
                              UNITED STATES CODE
                  FEDERAL SERVICE LABOR-MANAGEMENT RELATION
                     WE HEREBY NOTIFY OUR EMPLOYEES THAT:

WE WILL NOT institute any change in the established practice of holding Step 4 grievance meetings at San Francisco, California, without first notifying National Treasury Employees Union, the exclusive representative of unit employees, and affording it the opportunity to meet and negotiate, to the extent consonant with law and regulations, on the decision to effectuate such change.

WE WILL NOT in any like or related manner interfere with, restrain, or coerce any employees in the exercise of their rights assured by the Federal Service Labor - Management Relations Statute.

WE WILL notify the National Treasury employees Union of any intended decision to change the established practice of holding Step 4 grievance meetings at San Francisco, California, and, upon request, meet and negotiate, to the extent consonant with law and regulations, on the decision to effectuate such change.

WE WILL make whole the representative of the National Treasury Employees Union for all reasonable expenses incurred by him to attend the Step 4 Loflin grievance meeting at Seattle, Washington in his official capacity as union representative.

                                      _________________________
                                        (Agency or Activity)

Dated: __________________________ By: _________________________
                                            (Signature)

[ v11 p670 ]

This Notice must remain posted for 60 consecutive days from the date of posting, and must not be altered, defaced, or covered by any other material.

If employees have any question concerning this Notice or compliance with its provisions, they may communicate directly with the Regional Director of the Federal Labor Relations Authority, Region 9, whose address is: 450 Golden Gate Avenue, Room 11408, P.O. Box 36016, San Francisco, CA 94102 and whose telephone number is (415) 556-8105. [ v11 p671 ]

FOOTNOTES

Footnote 1 The Charging Party filed a motion to reopen the hearing in order to introduce additional evidence. In view of the disposition herein, the Authority finds it unnecessary to pass upon this motion.

Footnote 2 The apparent typographical error reference to 1944 at p. 3 in the Judge's decision is hereby corrected.

Footnote 3 See, e.g., Department of the Navy, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 5 FLRA No. 48 (1981); United States Department of Defense, Department of the Air Force, Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center, Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, 8 FLRA No. 126 (1982); U.S. Customs Service, Region V, New Orleans, Louisiana, 9 FLRA No. 15 (1982).

Footnote 4 Unless otherwise indicated, all dated hereinafter mentioned occur in 1980.

Footnote 5 Although objection was raised by the Union to the particular officer appointed to preside at Step 4 meetings, the compliant allegations are limited to changing the location of these meetings.

Footnote 6 On May 27 the Union filed a grievance regarding a proposed Step 4 meeting to be held in Phoenix on June 4 to be presided over by an off-site, out of the area representative. Arbitration was invoked in respect thereto.

Footnote 7 Certain exceptions not pertinent to this case are contained therein.

Footnote 8 In support of its argument that this is the proper method of resolution Respondent refers to the fact that (a) an arbitrator rendered a decision on June 15, 1976 regarding a dispute as to the selection of the official conducting the Step 4 grievance meeting, (b) the Union filed a grievance on April 27, 1980 regarding a scheduled Step 4 meeting to be held in Phoenix, Arizona on June 4, 1980. I do not agree. The earlier dispute concerned a different issue, i.e. the official designated to conduct the meeting; and the action by the Union in filing a grievance subsequent to this compliant has no relevance to a determination of the issue presented herein.

Footnote 9 cf. Social Security et. al.supra, where the core of the dispute concerned the meaning of the term "organizational location" set forth in the contract.

Footnote 10 The Respondent, in its brief, alludes to the Collyer doctrine enunciated by the National Labor Relations Board in 192 NLRB 837, which defers certain disputes to arbitration. Apart from the fact that I have concluded the dispute herein does not involve contract interpretation, it does not appear that the Federal Labor Relations Author