14:0019(3)NG - NFFE Local 108 and Agriculture, Arkansas State Office of the Farmers Home Administration -- 1984 FLRAdec NG
[ v14 p19 ]
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 concluded that the Agency has not declared the proposal nonnegotiable. See Association of Civilian Technicians and State of Georgia, Department of Defense, Military Division, Atlanta, Georgia, 3 FLRA 686(1980), wherein the union's petition was dismissed because the agency stated that it had never determined the proposal at issue to be nonnegotiable. Accordingly, pursuant to section 2424.10 of the Authority's Rules and Regulations, IT IS ORDERED that the Union's petition for review be, and it hereby is, dismissed. Issued, Washington, D.C., February 6, 1984 Barbara J. Mahone, Chairman Ronald W. Haughton, Member Henry B. Frazier III, Member FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY --------------- FOOTNOTES$ --------------- /1/ The record herein consists of the Union's petition for review and the Agency's determination of nonnegotiability.