15:0858(162)RA - Duluth International Airport, 4787th Air Base Group, Duluth, MN and AFGE Local 502; Duluth International Airport, 4787th Air Base Group, Duluth, MN and AFGE Local 1997 -- 1984 FLRAdec RP



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15:0858(162)RA
The decision of the Authority follows:


 15 FLRA No. 162
 
 DULUTH INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
 4787th AIR BASE GROUP
 DULUTH, MINNESOTA
 Activity/Petitioner /1/
 
 and
 
 AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT
 EMPLOYEES, LOCAL 502, AFL-CIO
 Labor Organization
 
                                            Case No. 5-RA-30001
 
 and
 
 DULUTH INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
 4787th AIR BASE GROUP
 DULUTH, MINNESOTA
 Activity /1/
 
 and
 
 AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT
 EMPLOYEES, LOCAL 1997, AFL-CIO
 Petitioner
 
                                            Case No. 5-AC-30003
 
                            DECISION AND ORDER
 
    Upon petitions duly filed with the Federal Labor Relations Authority
 under section 7111(b)(2) of the Federal Service Labor-Management
 Relations Statute (the Statute), a hearing was held before a hearing
 officer of the Authority.  The Authority has reviewed the hearing
 officer's rulings made at the hearing and finds that they are free from
 prejudicial error.  The rulings are hereby affirmed.
 
    Upon the entire record in this case, the Authority finds:  Since
 1967, American Federation of Government Employees, Local 502, AFL-CIO,
 (AFGE Local 502) has been the exclusive representative of a unit
 consisting of all appropriated fund eligible Air Force employees in the
 commuting areas of Burdette, Duluth and Finland, Minnesota who are
 serviced by the Civilian Personnel Office, 4787th Air Base Group, Duluth
 International Airport, Duluth, Minnesota.  /2/ On October 10, 1981, the
 Air Force announced its decision to phase out the active Air Force
 support units at Duluth International Airport.  By the end of September
 1982, the Airport was effectively terminated as an active Air Force
 facility.  During this period the unit went from 350 appropriated fund
 employees who were represented by AFGE Local 502 to a caretaker force of
 some 30 employees.  These employees were converted from career status to
 term appointments of from 1 to 4 years.
 
    The final collective bargaining agreement between the Activity and
 AFGE Local 502 terminated on October 1, 1981.  On June 25, 1982, AFGE
 Local 502's Secretary-Treasurer sent a letter to the Activity stating
 that AFGE Local 502 would "officially disband" on June 30, 1982, but
 that some of the caretaker employees at the Airport wanted to keep their
 benefits as members of the American Federation of Government Employees
 and that their dues remissions should henceforth be submitted to
 American Federation of Government Employees, Local 1997, AFL-CIO (AFGE
 Local 1997), which represents employees at the Minneapolis Air Force
 Base.  The letter made no statement about the continued representation
 of the Activity's employees.  There is no record evidence regarding the
 representation of the caretaker employees at any time between the June
 25, 1982 letter from AFGE Local 502 and the filing of the AC petition by
 AFGE Local 1997 on March 16, 1983.  The AC petition was accompanied by a
 letter from the National Vice President of AFGE to a Field Agent in
 Region V of the Federal Labor Relations Authority which states that AFGE
 Local 502 has "officially been merged" with AFGE Local 1997 and that
 AFGE "retains recognition" for the caretaker force of the Activity.
 
    In Case No. 5-RA-30001, the Activity/Petitioner contends that it has
 a good faith doubt as to the continued majority status of AFGE Local 502
 based on the letter the Activity received from the exclusive
 representative in late June 1982 to the effect that it was officially
 disbanding, and the lack of any active representation of the Activity's
 employees since that time.  Alternatively, the Activity/Petitioner
 alleges a good faith doubt as to the continuing appropriateness of the
 unit subsequent to the reorganization and the closing of the Activity as
 an active Air Force facility.  AFGE Local 1997, by its petition in Case
 No. 5-AC-30003, contends that AFGE Local 502 merged with AFGE Local 1997
 and it seeks to amend the certification of representation to reflect the
 fact that AFGE Local 1997 is the exclusive representative of the
 Activity's employees.  In support of its AC petition, AFGE Local 1997
 contends that it has continued to represent the interests of the
 Activity's caretaker employees and that the unit for which AFGE Local
 502 was certified remains viable for the purpose of exclusive
 representation despite its diminished size.
 
    Section 2422.2(b)(1) of the Authority's Rules and Regulations
 provides, in pertinent part, that an activity or agency petition seeking
 clarification of a matter relating to representation shall, among other
 things, contain "a statement that the activity or agency 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." /3/ Based on the facts set forth above,
 the Authority concludes that the Activity/Petitioner has established a
 reasonable basis for its good faith doubt that AFGE Local 502, or a
 successor, represents a majority of the employees in the existing unit.
 Thus, AFGE Local 502, by its letter of June 25, 1982 to the Activity,
 indicated that it would no longer functi