15:0338(72)RA - DOI, National Park Service, Western Regional Office, San Francisco, CA and NFFE Local 1 -- 1984 FLRAdec RP
[ v15 p338 ]
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 because they were out ill, or on vacation, or on furlough, including those in the military service who appear in person at the polls. Ineligible to vote are employees who have quit or were discharged for cause since the designated payroll period and who have not been rehired or reinstated before the election date. Those eligible shall vote on whether or not they desire to be represented for the purpose of exclusive recognition by the National Federation of Federal Employees, Local 1, Independent. Issued, Washington, D.C., July 24, 1984 Barbara J. Mahone, Chairman Ronald W. Haughton, Member Henry B. Frazier III, Member FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY --------------- FOOTNOTES$ --------------- /1/ Western Regional Office, National Park Service, San Francisco, California, 10 FLRA 502 (1982). /2/ Section 2422.1(c) of the Authority's Rules and Regulations states that an activity or an agency may file a petition seeking to clarify a representation matter "where (it) has a good faith doubt, based on objective considerations, that the currently recognized or certified labor organization represents a majority of the employees in the existing unit or that, because of a substantial change in the character and scope of the unit, it has a good faith doubt that such unit is now appropriate." See also section 2422.2(b) of the Authority's Rules and Regulations to the same effect.