17:0959(128)AR - Region III, SSA, HHS and Region III, AFGE National Council of SSA Field Operations Locals -- 1985 FLRAdec AR



[ v17 p959 ]
17:0959(128)AR
The decision of the Authority follows:


 17 FLRA No. 128
 
 REGION III, SOCIAL SECURITY 
 ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF 
 HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES 
 Activity 
 
 and 
 
 REGION III, AFGE NATIONAL COUNCIL 
 OF SSA FIELD OPERATIONS LOCALS 
 Union
 
                                            Case No. 0-AR-571
 
                                 DECISION
 
    This matter is before the Authority on an exception to the award of
 Arbitrator Gladys Gershenfeld filed by the Activity under section
 7122(a) of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute and
 part 2425 of the Authority's Rules and Regulations.
 
    The dispute in this matter arose when the Activity changed the lunch
 and rest breaks of employees in a number of offices to ensure that all
 employees in all of its offices were provided with a 30-minute unpaid
 lunch break and two 15-minute paid rest breaks separate from the lunch
 break.  More specifically, the Activity terminated a long-standing
 practice in 20 of its offices of granting employees 10 to 15 minutes
 paid time in connection with their 30-minute unpaid lunch periods,
 changed another practice in 3 offices of granting employees an
 additional 15 minutes of paid time on payday for personal banking
 purposes, and changed the rest-break practices in 14 offices, increasing
 the rest-break time in 13 of those offices to ensure that the employees
 were given the two 15-minute paid rest breaks each day.  The Arbitrator
 found that the daily extensions of the lunch break, with additional time
 on payday in some offices, constituted established past practices.  The
 Arbitrator determined that the past practice provision in the parties'
 collective bargaining agreement was controlling in this situation in the
 absence of any contrary laws or government-wide rules or regulations.
 Finding no legal, regulatory or contractural prohibitions against the
 practice of granting the paid-time extensions of the lunch break and
 further finding that management had the authority to grant paid time off
 under its authority to grant administrative leave, the Arbitrator
 concluded that the Activity violated the parties' agreement when it
 unilaterally changed the established practices.  As a remedy, the
 Arbitrator directed the Activity, among other things, to reinstate and
 continue the practices.
 
    In its exceptions to that portion of the Arbitrator's award, the
 Activity principally alleges that the award is contrary to 5 U.S.C.
 6101(a).  /1/ The Authority agrees.
 
    Under 5 U.S.C. 6101, agencies are required to schedule 40 hours of
 work per week for each full-time employee and, when possible, to
 schedule the work in five day