14:0201(42)CA - Transportation, FAA, Oakland Air Route Traffic Control Center, Fremont, CA and Western Region, Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization, MEBA, Oakland, CA -- 1984 FLRAdec CA
[ v14 p201 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:
14 FLRA No. 42 DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION OAKLAND AIR ROUTE TRAFFIC CONTROL CENTER, FREMONT, CALIFORNIA Respondent and WESTERN REGION, PROFESSIONAL AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS ORGANIZATION, AFL-CIO, MEBA, OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA Charging Party Case No. 9-CA-581 DECISION AND ORDER The Administrative Law Judge issued the attached Decision in the above-entitled proceeding, finding that the Respondent had engaged in the unfair labor practice alleged in the complaint and recommending that it be ordered to cease and desist therefrom and take certain affirmative action. Thereafter, the Respondent filed exceptions to the Judge's Decision, and the General Counsel filed exceptions, an opposition to the Respondent's exceptions, and a motion to strike certain portions of the Respondent's brief in support of exceptions. /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, conclusions, and recommendations only to the extent consistent herewith. /2/ The Judge concluded that the Respondent violated section 7116(a)(1) of the Statute /3/ by virtue of disparaging remarks about the employees' exclusive representative at that time, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (the Union), made by Erwin Buschauer, Chief of the Oakland Air Route Traffic Control Center, on a radio interview broadcast to the public. In so concluding, the Judge rejected the Respondent's defense that Buschauer's statements were protected by section 7116(e) of the Statute. /4/ The Authority disagrees. As we have previously held, outside of the context of representation elections (where management's neutrality is required), section 7116(e) protects the expression of personal views, arguments, or opinions by management, employees, or union representatives as long as such expression contains no threat of reprisal or force or promise of benefit or is not made under coercive conditions. See, e.g., Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center (AFLC), Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, 6 FLRA No. 32(1981). The Authority finds that Buschauer's statements herein were not violative of the Statute. Thus, the Authority finds that Buschauer's statements during a radio interview, while critical of the Union, contained no threat of reprisal or force or promise of benefit and were not made under coercive conditions, and, therefore, under section 7116(e) cannot "constitute an unfair labor practice under any provision of (the Statute)." In so finding, the Authority notes, as did the Judge, that Buschauer's comments were made in the general context of a heated and vigorous debate between the Respondent and the Union in the media and before Congress on the subject of air safety. In our view, the comments therefore could have been reasonably understood by the general public and the employees to be part of a robust public debate rather than as a threat. Moreover, while strongly stated, Buschauer's remarks on their face neither contained any threat against the Union or those employees who supported it nor any promise of benefits to employees who chose to withhold such support. Further, we find that remarks made during a radio broadcast with no unit employees present were not made under coercive conditions. Accordingly, the Authority concludes that the General Counsel has failed to establish that Buschauer's statements interfered with, restrained, or coerced any employees in their exercise of any right under the Statute in violation of section 7116(a)(1) of the Statute. /5/ The complaint shall, therefore, be dismissed in its entirety. ORDER IT IS ORDERED that the complaint in Case No. 9-CA-581 be, and it hereby is, dismissed. Issued, Washington, D.C., April 6, 1984 Barbara J. Mahone, Chairman Ronald W. Haughton, Member Henry B. Frazier III, Member FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY -------------------- ALJ$ DECISION FOLLOWS -------------------- DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION OAKLAND AIR ROUTE TRAFFIC CONTROL CENTER, FREMONT, CALIFORNIA Respondent and WESTERN REGION, PROFESSIONAL AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS ORGANIZATION, AFL-CIO, MEBA OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA Charging Party Case No.: 9-CA-581 /6/ Fritz E. Sperling, Attorney for Respondent Domenic Torchia, Vice President of Charging Party Nancy E. Pritikin, Attorney for the General Counsel Federal Labor Relations Authority Before: ISABELLE R. CAPPELLO Administrative Law Judge DECISION This is a proceeding under the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (hereinafter referred to as the "Statute"), 92 Stat. 1191, Chapter 71 of the Title 5 U.S.C. 7101, et. seq., and the rules and regulations issued thereunder and published in 45 Fed.Reg. 3482-3524 (1/17/80), 5 CFR 2421 et seq. Pursuant to a Charge filed on July 10, 1980, by the Western Regional Vice-President of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Association (hereinafter, "PATCO West", or the "Union"), a Complaint and Notice of Hearing was issued on September 29, 1980, and amended on November 21, 1980, by the Regional Director, Region IX, of the Federal Labor Relations Authority (hereinafter, the "Authority"). The Complaint in Case No. 9-CA-581 alleges that Oakland Air Control Center, /7/ of the Federal Aviation Administration (hereinafter, "FAA" or the "Respondent"), by the chief of the named FAA facility, Erwin Buschauer, /8/ made disparaging comments concerning PATCO West in a news broadcast, and thereby violated Section 7116(a)(1) of the Statute. /9/ Respondent does not deny that the statements were made by the chief of the facility and broadcast; but it claims that the statements did not constitute a violation of Section 7116(a)(1), and were merely the expression of personal views permitted by Section 7116(e) of the Statute. /10/ A hearing was held on February 6, 1981, at San Francisco, CA, at which the parties were given a full opportunity to be heard and present evidence. Briefs were submitted by the Respondent, on March 25, 1981, and by the General Counsel, on March 27, 1981. Based upon the record made in this proceeding, my observation of the witnesses and their demeanor, and the briefs, the following findings, conclusions, and recommended order are made. Findings of Fact /11/ 1. Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization ("PATCO") is the exclusive bargaining agent for certain of Respondent's employees, including air traffic controllers, and is a party to a collective bargaining agreement with Respondent. Negotiations are about to start on a new agreement. PATCO West is the Western Region of PATCO. 2. In a radio interview that was taped and broadcast in San Francisco on June 24, Erwin Buschauer, the chief of the facility here involved, made certain statements about PATCO. The broadcast was in two segments. A copy of the tape was received into evidence as Joint Exhibit 1, and is as follows: 1st Segment THE FOLLOWING IS FROM KCBS, IT RUNS 54 SECONDS, THE BROADCASTER IS RONALD DATIN WOLF, THE OUT CUE - CBS NEWS, SAN FRANCISCO. THE TAPE IN 5. KCBS - FREMONT, CALIFORNIA AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL OFFICIALS SAY THE COMPUTER FAILURES IN THE LAST MONTH ARE BEING OVERBLOWN, AND FOR A REASON. CHIEF CONTROLLER ERWIN BUSCHAUER SAYS PATCO (PROFESSIONAL AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLS ORGANIZATION) IS USING THE RECENT SYSTEM FAILURES HERE AND AT CHICAGO'S O'HARE AIRPORT TO FURTHER THEIR OWN INTERESTS AND RIP OFF THE TAXPAYERS. ALTHOUGH REFUSING TO BE SPECIFIC WHEN ASKED TO EXPLAIN THE BASIS FOR HIS ACCUSATIONS, BUSCHAUER SAID . . . BUSCHAUER - "I CAN'T, I'D HAVE TO RESIGN AND CALL A PRESS CONFERENCE TO TELL YOU THE TRUTH, BUT THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS, THAT THERE ARE MOTIVES HERE FAR BEYOND AND APART FROM AVIATION SAFETY. IT'S A CAREFULLY ORCHESTRATED LITTLE SYMPHONY AND IT HAS TO DO WITH THE PUBLIC AND RIPPING THE PUBLIC OFF AND THAT'S ALL I'M GOING TO SAY RIGHT NOW." KCBS - THE QUESTION IS DOES THIS HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH HIGHER WAGES? BUSCHAUER REPLIED . . . Buschauer - ". . . It sure as hell does." KCBS - THE FREMONT CENTER HANDLES ALL THE AIR TRAFFIC IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA AND NEVADA. RONALD DATIN WOLF FOR CBS NEWS IN SAN FRANCISCO. 2d Segment KCBS - THE HEAD OF THE FREMONT, CALIFORNIA AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL CENTER, WHICH HANDLES ALL AIR TRAFFIC IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA AND NEVADA SAYS THE PROFESSIONAL AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS ORGANIZATION (PATCO) IS USING RECENT COMPUTER FAILURES AT BOTH THE FREMONT CENTER AND AT CHICAGO'S O'HARE AIRPORT TO FURTHER THEIR OWN INTEREST IN A LABOR DISPUTE. CHIEF CONTROLLER, ERWIN BUSCHAUER CHARGES PATCO WITH OVERBLOWING THE WHOLE SITUATION AS A PART OF WHAT HE CALLS A CAREFULLY ORCHESTRATED SYMPHONY SEPARATE FROM AIR TRAFFIC SAFETY. DOES THAT MEAN HIGHER WAGES? BUSCHAUER REPLIES . . . Buschauer - ". . . It sure as hell does." KCBS - BUSCHAUER SAYS THE PROBLEM HAS BEEN DISCOVERED AND SOLVED, AND HE'S BEGINNING TO GET A LITTLE IRRITATED AT MUCH ADO OVER NOTHING. HE INSISTS THE BACKUP SYSTEM, WHEN NEEDED, IS COMPLETELY SAFE. AF FOR PATCO, HE SAYS . . . BUSCHAUER - "I WAS AN AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER FOR FOURTEEN (14) YEARS WHEN WE REALLY WERE CONCERNED ABOUT SAFETY, THEY'RE MORE CONCERNED ABOUT POLITICS TODAY, AS AN ORGANIZATION. INDIVIDUAL CONTROLLERS ARE MAGNIFICENT, THEY'RE WONDERFUL, BUT THEIR ORGANIZATION IS SOMETHING ELSE." KCBS - SO FAR PATCO HAS BEEN UNAVAILABLE FOR COMMENT. RONALD DATIN WOLF FOR CBS NEWS, SAN FRANCISCO. 3. An air traffic controller, Charles Loren /12/ Mullick, when he heard a portion of the broadcast, called the radio station and questioned the broadcaster. The broadcaster gave him a copy of the taped broadcast. Mr. Mullick then took the tape to the facility of Respondent and played it for a number of employees, during breaks. Mr. Mullick is the Director of Public Relations for PATCO West. He played the tape for the employees at the facility because he "felt that the people who worked at the Oakland Air Route Traffic Control Center should be informed about what the Facility Chief thinks of them." (TR 13). 4. The Vice President of Local No. 503, PATCO West, located at the Oakland, CA, Center, heard the taped radio broadcast at work and discussed the tape, at length, with bargaining-unit employees. Four or five employees asked her about the tape; and she played it for them. She wanted them to be prepared in case people asked questions about the broadcast. 5. Before making his broadcast statements, Mr. Buschauer read a newspaper report dated June 15 and headlined "Shocking reports on FAA and air safety." (R1) The article included comments about an impending Congressional investigation, that "a lot of anonymous phone calls (were) coming in (to a Congressman's office) from worried air controllers," and that "a lot of people out in the country are very willing to talk." (R1.2). Congressman Burton was quoted as saying that, because of "possible reprisals by the FAA," he was offering anonymity - "even if we have to disguise the individual witness." (R1.2). 6. Mr. Buschauer did not deny making the statements aired over the radio station. He knew he made them to a reporter. I do not credit his denial, that "the views (he) expressed to the KCBS interviewer represent(ed) agency policy," (TR 51) or his testimony, that he was just expressing his "personal opinion." (TR 67). His job, as chief of the facility involved (Exh. 1(f) and (g)), is to "ensure that the policies of FAA and the Western Region and carried out by the Oakland Center" (TR 52). He obviously was contacted by the media because of his position. He admitted, to the interviewer, that he could not be more forthright, without resigning (finding 2, above), an indication that what he did say, he was saying in his official capacity. 7. Respondent admits that the FAA-PATCO dispute over air safety is one of "long-standing and agency-wide in scope;" that Mr. Buschauer's statements were "but one small part of a continuing dialogue which has involved participants at every level of both union and agency organizations, including the National President of the union and the FAA Administrator;" and the "the debate in the media and before the Congress has been heated and vigorous." (RBr 6). 8. Back in May 1979, PATCO developed a program aimed at publicizing aviation safety problems through media contacts. 9. Mr. Buschauer acknowledges that PATCO is concerned with aviation safety, but he believes that the June activity over safety concerned "a plan to strike and to use aviation safety to gain public support for such a strike." (TR 65). 10. The June activity over aviation safety concerned computer outages which occurred on June 17 and June 22. One outage lasted for 77 minutes. The media called Mr. Buschauer within minutes of the outage and had detailed knowledge of it. The wire services picked up the story, shortly thereafter, and for the next few days, Mr. Buschauer was interviewed by all of the local television stations, and by a number of radio stations, as far away as New York City. The gist of the interviews was that "it was scary; it's frightening and it's dangerous." (TR 47). Mr. Buschauer defined the role of FAA as being, among other things, "to foster aviation . . ." (TR 47). he felt it was "a little counterproductive to frighten people out of utilizing an industry that (FAA employees) are there to support." (TR 47). In interviewing him, "the press" informed him "that PATCO had informed them of various safety concerns, certain computer failures, and in several instances identified Loren Mullick to (him) as their source." (TR 49). 11. Mr. Buschauer testified that PATCO was overblowing the situation, in several respects: (a) Statistically, FAA computer failures were down approximately 60 percent over the 4 preceding years; and 1980 was the safest year on record. (b) One of the newspaper articles read by Mr. Buschauer refers to the Fremont Center, controlling Northern California - Nevada traffic, as operating with only 267 controllers out of 328 authorized, and with only 109 being fully trained. (R 1). Mr. Buschauer testified that the 109 figure was "90 short of the truth." (TR 50-51). (The article does not say that PATCO furnished these figures.) (c) Mr. Buschauer also testified that PATCO allegations, about no training on the computer back-up system, were "not true." (TR 51). He testified that there is "a refresher training program to keep the controllers reasonably current on that system." (TR 51). 12. Congressional interest was aroused over air safety; and on June 30 and August 15 hearings were held before the Subcommittee of the Committee on Government Operations, house of Representatives. A copy of the testimony taken at the hearings is in evidence. See GC 2. FAA and PATCO officials testified at the hearings. 13. A United States Senate staff report on FAA's En Route Air Traffic Control Computer System was issued, in October, that was critical of FAA's ability to "assure the air safety of the traveling public until (a) proposed replacement system (for a computerized air traffic control system) is operational." (GC 3. 4). 14. On July 15, Mr. Buschauer set up a group to investigate system outages "(b)ecause we have experienced an unusual amount of lengthy computer outages in the past six weeks." (GC 4. 1). The report issued by the group was critical of FAA procedures, organization, and equipment, including the "excessive" time taken to restore some of the computer outages. (GC 5. 2). One of the group's recommendations was for increased training of controllers on back-up systems. (GC 5. 2. 9). The group recommended that training at the Oakland Center be immediate. (GC 5. 22). 15. At the Congressional hearings, held on June 30, on air traffic control computer failures, Congressman Whittaker testified: "It is also alarming that FAA employees speak out, attempting to bring potential hazards to the attention of the public, they are disciplined by the very agency that is set up to maintain and insure air safety." (GC 2. 34). 16. At the Congressional hearing on August 15, Domenic Torchia, a PATCO official, testified that: "FAA has taken great liberty to convince the Members of Congress and the public that PATCO is here because we want to enhance our labor position when negotiating a contract." (GC 2. 428). 17. At the hearing held in this case, Mr. Torchia denied that PATCO contacted the media regarding safety issues in order to better the union's position in collective bargaining negotiations. I credit this testimony. The chief of the facility here involves admits that PATCO is concerned about air safety. There were genuine problems with air safety at the time Mr. Buschauer made the statements here at issue. PATCO developed a program for publicizing air safety problems back in May 1979. Aside from Mr. Buschauer's assertions, there is no record evidence that PATCO was publicizing safety problems to better its collective bargaining interests. 18. A PATCO West official testified that, after the broadcast of Mr. Buschauer's statements, Mr. Buschauer told him that he (Mr. Buschauer) had "screwed up" and "blown his cool," in regard to the broadcast, and asked the official "to sort of downplay the incident." (TR 71-72). Mr. Buschauer acknowledged that he made such comments, "essentially as (the official) represented it." (TR 81). Mr. Buschauer admitted that he was "angry over the issue," when he made the statements. (TR 81). Issues 1. Whether disparaging statements made public by the head of a facility about the exclusive representative of facility employees constitute an interference with employee rights protected by the Statute in Section 7116(a)(1). 2. Whether the free speech provisions of Section 7116(e) are limited to representational situations. 3. If not, whether the statements here at issue fall within the free speech protection of Section 7116(e). Discussion and Conclusions 1. The disparaging statements at issue violated Section 7116(a)(1) rights. A Section 7116(a)(1) violation has two elements-- a protected right; and an interference with, restraint, or coercion of an employee in the exercise of that right. Respondent argues that the General Counsel failed to sustain his burden of proof on either element. (RBr 3). The General Counsel argues that statements to bargaining unit employees which disparage and show disdain for the exclusive representative have the effect of interfering with employee rights, by discouraging employees from exercising their rights under the Statute. (GCBr 4). Several examples are given. When the exclusive representative is deemed to be dishonest and unworthy, or unable to pursue and protect the interests of the bargaining unit, employees in the unit will be dissuaded from seeking union assistance when a problem arises. When attacks are made by an agency on the motives of employees acting on behalf of their labor organization, these employees are chilled in freely expressing legitimate concerns of the union. Disparaging remarks by an agency undermine the confidence of the bargaining-unit employees in the ability of their exclusive representative to act on their behalf. (GC 5). Precedent supporting the General Counsel's position is found in cases decided under Executive Order 11491, which controlled Federal labor-Management relations prior to enactment of the Statute and which, in Sections 1 and 19(a)(1) had provisions comparable to those here at issue. /13/ A union steward told to shut up until spoken to, in the presence of other employees at a meeting called by management to discuss a management policy of concern to employees, was an action held to constitute an unfair labor practice in U.S. Army Headquarters, U.S. Army Training Center, Infantry, Fort Jackson Laundry Facility, Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and Local 1909, American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, A/SLMR No. 242, 3 A/SLMR 60(1973). Another unfair labor practice was found when a supervisor, dealing with a "profane," "contentious" and difficult union steward, called the steward a "troublemaker," threatened the steward with physical harm, and invited the steward to hit him, all in front of other employees, and in connection with a grievance matter. See U.S. Department of Agriculture, Ozark-- St. Francis National Forests, Russellville, Arkansas, and Local 1075, National Federation of Federal Employees, A/SLMR No. 977, 8 A/SLMR 135(1978). The rationale of these cases, though factually distinguishable, is applicable to the instant situation. Here, the remarks were broadcast publicly, to an audience that included employees, their family and acquaintances. The exclusive representative of the employees was castigated and demeaned by the head of the facility where the employees work. The statements had a chilling effect on employees' protected rights. Employees would not feel free to join an organization publicly held up to be dishonest in motive. They would not feel free to seek its assistance in grievance procedures. They would lose confidence in the ability of their exclusive representative to bargain effectively on their behalf with an agency holding it in such low regard. They would not feel as free to express their views to Congress. See Section 7116(a)(1) quoted above, in footnote 4. Respondent also relies on cases arising under Section 19(a)(1) of Executive Order 11491, which hold that consideration must be given to the entire circumstances surrounding the making of the communications in determining whether employees were interfered with, restrained, or coerced in the exercise of protected rights. In one, Internal Revenue Service, Mid-Atlantic Service Center, A/SLMR No. 421(1974) no violation was found where no union animus was shown and the communications reflected only an overriding desire to solve food-service problems at the agency. The "entire circumstances" here have been considered, and found to be quite different. Mr. Buschauer's statements show considerable union animus. While his statements may have been "designed to reassure the public," (RBr 5), Mr. Buschauer obviously and admittedly, "screwed up," "bl(ew) his cool," and overreached into an unfair labor practice when his designs gave way to attacks on PATCO. Respondent also relies on Department of the Navy, Naval Air Station, Fallow, Nevada, FLRA No. 74-80, Published in Number 87 of the Report of Case Decisions of the Federal Labor Relations Council, dated November 14, 1975. In that decision interference with a protected right was found when the station's commanding officer posted a letter he wrote to the union president on bulletin boards throughout the station. The letter criticized the union president's tactics and statements during bargaining sessions. The Council held that "direct communications necessarily tend to undermine the status of the exclusive representative in violation of the Order." See page 5 of the Council decision. A somewhat similar situation occurred here, when broadcast statements included disparaging remarks about PATCO's motives in speaking out on air-safety concerns. Another "circumstance" relied upon by Respondent is the fact that the PATCO-FAA "dispute" relating to air traffic problems is "long standing and agency-wide in scope," (RBr 6) a statement which is supported by the record. (See, e.g. GC 2, 102-109. 35-38). But the record does not support Respondent's assertion that "employees within the bargaining unit have (,therefore,) grown quite accustomed to the on-going debate." (RBr 5). The record shows that some union officials have grown "quite accustomed" to it; but not that employees generally and, particularly, new employees, who have not yet decided to join or avail themselves of the assistance of their exclusive representative, have grown accustomed to it, so that the broadcast remarks would not have undermined their respect and confidence in PATCO. Respondent also points to the record evidence which proved only that one employee actually heard the broadcast, and that the Union itself played the tape to the rest of the employees. Just how many employees may have actually heard the broadcast cannot be fathomed from the record. And the fact that the Union played the tape to Respondent's employees does not estop it from charging an unfair labor practice, for the Union had a legitimate reason for playing the tapes of disparaging statements broadcast to the public. Employees were asking union officials about the broadcast. By listening to the tapes, the employees were in a better position to respond to any inquiries they might be subjected to by members of the broadcast audience questioning the bona fides of their exclusive representative. Respondent relies upon one case where an employee was reprimanded for disseminating an internal agency communication to the public (Federal Aviation Administration, Las Vegas, Nevada, A/SLMR 796(1976) and another where an employee was discharged for publishing "intemperate and defamatory lampoons about his superiors (Meehan v Macy, 392 F.2d 822 (CA DC, 1968)). These cases hold that there is no protected right of employees to present their views to the public. This decision is not based upon there being any such right. 2. The free speech provisions of Section 7116(e) are not limited to representational cases. In a decision handed down after the briefs in this case were filed, the Authority discussed the legislative history of Section 7116(e) and concluded that the Section should be read as follows: Thus, section 7116(e) provides that: The expression of any personal view, argument, opinion . . . shall not, if the expression contains no threat of reprisal or force or promise of benefit or was not made under coercive conditions . . . constitute an unfair labor practice . . . As to representation elections, section 7116(e) provides that: (T)he making of any statement which-- (1) publicizes the fact of a representational election and encourages employees to exercise their right to vote in such election, (2) corrects the record with respect to any false or misleading statement made by any person, or (3) informs employees of the Government's policy relating to labor-management relations and representation, shall not, if the expression contains no threat of reprisal or force or promise of benefit or was not made under coercive conditions . . . constitute an unfair labor practice . . . or . . . constitute grounds for the setting aside of any election . . . See page 6 of the decision in Department of the Air Force, Air Force Representation Office, Detachment 27, Fort Worth, Texas and AFGE, et al, 5 FLRA No. 62(4/17/81), which involved an election situation. The discussion of the free-speech provisions, during the legislative process, did focus on election situations. See Legislative History of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute, Title VII of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, Committee Print No. 96-7, 96th Congress, 1st Session (11/19/79), pages 95, 585, 824, 996, 1021, 1023, 1025, 1026, 1027, 1028, 1033, 1034, 1035, 1046 and 1047. Nevertheless, the language chosen by Congress does not specifically limit the free-speech provisions to representational situations, as the General Counsel urges. (RBr 7-8). See Section 7116(e), quoted in footnote 5, above. And, as read by the Authority, the language would apply in non-election situations. No rationale for so circumscribing the free-speech provisions is apparent. And, in a country where free speech is so prized, limitations on it should not be read into statutes unless clearly warranted by their language or legislative history. No such warrant is present here. Several other Administrative Law Judges have also concluded that Section 7116(e) is not limited to representational situations. See page 15 of the decision in Norfolk Naval Shipyard, et. al, Case Nos. 3-CA-63, 20, 21 and 456, decided on June 6, 1980, by Chief Judge John H. Fenton, holding that the free-speech provisions extend to picketing situations. See also pages 19-21 of the decision in Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center Tinker Air Force Base, Case No. 6-CA-175, decided on May 23, 1980, by Judge William B. Devaney, holding that the free-speech provisions apply to an expression of a union's worth to employees seeking advice on joining it, and to asking an employee whether he knew union dues were increasing. I concur in their interpretations. 3. Mr. Buschauer's statements do not fall within the protection of Section 7116(e). Section 7116(e) is restricted to the expression of a "personal view, argument, opinion." See quotation of Section 7116(e) in footnote 5, above, emphasis added. In this case, the views and opinions expressed by Mr. Buschauer, were expressed in his official capacity and while carrying out FAA policies. They were, admittedly, "but one small part" of a heated dispute between FAA and PATCO being carried on at the highest levels. (RBr 6). They may have also been the personal views of Mr. Buschauer; but when they are also an expression of agency views, they are not protected as free speech, under the Statute. The statements also are not protected because they were made under "coercive conditions." They were made only six days before the commencement of Congressional hearings on air traffic problems. Mr. Buschauer had reason to believe, from reading a newspaper article introduced into evidence as Respondent's Exhibit 1, that a lot of worried air controllers were willing to talk to Congress. Under these circumstances, giving the media derogatory statements about the motive of their exclusive representative, at this time, was clearly coercive. In fact, PATCO officials gave extensive testimony at the hearings that appeared to be quite open and frank. See e.g. GC 2. 4-10. 102-249. 399-455. Nevertheless, the broadcast statements may have restrained those Union officials, to some degree, and scared away other FAA employees who might have otherwise chosen to act for PATCO and "freely . . . present the views of the labor organization to . . . Congress." In any event, the success or failure in coercing a bargaining-unit employee is not determinative. Cf. Department of the Army, Fort Bragg Schools, et al, 3 FLRA No. 57 (1980). Respondent argues that the statements were not coercive because they were not "directed to employees; rather they were designed to reassure the public." (RBr 5). They may have been "designed" to reassure the public. But, as executed, they gave the public little reassurance, indeed no specific facts at all, and focused instead on allegations about PATCO's deceptive and dishonest motives. As to the audience to which the statements were beamed, it would be disingenuous to believe that employees are excluded from "the public" receiving news over a radio station. Respondent states that "only one employee actually heard the broadcast." (RBr 5). More accurately, only one employee testified to hearing it. Just how many actually heard it is not known. Several asked about it and, so that they might be prepared to cope with adverse reactions to it from family members and acquaintances, the Union played the tape for them. Respondent also alleges that the statements were only to "set the record straight." (RBr 10, citing Mr. Buschauer's testimony at TR 59). If this were so, Mr. Buschauer should have devoted his statements to specific facts refuting those which had appeared in the media. He was invited to do just this, and, expressly declined to do so. ULTIMATE FINDING AND ORDER Respondent has violated Section 7116(a)(1) of the Statute. Pursuant to 5 CFR 2423.26 and 5 U.S.C. 7118, the Authority hereby orders that Respondent, Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, Oakland Air Route Traffic Control Center, Fremont, California, shall: 1. Cease and desist from: (a) Interfering with, restraining or coercing bargaining-unit employees in the exercise of their rights as assured by the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute, by making disparaging remarks about the exclusive representative, Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization, in radio broadcasts. (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: (a) Post at its facility in Fremont, 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 Chief of the Oakland Air Route Traffic Control Center, and shall be posted and maintained by him for 60 consecutive days thereafter, in conspicuous places, including all places where notices to employees are customarily posted. The Chief shall take reasonable steps to insure that such notices are not altered, defaced or covered with any other material. (b) Notify the Federal Labor Relations Authority in writing, within thirty (30) days from the date of this Order as to what steps have been taken to comply herewith. ISABELLE R. CAPPELLO Administrative Law Judge Dated: May 28, 1981 Washington, D.C. APPENDIX 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 interfere with, restrain or coerce our employees in the exercise of their rights as assured by the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute, by making disparaging remarks concerning the exclusive representative, Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO), in radio broadcasts. WE WILL NOT, in any like or related manner, interfere with, restrain or coerce our employees in the exercise of their rights assured by the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute to form, join or assist any labor organization, freely and without fear of penalty or reprisal, including the right to act for a labor representative and the right, in that capacity, to present the views of the labor organization to Congress. (Agency or Activity) Dated: By: (Signature) 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 any employees have any questions concerning this Notice or compliance with any of its provisions, they may communicate directly with the Regional Director, Federal Labor Relations Authority, Region IX, whose address is: Room 11408, P.O. Box 36016, 450 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco, California 94102, and whose telephone number is: (415) 556-8105. --------------- FOOTNOTES$ --------------- /1/ The basis for the General Counsel's motion to strike is that the Respondent's brief in support of exceptions contains matters not a part of the record in this case. In reaching its Decision, the Authority has relied only on matters contained in the record of the instant proceeding, and therefore the motion to strike is denied. /2/ After the Judge issued her Decision in this case, the Authority revoked the exclusive recognition status of the Charging Party (PATCO) and thereafter dismissed certain complaints issued on behalf of PATCO on the basis that any decision rendered in such cases could not have any practical legal effect (see, e.g., Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization, AFL-CIO, Local 216, 11 FLRA No. 16(1983); United States Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, Southwest Region, 11 FLRA No. 18(1983)). However, the Authority concludes that the instant case has not been rendered moot. Thus, in contrast to the above-cited cases, alleged violations of the statutory rights of individual employees to act on behalf of and to be represented by a labor organization of their own choice are involved herein. We shall thus consider the merits of the case. /3/ Section 7116(a)(1) provides: (a) For the purpose of this chapter, it shall be an unfair labor practice for an agency-- (1) to interfere with, restrain, or coerce any employee in the exercise by the employee of any right under this chapter(.) /4/ Section 7116(e) provides: (e) The expression of any personal view, argument, opinion or the making of any statement which-- (1) publicizes the fact of a representational election and encourages employees to exercise their right to vote in such election, (2) corrects the record with respect to any false or misleading statement made by any person, or (3) informs employees of the Government's policy relating to labor-management relations and representation, shall not, if the expression contains no threat of reprisal or force or promise of benefit or was not made under coercive conditions, (A) constitute an unfair labor practice under any provision of this chapter, or (B) constitute grounds for the setting aside of any election conducted under any provisions of this chapter. /5/ See Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES), Ft. Carson, Colorado, 9 FLRA No. 69(1982); Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center (AFLC), Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, 6 FLRA No. 32(1981). Compare Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, Louisville District, 11 FLRA No. 64(1983). /6/ Case No. 9-CA-580 was originally consolidated with 9-CA-581. An Order dated November 21, 1980, severed 9-CA-580; and an informal settlement agreement was reached as to it. /7/ The Complaint was amended, at the hearing, to correct the name of Respondent. /8/ The transcript spelling, of "Bushauer", is corrected, wherever it so appears. /9/ Section 7116(a)(1) provides that it shall be an unfair labor practice for an agency "to interfere with, restrain, or coerce any employee in the exercise by the employee of any right under this chapter." Such "right)" include the "right to form, join, or assist any labor organization . . . freely and without fear of penalty or reprisal . . . , to act for a labor representative and the right, in that capacity, to present the views of the labor organization to . . . Congress . . . , and to engage in collective bargaining with respect to conditions of employment through representatives chosen by employees . . . " Section 7102 of the Statute. /10/ Section 7116(e) provides that: The expression of any personal view, argument, opinion or the making of any statement which - "(1) publicizes the fact of a representational election and encourages employees to exercise their right to vote in such election, "(2) corrects the record with respect to any false or misleading statement made by any person, or "(3) informs employees of the Government's policy relating to labor-management relations and representation, shall not, if the expression contains no threat of reprisal or force or promise of benefit or was not made under coercive conditions, (A) constitute an unfair labor practice under any provision of this chapter, or (B) constitute grounds for the setting aside of any election conducted under any provisions of this chapter. /11/ References to the record will be as follows: "TR" refers to the transcript; "GC" refers to exhibits of the General Counsel; "R" refers to exhibits of the Respondent; "Jt" refers to the Joint Exhibit; "GCBr" refers to the brief of the General Counsel; and "RBr" refers to the brief of Respondent. Multipage exhibits will be referenced by the exhibit number, followed by the page number. All dates referred to are in 1980, unless otherwise specified. /12/ The misspelling of "