16:0944(126)CA - Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans Hospital, Columbia, MO and AFGE Local 3399 -- 1984 FLRAdec CA

[ v16 p944 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:

 16 FLRA No. 126
 Charging Party
                                            Case No. 7-CA-757
                            DECISION AND ORDER
    This matter is before the Authority pursuant to the Acting Regional
 Director's "Order Transferring Case to the Federal Labor Relations
 Authority" in accordance with section 2429.1(a) of the Authority's Rules
 and Regulations.
    Upon consideration of the entire record in this case, including the
 stipulation of facts and the parties' contentions, the Authority finds:
    The complaint alleges, in essence, that the Respondent violated
 section 7116(a)(1) and (5) of the Federal Service Labor-Management
 Relations Statute (the Statute) when it failed and refused to negotiate
 ground rules for bargaining concerning the Respondent's proposed Upward
 Mobility Program.
    On July 16, 1980, the Respondent notified the Union of the Program,
 inviting the Union's review and comments.  Thereafter, the Union
 requested to negotiate over the Program, and the Respondent, in a
 memorandum acknowledging the Union's request, named its team and
 scheduled a negotiation date.  The Union responded by requesting 30 days
 to prepare proposals, suggested a different date for negotiations, and
 submitted a proposal for ground rules.  In a memorandum dated August 18,
 1980, the Respondent declined to negotiate ground rules, contending that
 negotiating formal ground rules for implementing or changing personnel
 policies, procedures, or working conditions is inappropriate except in
 formal contract negotiations.  However, the record reflects that the
 parties met on September 8, 1980, and for several days thereafter
 negotiated over the Program and eventually reached an agreement.  The
 Respondent stipulated that at no time did it negotiate or reach
 agreement with the Union on ground rules.  The parties view the primary
 issue herein to be whether or not the Respondent had an obligation to
 bargain concerning ground rules for the negotiation of a change in
 conditions of employment which management proposed during the term of
 the parties' collective bargaining agreement.
    Subsequent to the issuance of the complaint in this case, the
 Authority concluded, in finding a violation of the Statute by an agency
 that refused to provide official time to a union representative during
 ground rule negotiations, that ground rule negotiations are not separate
 from the collective bargaining process and the parties' mutual
 obligation to bargain in good faith.  Department of Defense Dependents
 Schools, 14 FLRA 40 (1984).  See also Environmental Protection Agency,
 16 FLRA 87 (1984).
    In the instant case, the Authority similarly concludes that the
 Respondent failed to fulfill its obligation to negotiate in good faith
 when it refused to bargain over the Union's ground rule proposal and
 thereby violated section 7116(a)(1) and (5) of the Statute.  Respondent
 gave as a reason for its refusal its contention that ground rule
 bargaining is inappropriate except during formal contract negotiations.
 Inasmuch as the Authority has already concluded that the negotiation of
 ground rules is part of the collective bargaining process and the mutual
 obligation of the parties to negotiate in good faith, such a contention
 is clearly without merit.  Moreover, the Authority has found no
 distinction in the good faith bargaining process between formal contract
 negotiations and negotiations conducted as a result of a change in
 conditions of employment made during the term of a collective bargaining
 agreement.  /1/ Finally, the Respondent contends that no violation
 should be found since it negotiated an agreement with the Union over the
 Upward Mobility Program.  Inasmuch as Respondent has refused to bargain
 about ground rules and has never agreed to bargain with the Union on
 that subject, the Authority finds Respondent's contention in this regard
 is without merit.  In these circumstances, the Authority finds that the
 purposes and policies of the Statute will be best effectuated by an
 order requiring the Respondent to bargain in good faith regarding ground
 rule proposals which may be submitted in connection with future
    Pursuant to section 2423.29 of the Rules and Regulations of the
 Authority and section 7118 of the Statute, the Authority hereby orders
 that the Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans Hospital, Columbia, Missouri,
    1.  Cease and desist from:
    (a) Refusing to bargain over ground rules proposed by the American
 Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, Local 3399, the exclusive
 representative of its employees, concerning the negotiation of its
 Upward Mobility Program.
    (b) In any like or related manner interfering with, restraining or
 coercing its employees in the exercise of their rights assured by the
    2.  Take the following affirmative action in order to effectuate the
 purposes and policies of the Statute.
    (a) Bargain in good faith with the American Federation of Government
 Employees, AFL-CIO, Local 3399, the exclusive representative of its
 employees, over ground rule proposals which may be submitted in
 connection with future negotiations conducted under the Statute.
    (b) Post at its Columbia, Missouri facilities 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 an
 authorized representative of the Respondent 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
 insure that such Notices are not altered, defaced, or covered by any
    (c) Pursuant to section 2423.30 of the Authority's Rules and
 Regulations, notify the Regional Director, Region VII, 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.
    Issued, Washington, D.C., December 18, 1984
                                       /s/ HENRY B. FRAZIER III
                                       Henry B. Frazier III, Acting
                                       /s/ RONALD W. HAUGHTON
                                       Ronald W. Haughton, Member
                                       FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY