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
[ v15 p858 ]
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 function after June 30, 1982. While the Union's letter sought to have the Activity transfer dues checkoff to another AFGE local, the letter did not state that AFGE Local 502 was being merged with AFGE Local 1997 or that the Activity should otherwise treat AFGE Local 1997 as the successor to AFGE Local 502 and the exclusive representative of its employees. Further, there is no record evidence that AFGE Local 1997 sought to act as the representative of the Activity's caretaker employees at any time between AFGE Local 502's disclaimer and the filing of the Activity/Petitioner's RA petition in February, 1983. Accordingly, the Authority concludes that the employees of the Activity/Petitioner have not had an exclusive representative since June 30, 1982, and that since that date the Activity/Petitioner has had no statutory bargaining obligation to the former exclusive representative. The Authority therefore concludes that there is no basis for amending the exclusive recognition for the Activity/Petitioner's employees as sought by AFGE Local 1997 in its AC petition in Case No. 5-AC-30003. ORDER IT IS ORDERED that the petition in Case No. 5-RA-30001 challenging the continued representation of a unit of all Air Force employees of the 4787th Air Base Group, Duluth International Airport, Duluth, Minnesota, for which the American Federation of Government Employees, Local 502, AFL-CIO, has been the recognized exclusive representative be, and it hereby is, granted since the Activity/Petitioner's bargaining obligation no longer exists. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the petition in Case No. 5-AC-30003 seeking to change the name of the exclusive representative of the employees of the 4787th Air Base Group, Duluth International Airport, Duluth, Minnesota, from American Federation of Government Employees, Local 502, AFL-CIO to American Federation of Government Employees, Local 1997, AFL-CIO, be and it hereby is, denied. Issued, Washington, D.C., August 30, 1984 Barbara J. Mahone, Chairman Ronald W. Haughton, Member Henry B. Frazier III, Member FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY --------------- FOOTNOTES$ --------------- /1/ The name of the Activity appears as amended at the hearing. /2/ AFGE Local 502 had previously represented various Air Force elements which were included in the 1967 grant of exclusive recognition. By 1982, the Air Force no longer maintained facilities at Burdette or Finland, Minnesota.