14:0019(3)NG - NFFE Local 108 and Agriculture, Arkansas State Office of the Farmers Home Administration -- 1984 FLRAdec NG



[ v14 p19 ]
14:0019(3)NG
The decision of the Authority follows:


 14 FLRA No. 3
 
 NATIONAL FEDERATION OF
 FEDERAL EMPLOYEES, LOCAL 108
 Union
 
 and
 
 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE,
 ARKANSAS STATE OFFICE OF THE
 FARMERS HOME ADMINISTRATION
 Agency
 
                                            Case No. O-NG-526
 
                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 raises issues
 concerning the negotiability of 14 Union proposals.  Upon careful
 consideration of the entire record, including the parties' contentions,
 /1/ the Authority makes the following determinations.
 
    It appears that the Union's proposals respond to a management plan to
 change the position classification series of certain bargaining unit
 employees, designated as "COA's", and to make them subject to a new
 standardized position description.  In this connection, the Union states
 that implementation of the new position description "will greatly
 increase the workload on the COA's" and, in some instances, will result
 in some employees performing technical duties.
 
    For convenience of discussion, the Union's proposals have been
 grouped together in this decision by subject matter:
 
                     (1) Proposals Concerning Training
 
    (A) In order to perform the tasks outlined, we are requesting the
 following:
 
          1.  Training be given the COA's in processing and servicing
       activities in accordance with FmHA procedures.
 
          2.  A three day training seminar be held by a professional on
       drafting news releases and giving presentations to groups.
       Further, this training would be made available prior to the COA
       performing these functions.
 
    (B) Disposition of delinquent cases and carrying out collection
 activities through telephone and personal contacts and advising
 borrowers of their rights and interest credit is an added duty.
 Training of at least three days by State Office personnel in the area of
 Farmer Program and Rural Housing prior to performing duties.
 
    (C) A one day training to prepare the COA to represent the County
 supervisor at meetings with borrowers, contractors or other interested
 parties.  (If this duty is to include discussing construction contracts,
 etc., more time should be required for training.)
 
    (D) Special delegations which include countersigning borrower checks,
 checks for the use of loan funds, release of security property and lien
 searches would require training in the use of farm plans, construction
 contracts security and legal documents, and terms found on lien
 searches.
 
          1.  A two day training session by a professional in legal
       terminology sufficient to understand deeds, liens, title searches
       bankruptcy proceedings and the processing of legal instruments and
       supporting documents particular to loan making.
 
    (E) New COA's with little or no knowledge of FmHA procedures and
 policy should receive two weeks formal training as soon as employed plus
 other training in specific areas as outlined for the experienced COA's.
 
    (F) Implementation data-- for new duties, would be effective as soon
 as training is received by each COA.  Series established duties changed
 after training required for special areas is received only.
 
    (G) COA's who are GS-4 should receive the "special" training where
 and if when (sic) promoted to 1101 Series.  (The bracketed letters
 preceding each proposal have been assigned for convenience of
 identification.)
 
    These training proposals are to the same effect as the portion of a
 proposal requiring management to assign formal training to employees to
 enable them to perform in a position "of equivalent significance and
 grade value" in American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO,
 Local 1923 and Department of Health and Human Services, Social Security
 Administration, 9 FLRA No. 122(1982), which the Authority found to be
 inconsistent with management's right under section 7106(a)(2)(B) of the
 Statute "to assign work." Hence, based on Social Security
 Administration, and the reasons and cases cited therein, these proposals
 which would require the Agency to provide certain specified training are
 also outside the duty to bargain.
 
    Further, the Union proposal designated (F) would condition the
 assignment of new duties upon completion of the prescribed training.
 Thus proposal (F), by imposing a condition upon the assignment of work
 to employees, is to the same effect as Union Proposal 1, requiring
 employees performing in a substandard manner to be assigned other work
 at the same grade level before adverse action could be taken, in
 American Federation of Government Employees, Local 1760 and Department
 of Health and Human Services, Social Security Administration, Northeast
 Program Service Center, 9 FLRA No. 142(1982), which the Authority found
 to be nonnegotiable because it conditioned "the exercise of one
 (management) right upon the prior exercise of the other in a prescribed
 manner." Similarly, proposal (F) herein would condition management's
 exercise of its section 7106(a)(2)(B) right to assign work upon its
 prior exercise of that same right by requiring that training be assigned
 before new duties are performed.  Thus, proposal (F) is nonnegotiable
 for the reasons stated in Social Security Administration, Northeast
 Program Service Center.
 
                   (2) Proposal Concerning Work Backlog
 
          If the COA, as a result of added duties, has a backlog of work
       the County Supervisor will aid in handling of all duties in the
       County Office.  All Supervisors will be instructed of their
       responsibilities in writing in providing this office assistance.
 
    This proposal, requiring that, where a backlog exists, supervisors
 will be assigned the excess work, is to the same effect as Union
 Proposal VII, requiring the assignment of specified duties to a
 designated employee, in National Treasury Employees Union and Department
 of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, 6 FLRA 508(1981), which the
 Authority found was inconsistent with management's right under section
 7106(a)(2)(B) of the Statute "to assign work." Thus, for the reasons
 detailed in Internal Revenue Service, the Union proposal herein is
 outside the duty to bargain.
 
                  (3) Proposals Concerning Career Ladder
 
          In accordance with a memorandum dated April 15, 1971, Page 2,
       Paragraph 4, we would want a team of 2 Union and 2 Nonunion
       members to develop a specific career ladder to coincide with this
       job description.  This panel should meet to establish this as soon
       as the Position is implemented.
 
          Some offices have no promotion potential within their county--
       a career ladder is needed to cover these.
 
                 (4) Proposals Concerning Smaller Offices
 
          In some counties, it would not be possible for the COA to
       follow the job description because of the size of the office
       force, i.e., offices where there is a COA only or a COA and one EM
       COC.  This COA would be placed in the position of doing all the
       basic clerical duties, answering the phone, receiving the public,
       preparing and closing loans, plus all additional duties as
       delegated by the County Supervisor and her Position Description.
       These COA's are thus working on a level almost fully technical.
 
          It is suggested that small work force offices be given special
       attention to insure the COA is not penalized for not getting as
       much clerical or "other duties" as could be expected by the County
       Supervisor.
 
    The Authority finds that the purpose and effect of the proposed
 language is not sufficiently specific and delimited so as to allow for a
 negotiability determination.  In this regard, the proposals concerning
 career ladder do not, among other things, specify the scope of the
 proposed team's authority to establish career ladders or explain the
 extent of the Agency's obligation in creating such career ladders for
 COA's.  The first proposal concerning smaller offices, merely describes
 an office situation.  The second proposal, requiring the Agency to give
 "special attention" to COA's in small offices, does not prescribe
 specific actions to be encompassed in that "special attention," other
 than insuring in some manner that the COA "is not penalized." Hence,
 these proposals are not sufficiently specific and delimited to provide
 the authority with a basis upon which to determine their negotiability.
 See Association of Civilian Technicians, Alabama ACT and State of
 Alabama National Guard, 2 FLRA 314(1979).
 
                 (5) Proposal Governing Employee Selection
 
          Employees who meet minimum qualifications for newly classified
       jobs with their present location will have first choice over any
       incoming personnel.  They will be given training to qualify for
       available positions at current location.  GS-4.
 
    The first sentence of this proposal is to the same effect as Union
 Proposal 1, which likewise required management to select certain
 employees when it chose to fill certain positions, in National
 Association of Government Employees, Local R14-52 and Department of the
 Army, Red River Army Depot, Texarkana, Texas, 9 FLRA No. 148(2982).  The
 Authority determined that the proposal in the cited case was
 inconsistent with the agency's authority under section 7106(a)(2)(C) of
 the Statute to make selections for appointments from promotion
 certificates or from any other appropriate source.  Hence, based on the
 reasons set forth in Red River Army Depot, the first sentence of the
 proposal herein, governing employee selection, is outside the duty to
 bargain.  The second sentence would require that training to enhance
 qualifications be given to the specified employees.  This portion of the
 proposal is essentially the same as the proposals concerning training
 addressed earlier in this decision.  Therefore, for the reasons
 previously stated, the second sentence of this proposal also violates
 management's section 7106(a)(2)(B) right "to assign work" and is
 therefore outside the duty to bargain.
 
    As to a final proposal concerning performance appraisals, included in
 the Union's petition for review, it appears that when the proposal was
 submitted the Agency responded as follows:  "On the matter of
 Performance Appraisal, you suggested and we agreed that this matter
 could wait for the negotiation on August 17, 1981." In the absence of
 any further information on the record, it is conc