15:0070(15)CA - Office of Program Operations, Field Operations, SSA, San Francisco Region and AFGE, Council of SS District Office Locals, San Francisco Region -- 1984 FLRAdec CA



[ v15 p70 ]
15:0070(15)CA
The decision of the Authority follows:


 15 FLRA No. 15
 
 OFFICE OF PROGRAM OPERATIONS
 FIELD OPERATIONS
 SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
 SAN FRANCISCO REGION
 Respondent
 
 and
 
 AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT
 EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO, COUNCIL OF SOCIAL
 SECURITY DISTRICT OFFICE LOCALS,
 SAN FRANCISCO REGION
 Charging Party
 
                                            Case No. 8-CA-366
 
                            DECISION AND ORDER
 
    The Administrative Law Judge issued his Decision in the
 above-entitled proceeding finding that the Respondent had engaged in
 certain unfair labor practices and recommending that it be ordered to
 cease and desist therefrom and take certain affirmative action.
 Exceptions to the Judge's Decision were filed by the Respondent.
 
    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 were hereby affirmed.  Upon consideration of the
 Judge's Decision and the entire record, the Authority hereby adopts the
 Judge's findings, conclusions and recommendations, as modified below.
 
    The complaint alleged that the Respondent violated section 7116(a)(1)
 and (5) of the Statute by unilaterally changing the job duties of Title
 XVI Claims Representatives at its Indio, California Branch Office
 without first notifying the Charging Party and affording it an
 opportunity to bargain over the impact and implementation of the
 aforementioned change, and additionally violated section 7116(a)(1), (5)
 and (8) of the Statute by conducting a meeting with unit employees
 concerning conditions of employment without first notifying the Charging
 Party and giving it an opportunity to be present at the meeting.  /1/
 
    As found by the Judge, the Charging Party's representative received a
 written agenda from the Respondent's District Manager for a monthly
 labor-management meeting.  Among the items contained in the District
 Manager's agenda was a proposal that would require Title XVI Claims
 Representatives at its Indio Branch Office to perform additional duties;
  i.e., to complete certain medical forms that previously had been the
 work of Title II Claims Representatives at the same branch office.  The
 Charging Party responded to the District Manager's proposal by
 submitting an agenda for the up-coming labor-management meeting which
 contained four written counterproposals.  At that meeting, the parties
 discussed the District Manager's proposal and the Charging Party's first
 proposal, and also agreed to consider hiring another Title II Claims
 Representative, as the Charging Party requested in its second proposal,
 but indicated that this could not be done immediately.  With respect to
 the Charging Party's third proposal, which would have required the
 Respondent to detail a District Office Title XVI Claims Representative
 with the lowest pending backlog to work on certain other matters, and
 its lowest pending backlog to work on certain other matters, and its
 fourth proposal, which would have prohibited the agency from assigning
 new job duties to Title XVI Claims Representatives for more than sixty
 days, the District Manager took the position that these proposals raised
 matters which were management's rights and that he had no intention of
 bargaining on such items.
 
    A few days later, pursuant to a directive from the District Manager
 to implement the change in assignments, the Respondent's Indio,
 California Branch Manager called a staff meeting which was held in the
 all-purpose room and attended by unit employees and possibly another
 supervisor.  At the meeting, the Branch Manager announced that
 henceforth Title XVI Claims Representatives would be required to perform
 additional duties;  i.e., perform work previously assigned to the Title
 II Claims Representatives.  After the announcement, several employees
 discussed the subject with the Branch Manager, explaining why they
 believed the assignment of additional duties to them was inequitable.
 It is undisputed that the Charging Party was not apprised of the
 aforementioned meeting, which lasted about 15 minutes, and that its
 representative was not in attendance.
 
    In disagreement with the Judge, the Authority finds that the
 Respondent did not violate section 7116(a)(1) and (5) of the Statute by
 its failure to notify the Charging Party and afford it an opportunity to
 bargain over the impact and implementation of certain changes in the job
 duties of Title XVI Claims Representatives.  The record shows that the
 Charging Party was notified of the Respondent's proposed change in the
 job duties of certain unit employees prior to a monthly labor-management
 meeting;  that it prepared and submitted four counterproposals;  and
 that it subsequently met and discussed such items items with the
 Respondent.  The record further indicates that the Respondent agreed to
 the Charging Party's first proposal, agreed to consider or implement its
 second proposal at an unspecified future date, and took the position
 that the Charging Party's third and fourth proposals were, in substance,
 nonnegotiable.  Based upon the foregoing, the Authority finds that the
 Respondent met its duty to bargain in good faith with respect to the
 first two proposals.  Additionally, the Authority finds that proposals
 three and four, which would require a Claims Representative with the
 lowest pending backlog to perform certain work and would prohibit the
 agency from assigning new job duties to certain Claims Representatives
 for more than sixty days, respectively, directly interfere with
 management's right under section 7106(a)(2)(B) of the Statute /2/ to
 assign work, and therefore were outside the Respondent's duty to
 bargain.  See American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO and
 Air Force Logistics Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, 2
 FLRA 603 (1980) (Union Proposal XVI), affirmed sub nom., Department of
 Defense v. FLRA, 659 F.2d 1140 (D.C. Cir. 1981), cert. denied, sub nom,
 AFGE v. FLRA, 455 U.S. 945 (1982).  See also National Treasury Employees
 Union and Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, 6 FLRA
 508 (1981) (Union Proposal V).  Accordingly, that portion of the
 complaint shall be dismissed.
 
    However, the Authority agrees with the Judge's conclusion that the
 staff meeting with unit employees at the Indio Branch Office was a
 formal discussion under section 7114(a)(2)(A) /3/ of the Statute.  /4/
 Thus, the meeting was initiated by management and was conducted in a
 central office location by the head official in the Branch Office while
 another supervisor may have been in attendance;  unit employees were
 required to attend the meeting;  and the meeting was called for the
 specific purpose of announcing changes directly affecting unit
 employees' conditions of employment.  While the meeting only lasted
 about 15 minutes, the Authority concludes that it was "formal" in nature
 and, under the circumstances, the exclusive representative was entitled
 to be apprised of such meeting and given an opportunity to be present.
 See, e.g., Internal Revenue Service (District, Region, National Office
 Unit), 11 FLRA No. 23 (1983).  Accordingly, the Authority finds that the
 Respondent violated section 7116(a)(1) and (8) of the Statute because of
 its failure to comply with section 7114(a)(2)(A).  /5/
 
                                   ORDER
 
    Pursuant to section 2423.29 of the Federal Labor Relations
 Authority's Rules and Regulations and section 7118 of the Statute, it is
 ordered that the Office of Program Operations, Field Operations, Social
 Security Administration, San Francisco Region, shall:
 
    1.  Cease and desist from:
 
    (a) Holding or conducting formal discussions with bargaining unit
 employees without first providing the American Federation of Government
 Employees, AFL-CIO, Council of Social Security District Office Locals,
 San Francisco Region, on behalf of the American Federation of Government
 Employees, AFL-CIO, appropriate advance notice and an opportunity to be
 represented at such formal discussions.
 
    (b) In any like or related manner interfering with, restraining, or
 coercing its employees in the exercise of 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 Statute:
 
    (a) Notify the American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO,
 Council of Social Security District Office Locals, San Francisco Region,
 on behalf of the American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO,
 and afford it the opportunity to be represented at formal discussions
 with bargaining unit employees.
 
    (b) Post at its facilities at the Social Security Branch Office,
 Indio, California, copies of the attached Notice on forms to be
 furnished by the Federal Labor Relations Authority.  Upon receipt of
 such forms, they shall be signed by the Branch Manager, or his designee,
 and shall be posted and maintained for 60 consecutive days thereafter,
 in conspicuous places, including all bulletin boards and other places
 where notices to employees are customarily posted.  Reasonable steps
 shall be taken to ensure that such Notices are not altered, defaced, or
 covered by any other material.
 
    (c) Pursuant to section 2423.30 of the Authority's Rules and
 Regulations, notify the Regional Director, Region VIII, Federal Labor
 Relations Authority, in writing, within 30 days from the date of this
 Order, as to what steps have been taken to comply herewith.
 
    IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that those allegations of the complaint found
 to be without merit be, and they hereby are, dismissed.
 
    Issued, Washington, D.C., June 8, 1984
 
                                       Barbara J. Mahone, Chairman
                                       Ronald W. Haughton, Member
                                       Henry B. Frazier III, Member
                                       FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY
 
 
 
 
 
                          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 hold or conduct formal discussions with bargaining unit
 employees without first providing the American Federation of Government
 Employees, AFL-CIO, Council of Social Security District Office Locals,
 San Francisco Region, on behalf of the American Federation of Government
 Employees, AFL-CIO, appropriate advance notice and an opportunity to be
 represented at such formal discussions.
 
    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.
 
    WE WILL notify the American Federation of Government Employees,
 AFL-CIO, Council of Social Security District Office Locals, San
 Francisco Region, on behalf of the American Federation of Government
 Employees, AFL-CIO, and afford it the opportunity to be represented at
 formal discussions with bargaining unit employees.
                                       (Activity)
 
    Dated:  . . .  By:  . . .
                                       (Signature) (Title)
 
    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 employees have any questions concerning this Notice or compliance
 with its provisions, they may communicate directly with the Regional
 Director, Region VIII, Federal Labor Relations Authority whose address
 is:  350 Figueroa Street, 10th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90071, and whose
 telephone number is:  (213) 688-3805.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 -----------------
 
 OWS ---
    Joseph Swerdzewski, Esqs.
    For the General Counsel
 
    Wilson G. Schuerholz
    For the Respondent
 
    Jeffrey H. Dasteel,
    For the Charging Party
 
    Before:  ELI NASH, JR.
    Administrative Law Judge
 
                                 DECISION
 
                           Statement of the Case
 
    Pursuant to a Consolidated /6/ Complaint and Notice of Hearing issued
 on April 30, 1980 by the Regional Director for the Federal Labor
 Relations Authority, Los Angeles, California Region, a hearing was held
 before the undersigned on November 19, 1980 at Palm Springs, California.
 
    The proceeding arose under the Federal Service Labor-Management
 Relations Statute, 92 Stat. 1191, 5 U.S.C. 7101 et seq. (herein called
 the Statute).  It is based upon a first amended charge filed on April
 28, 1980 by American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO,
 Council of Social Security District Office Locals, San Francisco,
 California (herein called the charging party or the Union) against
 Office of Program Operations, Social Security Administration, San
 Francisco, California Region (herein called Respondent).
 
    The complaint alleged, in substance, that Respondent engaged in
 certain unfair labor practices within the meaning of section 7116(a)(1),
 (5) and (8) of the Statute, by unilaterally changing the job duties of
 the Title XVI claims representative at its Indio, California Branch
 Office, without first notifying the union, and affording it an
 opportunity to bargain;  and, by conducting a meeting with unit
 employees on February 4, 1980, concerning conditions of employment,
 without first notifying the Union and giving it an opportunity to be
 present.
 
    Respondent filed an Answer in which it denied the commission of any
 unfair labor practices.
 
    All parties were represented at the hearing.  Each was afforded full
 opportunity to be heard, to adduce evidence, and to examine and
 cross-examine witnesses.  Thereafter timely briefs were filed with the
 undersigned which have been duly considered.
 
    Upon the entire record in this case, from my observation of the
 witnesses and their demeanor, and from all of the testimony and evidence
 adduced at the hearing, I make the following findings and conclusions.
 
                             Findings of Fact
 
    At all times material herein the Union has been the collective
 bargaining representative of the employees employed at Respondent's
 Indio, California Branch office.
 
              A. Labor-Management Meeting of January 31, 1980
 
    Around January 23, 1980, Victoria Doyle, then the Union
 representative for the Palm Springs District Office received a written
 agenda from Palm Springs District Manager, Martin Semel, for a monthly
 upcoming labor-management meeting.  Doyle as union representative in
 Respondent's Palm Springs District was charged with the responsibility
 of negotiating with management.  Among the items contained in Semel's
 agenda was a proposal that "Title XVI claims representatives do the
 medical part of the interview and development in concurrent claims," at
 the Indio, California, Branch Office, a part of the Palm Springs
 District.  This proposal required the Title XVI claims representatives
 rather than the Title II claims representatives who had formerly done
 such work, to complete the necessary medical forms for concurrent
 claims.
 
    The record disclosed that concurrent claims are those claims filed
 for benefits under both disability programs administered by Respondent.
 Title II claims representatives work involves standard Social Security
 Disability Benefit payments while Title XVI claims representatives
 completed interview forms related solely to the Supplemental Security
 Income Program.  Although claimant's must establish disability to be
 entitled to payment under either program the portions of forms required
 to be filled out by claims representatives differ, because eligibility
 requirements for payment under the programs are different.  The
 eligibility of one being determined on economic need and the other on
 actual disability if the claimant has Social Security coverage.  In any
 event, medical disability must be established by the claimant on either
 form, but certain differences exist as to what is required in filling
 out either of the forms.  Title XVI claims representatives were not
 required to have knowledge of "date of onset" since payment of those
 claims were commenced as of the date of application and not date of
 injury, illness or disability.  On the other hand, "date of onset" is
 extremely critical to Title II claims, since payment can be made to a
 claimant retroactively for an entire year, depending on how the form is
 completed.  According to the record, establishment of a correct date of
 onset of disability can be difficult and in addition a determination as
 to whether a claimant has engaged in substantial employment since the
 alleged date of disability must also be made.
 
    Concurrent claims, by claimant's seeking determination as to
 eligibility for Title II and Title XVI benefits were generally completed
 prior to January 1980 in the Indio office by Title II claims
 representatives.  Although on rare occasions prior to the incidents
 giving rise to this matter Title XVI claims representatives did complete
 concurrent claims, on a voluntary basis.
 
    In addition to submitting a Union agenda, Doyle on January 24, 1980
 responded by submitting four written counterproposals relating to the
 handling of concurrent claims in Indio.  The counterproposals were:
 
    1.  Extensive training be given the Title XVI CRs on form SSA 3368
 specifically question 1, 20-40 being met.
 
    2.  The next available hiring slot in the District be directed toward
 obtaining a T2 CRfor the Indio Branch Office.
 
    3.  The D.O. Title XVI CRwith the lowest pending (until such time as
 the D.O. redets are released) be detailed twice a week to work on the
 B.O. redet listings.
 
    4.  Your proposed change put in effect not to exceed 60 days.
 
    In the counterproposal, Doyle also requested bargaining on the
 proposed changes.
 
    On January 31, 1980 Doyle and Semel met.  One of the agenda subjects
 discussed was the handling of concurrent claims in the Indio office and
 Samel's January 23, 1980 proposal.  Semel and Doyle began by discussing
 the Union's first counterproposal.  Doyle requested that training be
 given to the Title XVI claims representatives on question one on the
 Disability Report, or Form 3368.  Semel agreed to this proposal.  They
 then proceeded to discuss counterproposal two.  Again Semel agreed to
 consider, in the future, hiring another Title II claims representatives
 for Indio, and informed Doyle that at that time no hiring could be done.
 
    Exactly what was said next by the parties is in dispute.  According
 to Doyle, when they reached counterproposal three, Semel informed her
 that this issue was a "management right" and that he would "do what he
 wanted".  Doyle then asserted her right to bargain and Semel replied:  "
 . . . he was not bargaining, he had not been bargaining and he would not
 ever bargain." Semel testified that when the parties reached the Union's
 counterproposal four he did say to Doyle that he would not bargain.  /7/
 Further, it appears that the parties did discuss the duration of the
 change, however, Semel said that he could not bargain.  Although the
 parties' remained in the meeting and discussed other unrelated matters
 there was no further discussion relating to the counterproposals.
 
    Upon leaving the meeting, Doyle telephoned the Indio office to ask
 employees there to inform her the moment any change was put into effect.
  Shortly after the meeting Semel also called the Indio Office Branch
 Manager Ramon Velarde and told him to make the claims representative
 change in assignments.  Semel, at that time, instructed Velarde to give
 the claims representatives "whatever training was necessary."
 
    The Title XVI claims representatives continued to work on concurrent
 claims for approximately six-months thereafter before discontinuing that
 assignment.
 
               B.  February 4, 1980 Announcement of Changes
 
    On approximately February 4, 1980, at the beginning of the work day,
 Mr. Ramon Velarde, Respondent's Indio Branch Manager called a staff
 meeting at which the claims representatives, data review technicians and
 possibly Tom Freeland, a supervisor in the Indio office, were present.
 Velarde told the staff that commencing that day at 9:00 A.M., the Title
 XVI claims representatives would be required to complete all medical
 documentation necessary for concurrent claims filed in the Indio office.
  Claims representative Carol Cofflin recalls that Velarde told the group
 that the change was temporary depending on how many interviews were
 coming in.
 
    After Velarde made this announcement to the staff, several employees
 discussed the subject with Velarde, and explained to him that, in their
 view, the imposition of this additional duty seemed inequitable.  These
 employees, emphasized that the new task would add significant time to a
 Title XVI claims representative's duties which already required nearly
 an hour for every new claim interview, whereas the Title II claim
 interview took only fifteen minutes.  /8/ In response, the claims
 representatives were told by Velarde that the Title II claims
 representatives needed assistance, and that this was the procedure which
 would now be followed in the office.  There were no instructions on how
 to complete the forms, and the particular items on the forms were not
 discussed.  The entire meeting, according to the recollections of those
 who testified lasted between five and fifteen minutes.  There was no
 training given as to how the medical forms were to be filled out.
 
    Shortly after the February 4, 1980 meeting, Doyle received a
 telephone call from an unidentified employee in the Indio Branch Office
 informing her that the change had been announced at a staff meeting that
 morning and "that they were to implement the change immediately."
 
    The task of completing the medical forms for concurrent claims
 involves completing four separate forms.  The Disability Report, or Form
 3368, requires fifteen to forty-five minutes to complete;  the Work
 Activity Report, or Form 821, requires an additional five to thirty
 minutes to complete;  the Vocational Report, or Form 5369, ten to thirty
 minutes;  and the Medical Release, or Form 827, a few minutes.  On the
 average, the medical forms take thirty to forty-five minutes to
 complete.
 
    Prior to the change announced on February 4, 1980, the Title XVI
 claims representatives had completed the medical forms for Title XVI
 claims on only an occasional basis, only two to three times a month for
 Title XVI claims.  In addition, Title XVI claims representatives had
 completed the concurrent forms approximately ten times a month.  Pat
 Block a Title XVI claims representative in the Indio Office testified
 that she completed these forms only once a month.  However, after
 February 4, 1980 Title XVI claims representatives became responsible for
 completing all medical forms, consequently, their duties were increased
 substantially.  As Block testified, completing the concurrent forms four
 or five times each week increased here responsibilities sixteen to
 twenty times in this area.  Another Title XVI claims representative in
 the Indio office, Carol Cofflin testified that completing the concurrent
 forms twenty times per month more than doubled the number of times she
 was required to fill out such forms.
 
    With this change in assignment all Title XVI claims representatives
 were responsible for filling out each of the four medical forms
 (Disability Report, Work Activity Report, Vocational Report and Medical
 Release) for each concurrent medical claim;  these numbered
 approximately twenty per week.  The new assignment, according to Cofflin
 meant four to six additional medical claims a week, each claim requiring
 an average of forty-five minutes of additional work for an average of
 three to four extra hours of work per week, in addition to all their
 other duties.  Cofflin also testified that during that period of time
 when there were only three Title XVI claims representatives, a Title XVI
 claims representative had to complete six to seven concurrent medical
 claims per week because almost every claim coming into the office was a
 concurrent claim.  /9/ Cofflin further asserted that in cases where the
 claimant was not sure of his qualifications, the office policy, or at
 least the practice among claims representatives was to take the Title II
 medical portion as well, making the claim concurrent in nature.  Thus,
 purely Title XVI claims were only occasionally or rarely processed.
 
    With regard to experience, Cofflin stated that those Title XVI claims
 representatives who happened to have had previous Title II experience
 had an advantage over those who did not;  and, there were indeed, Title
 XVI claims representatives in the office who had no previous Title II
 experience.  Lacking experience these Title XVI claims representatives
 had to become concerned with accurately filling out the portion of the
 forms concerning date of onset of disability to ensure that the claimant
 received proper benefits.  This new responsibility required extensive
 interviewing by the claims representative since, as previously stated,
 the claims representative's initial determination could result in the
 grant or denial of substantial amounts of benefits to a particular
 claimant based on the date of onset.  Finally, as Respondent asserts,
 the new assignments to Title XVI claims representatives did indeed
 create much more work for them, a result which management desired to
 achieve.
 
                      C. Past Bargaining Relationship
 
    The parties' usually met on a monthly basis and bargained, coming to
 mutual agreement on various Union proposals according to Union
 representative Doyle.  Doyle further testified that she had engaged in
 back and forth bargaining with Assistant District Manager, Esther Mata.
 Doyle also testified that she bargained with management over such
 subjects as:  procedures to be followed in shipping old files to
 storage.  In which instance the Union presented written proposals which
 were negotiated accepted and implemented by management;  the
 alpha-breakdown for the date review technicians where the Union
 presented a breakdown supported by written statistical information which
 was accepted, almost to the letter, and implemented by management;  the
 updating of the emergency manual on safety procedures and training on
 how employees were to keep track of the quantity of their work;  and,
 (DOWR training) where management agreed and gave the training.
 
    Respondent agreed that the parties had bargained at that level.
 Thus, according to Semel, the parties had indeed reached mutual
 agreement on a union counterproposal concerning the alpha breakdown for
 the date review technicians.  He also stated that he had agreed to
 follow up on a union proposal to look into hygiene in the Indio Branch
 restrooms;  and, that in response to Union proposals to conduct safety
 training, he agreed to give the training.  Further, Semel agreed that he
 had met with the Union on a monthly basis.  /10/ Even at the January 31,
 1980, meeting where the subject of concurrent claims had been discussed,
 Doyle, on behalf of the Union, made a proposal over which she and Semel
 bargained, and to which Semel ultimately agreed.  Thus, it appears that
 the parties had bargained back and forth until they began to discuss
 counterproposal three.
 
    Respondent presented witnesses to show the bargaining relationship
 between the parties and that the Master Agreement limits the union's
 rights to consultation at the District level.  /11/ Area Director
 Marjorie Lee testified that she participated in negotiations of the
 Master Agreement, particularly Article 1 which defines the wording of
 the Agreement.  According to Lee, her understanding of the relationship
 between the union and management at the District level was that the
 parties were to consult, and she maintained that this was reflected in
 the Master Agreement "negotiations shall take place only at the Regional
 and District levels." She also stated, without pointing to any
 particular section of the contract, that the parties had agreed at
 contract negotiations to limit their relationship to one of
 consultation.  Lee also testified that Article 1 which sets forth the
 definition of consultation in Section 7 was a definitional section only,
 to be used to interpret the terms of the Master Agreement.
 
    Lee further pointed out that the contract provided for negotiations
 at Article 15, Sections (A) and (C);  rest periods and overtime) and at
 Article 18, Section A (use of leave) of the Master Agreement.  Lee was
 unable to point to any provision in the Master Agreement which provided
 for district level consultations.  She stated that the contract was
 silent on this point.  Finally, Lee testified that there was no existing
 written understanding of what the union-management relationship was in
 Palm Springs, and that she had never observed or participated in any
 dealings between the Palm Springs District Director and the Union.
 
                        Discussion and Conclusions
 
             A. Obligation to Negotiate Concerning Assignments
 
    Respondent submits that the instant situation revolves around the
 parties interpretation of the San Francisco Master Collective Bargaining
 Agreement and what that agreement provides for concerning bargaining at
 the District level.  Respondent, therefore, contends that the
 appropriate resolution of the matter as to the meaning of the Master
 Agreement, is through the procedures established in the agreement.  In
 Respondent's opinion, its obligation at the District level under the
 Master Agreement is limited to consultation.  The argument here is
 identical to that made in Department of Health and Human Services,
 Social Security Administration, Office of Program Operations and Field
 Operations, Sutter District Office, San Francisco, California, 5 FLRA
 No. 63 (April 1981).  There the Respondent contended that it was not
 obligated to negotiate with the union, only consult.  In that case the
 identical collective bargaining agreement was at issue.  However, the
 Authority found that the Sutter District office involved in that matter
 was acting as an agent for the Region, and as such, its actions were
 binding upon the Region.  The question in this matter is not one of
 definition of "consultation" or "negotiation" as Respondent would urge,
 but one of whether Respondent had an obligation, when making changes in
 terms and conditions of employment to meet with and bargain with the
 union at the level at which the changes occurred.  An argument that the
 terminology of the collective bargaining agreement constitutes a waiver
 is outdated.  Unless there is mutual agreement to limit an obligation to
 bargain the obligation is clearly to "negotiate" rather than as
 Respondent contends to consult.  Report and Recommendations on the
 Amendments to Executive Order 11491, as amended from the Federal Labor
 Relations Council, January 1975 at 41-42.  The wording of the contract
 in this matter does not constitute a waiver.  Moreover, as
 Administrative Law Judge Arrigo stated after reviewing this same
 collective bargaining agreement in the Sutter case, supra, I do not find
 that the union waived its statutory right to negotiate on the matters at
 issue herein.  I am compelled to follow the Authority's reasoning in the
 Sutter case, in the instant matter and find no waiver herein.
 
    Likewise, Respondent's argument that assuming that there is an
 obligation to bargain on the District level, the subject matter herein
 is non-negotiable is rejected.  /13/ Although certain reserved rights of
 management are set out in section 7106 of the Statute, Agencys are not
 relieved of the obligation to bargain concerning impact and
 implementation of those changes.  Even assuming a reserved right was
 exercised herein, impact on employees in this matter can clearly be seen
 through increased work loads, training, duration, and the like and
 Respondent refused to negotiate regarding those impacts.
 
    Respondent asserts in its brief that it appropriately informed and
 dealt with the union concerning the assignment of Title XVI claims
 representatives to complete the medical portion of the concurrent
 claims, and that the union ended the negotiation process.  I disagree.
 While Respondent notified the exclusive representative that it intended
 to change the duties of Title XVI claims representatives and reviewed
 its proposals related to impact and implementation bargaining it did not
 engage in good faith negotiations with regard to such impact and
 implementation.  The record clearly establishes that the District
 Officer Manager Semel refused to pursue the Union's last two
 counterproposals stating that he "was not bargaining, he had never
 bargained, and he would never bargain." Semel's actions, therefore,
 prevented the parties from further discussing any aspect of the change
 after only two of the Union's counterproposals had been reviewed.
 Furthermore, after not reaching agreement and refusing to engage in any
 give and take bargaining concerning the counterproposals Semel
 immediately telephoned the Indio office and instructed Velarde to
 implement the changes.  Case law is well settled that an Agency may not
 alter terms and conditions of employment in the absence of agreement or
 impasse following good faith bargaining.  Department of the Navy, Naval
 Underwater Systems Center, Newport Naval Base, 3 FLRA No. 64 (1980);
 U.S. Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, New Orleans
 District, 8 A/SLMR No. 497, A/SLMR No 1043 (1978).  In this case the
 parties were engaged in what appeared to be good faith negotiations
 concerning the change in assignment for Title XVI claims representatives
 when Respondent decided that it had no obligation to bargain about
 certain aspects of the assignments, but merely to consult or exchange
 views.  Respondent through its actions clearly refused to explore
 through the bargaining process what impact there might be.  Nor can
 Respondent contend that the parties' were not bargaining, for the record
 clearly reveals that bargaining had occurred at the monthly
 union-management meetings.  Concluding unilaterally that it had no
 further obligation to negotiate and implementing changes that had never
 been agreed upon or which on no impasse had been reached clearly
 violates section 7116(a)(1) and (5) of the Statute.  /14/
 
                 B.  Formal Discussion of February 4, 1980
 
    The General Counsel contends that the February 4, 1980 meeting
 between Branch Manager Ramon Velarde and unit employees constituted a
 formal discussion within the meaning of section 7114(a)(2)(A) of the
 Statute, and that the Union was therefore entitled to advance notice and
 an opportunity to be represented.  Respondent, on the other hand,
 contends that the meeting was merely to relay a decision to employees.
 The key to whether a meeting is a formal discussion under section
 7114(a)(2)(A) of the Statute is whether it concerns personnel policies,
 practices and other general working conditions of employment.  Cf.
 Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Region IV, Atlanta, Georgia
 and Department of Health and Human Services, Region IV, Atlanta,
 Georgia, 5 FLRA No. 58 (1981).  Without question general working
 conditions of employment were discussed at this meeting.  First,
 employees were told that their work load would be increased a
 substantial number of times through added duties.  Secondly, both the
 significant new work load and training were discussed between the
 employees involved and Branch Manager Velarde.  Where personnel
 policies, practices and other general conditions of employment are
 discussed the exclusive representative is entitled to be represented.
 Failure to allow such presence constitutes a violation of section
 7116(a)(1) and (8) of the Statute.  Accordingly, it is found that the
 February 4, 1980 meeting held to discuss general working conditions
 without informing the exclusive representative and allowing an
 opportunity for it to be present violated the Statute.
 
    In view of the foregoing, it is recommended that the Authority adopt
 the following Order:
 
                                   ORDER
 
    Pursuant to Section 7118(a)(7) of the Federal Service
 Labor-Management Relations Statute and Section 2423.29 of the Rules and
 Regulations, it is hereby ordered that Office of Program Operations,
 Field Operations, Social Security Administration, San Francisco Region,
 shall:
 
    1.  Cease and desist from:
 
          (a) Changing the job duties of the Title XVI claims
       representatives or any unit employee in the Indio Branch Office
       without first notifying the American Federation of Government
       Employees, Council of Social Security District Office Locals,
       AFL-CIO, or any other exclusive representative of such change and
       affording it the opportunity to negotiate concerning the
       implementation and impact of such changes on affected unit
       employees.
 
          (b) Conducting formal discussions between management and unit
       employees, or their representatives, concerning personnel policies
       and practices without notifying and affording the American
       Federation of Government Employees, Council of Social Security
       District Office Locals, AFL-CIO, or any other exclusive
       representative, the opportunity to be represented at formal
       discussions between management and employees concerning personnel
       policies and practices and other general conditions of employment.
 
          (c) In any like or related manner interfering with, restraining
       or coercing its employees of their rights assured by the Statute.
 
    2.  Take the following affirmative action:
 
          (a) Upon request, meet and negotiate only with the American
       Federation of Government Employees, Council of Social Security
       District Office Locals, AFL-CIO, or any other exclusive
       representative of its employees, with regard to personnel policies
       and practices, or other matters affecting the general working
       conditions of employees at the Social Security Branch Office,
       Indio, California.
 
          (b) Notify the American Federation of Government Employees,
       Council of Social Security District Office Locals, AFL-CIO or any
       other exclusive representative, of and afford it the opportunity
       to be represented at formal discussions between management and
       unit employees, as their representative, concerning personnel
       policies and practices, or other matters affecting general working
       conditions of employees in the unit.
 
          (c) Post at its Social Security Branch Office, Indio,
       California facility, 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
       Director, and shall be posted and maintained by him for 60
       consecutive days thereafter, in conspicuous places, including
       bulletin boards and other places where notices to employees are
       customarily posted.  The Director shall take reasonable steps to
       insure that such notices are not altered, defaced, or covered by
       any other material.
 
          (d) Notify the Federal Labor Relations Authority, in writing,
       within 30 days from the date of this order, as to what steps have
       been taken to comply herewith.
                                       ELI NASH, JR.
                                       Administrative Law Judge
 
    Dated:  May 19, 1981
 
    Washington, D.C.
 
                                APPENDIX A
 
                          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 change work assignments of Title XVI claims
 representatives without first notifying the American Federation of
 Government Employees, Council of Social Security District Office Locals,
 AFL-CIO, or any other exclusive representative and affording it the
 opportunity to bargain concerning the implementation of such changes and
 their impact on adversely affected employees.
 
    WE WILL NOT conduct formal discussions between management and unit
 employees, or their representatives, concerning personnel policies and
 practices or other matters affecting general working conditions of
 employees in the unit, without notifying and affording the American
 Federation of Government Employees, Council of Social Security District
 Office Locals, AFL-CIO, the exclusive representative of our employees,
 the opportunity to be represented at such discussions.
 
    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
 Statute.
 
    WE WILL, upon request, meet and negotiate in good faith only with the
 American Federation of Government Employees, Council of Social Security
 District Office Locals, AFL-CIO, with respect to personnel policies and
 practices, or other matters affecting the general working conditions of
 employees in the Social Security Branch Office, Indio, California.
                                       (Agency or activity)
                                       (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 employees have any questions concerning this Notice or compliance
 with any of its provisions, they may communicate directly with the
 Regional Director of the Federal Labor Relations Authority, Region 8,
 whose address is 350 South Figueroa Street, 10th Floor, Los Angeles, CA
 90071, and whose telephone number is:  213-688-3805.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 --------------- FOOTNOTES$ ---------------
 
 
    /1/ At all times material herein the Charging Party has represented
 certain employees on behalf of the American Federation of Government
 Employees, AFL-CIO, in the Respondent's San Francisco Region, including
 its Indio, California Branch Office.
 
 
    /2/ Section 7106(a)(2)(B) provides:
 
          Sec. 7106.  Management rights
 
          (a) Subject to subjection (b) of this section, nothing in this
       chapter shall affect the authority of any management official of
       any agency--
 
                                .  .  .  .
 
          (2) in accordance with applicable laws--
 
                                .  .  .  .
 
          (B) to assign work(.)
 
 
    /3/ Section 7114(a)(2)(A) provides as follows:
 
    Sec. 7114.  Representation rights and duties
 
                                .  .  .  .
 
    (a)(2) An exclusive representative of an appropriate unit in an
 agency shall be given the opportunity to be represented at--
 
          (A) any formal discussion between one or more representatives
       of the agency and one or more employees in the unit of their
       representatives concerning any grievance or any personnel policy
       or practices or other general conditions of employment(.)
 
 
    /4/ In Department of Health and Human Services, Social Security
 Administration, Bureau of Field Operations, San Francisco, California,
 10 FLRA No. 24 (1982), the Authority identified some of the factors to
 be considered in determining whether a meeting with unit employees is in
 fact "formal" in nature.
 
 
    /5/ As the Order below fully remedies the violation found herein, the
 Authority finds it unnecessary to decide whether such conduct also
 violated section 7116(a)(5) of the Statute.  Office of Program
 Operations, Field Operations, Social Security Administration, San
 Francisco Region, 10 FLRA No. 36 (1982).
 
 
    /6/ Cases Nos. 8-CA-342, 8-CA-343, and 8-CA-344, were severed from
 the instant matter at the hearing.
 
 
    /7/ Doyle's notes of the meeting show that Semel refused to bargain
 over counterproposal three and four.
 
 
    /8/ The difference in time required, occurs because Title XVI claims
 require that the claimant disclose certain information concerning
 income, resources, living arrangements, and number of people in the home
 to establish entitlement under that program while Title II claimants are
 required only to establish sufficient quarters of coverage which are
 shown on the individual's Social Security earnings record.
 
 
    /9/ Concurrent claims are normally filed for the protection of a
 claimant, in the event he or she did not have sufficient quarters or
 coverage to allow payment of Title II benefits.
 
 
    /10/ Respondent only disagrees as to the nature of these meetings.
 According to Semel the monthly consultation meetings involved "getting
 together with the Union to discuss any changes that we may have in
 working conditions, personnel policies and practices;  in consulting
 with one another, (sic) getting each other's view points before making a
 decision as to what the change should be." Doyle maintains that the
 purpose of the monthly meetings was to bargain.
 
 
    /11/ A Palm Springs Supplemental Agreement exists but, has never been
 executed or put into effect, and the parties have never operated under
 it.  That document is allegedly the subject of many pending grievances.
 
 
    /12/ Article 1, Sections 6 and 7 of the Master Agreement provide as
 follows:
 
          6.  Negotiation is a meeting between the parties wherein they
       seek written agreement, and, in lieu thereof, seek third party
       assistance to reach agreement.
 
          7.  Consultation is the process whereby the appropriate
       official shall notify the Union of proposed changes in personnel
       policies, practices and matters affecting working conditions
       within that official's jurisdiction.  The parties will fully
       explore and consider each other's views before taking Decisive
       action.  Except in emergencies, short deadlines, or similar
       situations the receiving party will be notified adequately in
       advance of a change to prepare its views and suggest changes to
       the party desiring a change.  The Council may consult in person at
       reasonable times, on request, with appropriate officials, on
       personnel policy matters and at all times present its views in
       writing.
 
 
    /13/ American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, Local
 2879, 2 FLRA No. 93 (1980) cited by Respondent is distinguishable on the
 facts and involves a question of national negotiations on a
 negotiability issue.
 
 
    /14/ Respondent contends that the change in assignment was not a
 change in conditions of employment.  In my view, nothing can be more
 clearly a change in employment or working con