14:0150(28)RO - Army Medical Department Activity, Redstone Arsenal, AL and AFGE Local 1858 -- 1984 FLRAdec RP
[ v14 p150 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:
14 FLRA No. 28 U.S. ARMY MEDICAL DEPARTMENT ACTIVITY, REDSTONE ARSENAL, ALABAMA Activity and AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, LOCAL 1858, AFL-CIO Labor Organization/Petitioner Case No. 4-RO-20012 DECISION AND ORDER Upon a petition duly filed with the Authority under section 7111(b)(1) of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (the Statute), a hearing was held before a hearing officer of the Authority. The Authority has reviewed the rulings of the hearing officer made at the hearing and finds that they are free from prejudicial error. The rulings are hereby affirmed. Upon the entire record in this case, including the parties' contentions, the Authority finds: The Activity, the U.S. Army Medical Department Activity, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, employs about 190 civilian employees, largely in connection with its operation of the Fox Army Community Hospital. The Hospital, which is relatively small and essentially provides the services of an "acute minor injury" clinic, supplies inpatient and outpatient care to active and retired military personnel and their dependents and certain other persons authorized for care by the Department of the Army. Most of the Activity's civilian employees, its nonprofessionals and nonsupervisory nurses, are currently represented in units of exclusive recognition by the Petitioner. Twenty-three of the Activity's professional employees are not represented. Eleven of these employees are physicians. The remaining professionals include three pharmacists, one optometrist, a social worker, two industrial hygienists, four medical technologists, and an auditor. The Petitioner seeks to represent a unit which would only include the 11 physicians. The Activity opposes the petition on the basis that, in its view, such a unit would not conform to the criteria of section 7112(a)(1) of the Statute. /1/ It contends that the physicians should be included in a unit with the other professionals. /2/ The Authority concludes that a physicians-only unit would not be appropriate in the instant case. A relatively small number of physicians are involved, employed in various specialties. By the nature of their duties, which involve specialized work at a relatively small medical facility, they have as much contact with the other medical care professionals as they have with each other. Like the other professionals, they are GS employees. As such, they are generally subject to the same personnel regulations and statutes affecting their personnel policies, practices and working conditions as are the other professionals. With the other professionals, they work regular hours during regularly scheduled workweeks. The determination and administration of the physicians' working conditions and matters affecting their working conditions which are within the Activity's control are under the direction of management personnel who are not physicians. The same management personnel and the same management structure determine and administer the working conditions and matters affecting the working conditions of the other professionals. Complaints and grievances of the physicians regarding their working conditions are subject to administration and decision by management personnel who handle complaints and grievances of the other professionals. Although the physicians enjoy a great deal of independence and take initiative in the performance of their functions, by the nature of the Activity's facility and the small number of professionals involved, all of the professionals enjoy such independence. In practical effect, while all of the professionals are not equally involved with the physicians in the delivery of medical services, the professionals as a whole are engaged in a cooperative effort in furthering the Activty's mission of providing quality medical service and thus share a clear and identifiable community of interest. Finally, while the Petitioner has argued that the physicians must be considered as functionally distinct from the other professionals and it has shown that certain of the physicians have an interest in a separate unit, it has not shown that the inclusion of the physicians in a unit with the other professionals would disadvantage the physicians in collective bargaining. The Activity has established that its management structure and the provision of labor relations services by its host facility, the U.S. Army Missile Command at Redstone Arsenal, are better adapted to representation of the professionals in a combined unit, and that the separation of the professionals into two very small units of exclusive recognition would not promote effective dealings or efficiency of Activity operations, but would result in unwarranted unit fragmentation. See Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Food and Drug Administration, Bureau of Drugs, 11 FLRA No. 115(1983); Providence Veterans Administration Medical Center, Davis Park, Providence, Rhode Island, 11 FLRA No. 44(1983). Accordingly, the Authority concludes that the unit sought is not appropriate for exclusive recognition under section 7112(a)(1) of the Statute and therefore will order that the petition be dismissed.