15:0338(72)RA - DOI, National Park Service, Western Regional Office, San Francisco, CA and NFFE Local 1 -- 1984 FLRAdec RP



[ v15 p338 ]
15:0338(72)RA
The decision of the Authority follows:


 15 FLRA No. 72
 
 DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
 NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
 WESTERN REGIONAL OFFICE
 SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
 Activity/Petitioner
 
 and
 
 NATIONAL FEDERATION OF FEDERAL
 EMPLOYEES, LOCAL 1, INDEPENDENT
 Labor Organization
 
                                            Case Nos. 9-RA-8 
                                                      9-RA-9
 
                    DECISION AND DIRECTION OF ELECTION
 
    Upon petitions duly filed 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 pursuant to the
 Authority's Decision on Request for Review remanding the matter to the
 Acting Regional Director.  /1/ The hearing officer's rulings made at the
 hearing are free from prejudicial error and are hereby affirmed.
 
    Upon the entire record in this consolidated case, including the
 parties' contentions, the Authority finds:
 
    The Activity/Petitioner filed the instant petitions asserting a good
 faith doubt that the incumbent labor organization, National Federation
 of Federal Employees, Local 1 (the Union), continues to represent a
 majority of the employees in the existing exclusive bargaining units in
 view of two reorganizations which have occurred since the units were
 certified in 1971.  It also contends that the reorganization
 substantially affected the scope and character of such units so that the
 units no longer remain appropriate.  /2/
 
    The Union was certified in 1971 as the exclusive representative for
 two units of employees of the National Park Service (NPS) in San
 Francisco, California, one including all professionals, and the second
 including all non-professionals.
 
    A reorganization took place on June 30, 1972, which eliminated more
 than one-half of the total employee complement, reducing the
 professional unit by 80 percent.  Another reorganization, on February 9,
 1981, merged the employees of the Heritage Conservation and Recreation
 Service (HCRS), formerly located in Denver, Colorado, with the Western
 Regional Office, located in San Francisco, California, thereby
 increasing the size of both units.  These reorganizations, the Activity
 asserts, substantially changed the nature, character, and scope of the
 original bargaining units.  In addition, the Activity asserts that it
 has a good faith doubt with respect to the continued majority status of
 the Union.  In support of its assertion, the Activity notes, inter alia,
 that:  (1) the Union has never negotiated a collective bargaining
 agreement for either unit;  (2) despite the fact that the parties
 entered into a dues withholding agreement, only 5 of a total of over 200
 employees from both units are presently on dues withholding;  (3)
 negotiations have never taken place concerning changes in conditions of
 employment;  (4) there are no stewards representing the employees of
 either unit;  (5) only one grievance has been filed over the years;  and
 (6) none of the Union's officers is employed by the NPS.
 
    The Acting Regional Director dismissed the petitions, finding that
 they were not supported by adequate objective evidence to establish a
 reasonable basis for doubting the Union's majority status or that the
 recent reorganization substantially affected the scope and character of
 the units to the extent they no longer are appropriate.  Thereafter, the
 Authority granted the Activity's request for review, finding, contrary
 to the Acting Regional Director, that the Activity's assertions
 reasonably support a good faith doubt, based on objective
 considerations, of the Union's continued majority status as well as the
 current appropriateness of the units, and remanded the matter to the
 Acting Regional Director.  Subsequently, a hearing was conducted in
 order to establish a full and complete record with respect to all
 issues.
 
    As to the continued appropriateness of the exclusively recognized
 units, the evidence leads the Authority to the conclusion that although
 the two reorganizations which occurred altered the number of employees
 in the bargaining units, nevertheless the mission, scope and character
 of the Western Regional Office did not substantially change.
 
    Thus, the primary mission of the Regional Office has been, and
 continues to be, to provide administrative support for the operation of
 National Parks in California, Hawaii, Nevada, and part of Arizona.  This
 includes planning for the acquisition and development of Federal lands
 and water areas for recreational purposes.  The mission also includes
 providing archaeological services to Federal agencies involved in
 construction efforts.
 
    According to the Activity's personnel management specialist, the
 mission of the abolished HCRS was "to provide planning and financial
 assistance to state and local governments, and also to provide
 enterprise, in the area of outdoor recreation, and also to provide
 heritage conservation services to develop and provide historic
 conservation services to outside groups." The record reveals that
 although the missions of both the Regional Office and the former HCRS
 are now pursued by the Regional Office, no dilution of the primary
 mission of the Regional Office has taken place by the addition of the
 HCRS functions and its former employees to the Regional Office's
 operation.
 
    In sum, the record supports a finding that the reorganization which
 moved HCRS into the Park Service was done to reduce the scope of
 functions that the HCRS had been performing and did not change the
 mission of the Regional Office.  In this connection, according to
 statements attributed to the Secretary of the Interior at the time of
 the reorganization, "the emphasis was now more on going towards
 supporting the existing national parks than being involved in the
 alternative mission."
 
    The units represented by the Union at the Regional Office were
 substantially larger than the HCRS which was abolished and transferred
 into it.  The transfer added only two new job classifications to the
 Regional Office bargaining unit, covering only one employee each.  All
 other job classifications encumbered by former HCRS employees already
 existed in the Regional Office.  Prior to the reorganization, HCRS
 employees were in job classifications similar to those in the Regional
 Office, such as historian, architect, outdoor recreation planner, and
 clerk-typist.  Of some 32 sub-units of the various divisions within the
 Regional Office, only one is composed entirely of former HCRS employees,
 and only three contain more former HCRS employees than Regional Office
 employees.  Essentially, the employees were merged into the Regional
 Office and, in fact, many of the former HCRS employees occupy positions
 that were vacant Regional Office positions.  Currently there are
 approximately 29 employees in the professional employee bargaining unit
 of the Regional Office, of which 9, or 31 percent, were former HCRS
 employees.  There are now about 129 nonprofessional employees, of which
 27, or 21 percent, were formerly with HCRS.  Originally there were 92
 professional and 12 non-professional employees at HCRS.  All employees
 of the Regional Office are governed by the same personnel policies,
 including promotion, reduction-in-force and pay policies;  are
 physically located in the same building and share common facilities;
 and all are under the supervision of the Regional Director.  In these
 circumstances, the Authority is persuaded that the addition of employees
 to the Regional Office because of the reorganization merely eliminated
 the separate function of the office from which the employees were
 transferred, and strengthened and reinforced the continuing mission of
 the Regional Office.  Accordingly, the Authority finds that former HCRS
 employees accreted to units exclusively represented by the Union, and
 that employees in the units continue to share a community of interest.
 Moreover, the units continue to promote effective dealings and
 efficiency of agency operations.  Thus, such units remain appropriate
 for the purpose of exclusive recognition under the Statute and their
 scope and character have not been substantially changed by the foregoing
 circumstances.  See Department of the Interior, National Park Service,
 Mid-Atlantic Regional Office, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 11 FLRA No.
 104 (1983).
 
    With respect to the Activity's assertion of a good faith doubt that
 the Union continues to represent a majority of employees in the existing
 exclusively recognized bargaining units, the Authority finds that the
 Union has not requested negotiations with respect to conditions of
 employment at any time since it became the exclusive bargaining
 representative of the employees in 1971.  Also, during the time that the
 Union has been the exclusive representative, no grievances have been
 filed or processed with the exception of one grievance filed shortly
 before the hearing in this case.  Finally, only 5 of 200 employees were
 on dues withholding at the time of the hearing and no stewards ever have
 been designated to represent the employees in either unit.
 
    The Authority concludes that the foregoing circumstances are
 sufficient to support a good faith doubt by the Activity/Petitioner as
 to the purposes and policies of the Statute to afford the employees in
 such units the opportunity to express their desires with respect to
 continued exclusive representation by that labor organization.
 
    Based on the foregoing, the Authority finds that the following units
 are appropriate for the purpose of exclusive recognition within the
 meaning of the Statute:
 
          All professional employees of the Western Regional Office,
       excluding non-professional employees, management officials,
       supervisors, employees engaged in Federal personnel work other
       than in a purely clerical capacity, and guards.
 
          All non-professional classified employees of the Western
       Regional Office, excluding professional employees, management
       officials, supervisors, employees engaged in Federal personnel
       work other than in a purely clerical capacity, and guards.
 
                           DIRECTION OF ELECTION
 
    An election by secret ballot shall be conducted among the employees
 in the units described above as soon as feasible.  The appropriate
 Regional Director shall supervise or conduct the election, as
 appropriate, subject to the Authority's Rules and Regulations.  Eligible
 to vote are those in the voting groups who were employed during the
 payroll period immediately preceding the date below, including employees
 who did not work during that period b