12:0017(6)NG - AFGE Local 1923 and HHS, SSA -- 1983 FLRAdec NG



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12:0017(6)NG
The decision of the Authority follows:


 12 FLRA No. 6
 
 AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT
 EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO, LOCAL 1923
 Union
 
 and
 
 DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN
 SERVICES, SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
 Agency
 
                                            Case No. O-NG-452
 
                DECISION AND ORDER ON NEGOTIABILITY ISSUES
 
    The petition for review in this case comes before the Authority
 pursuant to section 7105(a)(2)(E) of the Federal Service
 Labor-Management Relations Statute (the Statute) and presents issues
 relating to the negotiability of the following two Union proposals
 concerned with Agency's "direct contact program."
 
                             Union Proposal 1
 
          Each employee working under the direct contact program shall be
       provided the proper materials and equipment to perform his/her
       duties.  Time lost due to unavailability of telephones or other
       needed facilities will not be charged to productive time, nor
       result in adverse impact on performance evaluations or employee
       conduct.
 
                             Union Proposal 2
 
          Employees will be expected to use direct contact procedures
       consistent with his/her level of development in the career ladder.
        Trainees in the first 2 steps of career ladders will be given
       time allowances to learn and implement direct contact procedures.
 
    Upon careful consideration of the entire record, including the
 parties' contentions, the Authority makes the following determinations.
 According to the Agency's uncontroverted description, the "direct
 contact program" addressed in the Union proposals involves direct
 contact by reviewing office employees with social security claimants
 when additional information is required to adjudicate claims.  Under
 this program, the reviewing employee first attempts to reach the
 claimant by the telephone.  If the claimant cannot be reached by
 telephone, or if, for any reason, a telephone is not immediately
 available to the reviewer, he or she is required to use direct mail
 contact instead.
 
    Union Proposal 1, however, would permit an employee to choose to wait
 for a telephone to become available instead of using direct mail contact
 without having such waiting time count in a determination of the
 quantity or timeliness of the employee's work product.
 
    Similarly, by requiring the Agency to provide certain trainees with
 "time allowances" in order "to learn and implement" the direct contact
 procedures, Union Proposal 2 would obligate the Agency, in effect, to
 grant extra time or not to count certain time in a determination of the
 quantity and timeliness of the employee's work product.
 
    Therefore, as these two proposals would require negotiation of the
 cont