20:0224(29)RO - Transportatioon, FAA, New England Region and AFGE and NFFE and Independent Union of Air Traffic Specialists and NFFE Local 1340 and FAA, Atlantic City Air Traffic Control Tower and AFGE -- 1985 FLRAdec RO



[ v20 p224 ]
20:0224(29)RO
The decision of the Authority follows:


20 FLRA No. 29

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION 
FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION 
NEW ENGLAND REGION 
Activity 

and 

AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT 
EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO 
Labor Organization/Petitioner 

NATIONAL FEDERATION OF FEDERAL
EMPLOYEES, INDEPENDENT 
Labor Organization/Intervenor 

INDEPENDENT UNION OF AIR TRAFFIC SPECIALISTS 
Labor Organization/Intervenor

                                                                                              Case No.3-RO-50001

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION 
FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION 
BRADLEY WINDSOR LOCKS CONTROL TOWER 
Activity 

and 

INDEPENDENT UNION OF AIR TRAFFIC SPECIALISTS 
Labor Organization/Petitioner 

                                                                                                 Case No. 31-RO-40007

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION 
FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION
ATLANTIC-CITY AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL TOWER 
Activity 

and

NATIONAL FEDERATION OF FEDERAL 
EMPLOYEES, LOCAL 1340, INDEPENDENT 
Labor Organization/Petitioner 

                                                                                                  Case No. 32-RO-40010

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION 
FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION
ATLANTIC-CITY AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL TOWER 
Activity 

and 

AMERICAN FEDERATIONOF GOVERNMENT 
EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO 
Labor Organization/Petitioner

                                                                                              Case No. 32-RO-40012

                           DECISION AND ORDER

   On June 17, 1985, the Authority granted the Application for Review
and Request for a Stay of the Regional Director's Decision, Order and
Direction of Election filed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
in Case No. 3-RO-50001.  /1/ In his Decision, the Regional Director
found that a unit of air traffic control specialists, automation
specialists and air traffic assistants who are engaged in air traffic
control duties, employed with the New England Region, Federal Aviation
Administration, petitioned for by the American Federation of Government
Employees, AFL-CIO (AFGE), was appropriate for the purpose of exclusive
recognition under the Statute.  The FAA in its application for review
contended, pursuant to section 2422.17(c)(1) of the Authority's Rules
and Regulations, that its application for review should be granted on
the grounds that unique and extraordinary issues are presented which
have not been previously considered by the Authority.  The Authority
granted review of the FAA's application for review on the basis that it
appeared that a compelling reason exists pursuant to the provisions of
section 2422.17(c)(1) of the Authority's Rules and Regulations.  /2/ The
parties were given 15 days to provide the Authority with any additional
information and arguments that might be relevant to the determination of
this application.  Supplementary briefs were filed by the FAA, AFGE, the
National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) and the Air Transport
Association of America (ATA).  /3/

   The FAA contends that the only appropriate unit is a nationwide unit
of all air traffic controllers.  It argues that the Regional Director's
decision:  (1) will not promote safe and efficient agency operations,
but will result in a fragmented, diverse approach to work rules,
practices, and safety issues;  (2) will hinder effective accomplishment
of the greatest safety in air traffic movement, and will not promote
agency efficiency as required by section 7112 of the Statute;  /4/ and
(3) will hinder effective labor-management bargaining because control
over such bargaining rests at FAA Headquarters.  FAA further argues that
there is no clear and identifiable community of interest among employees
within the New England Region that is separate and distinct from other
FAA employees in the other eight regions, but rather that a community of
interest exists among all of its air traffic controllers nationwide.
The ATA supports the FAA's contention that the establishment of regional
bargaining units would have a detrimental effect on both the efficiency
and safety of the National Air Traffic System (NATS).  ATA contends that
only a nationwide unit with its inherent stability, uniformity and
control would be appropriate in this case.

   AFGE and NFFE contend, in support of the Regional Director's
Decision, that a region-wide unit is appropriate under the criteria set
forth in section 7112(a)(1) of the Statute.  AFGE further contends that
the FAA has not presented any evidence to demonstrate that a regional
unit "creates the unacceptable risk of a diminution in the safe and
efficient operations of the air traffic system;  decreases the level of
cooperation, trust, and standardization in the system;  and raises the
potential for divisions . . . " In this regard, both AFGE and NFFE argue
that section 7106 of the Statute limits the scope of bargaining to the
degree that standardization will not be threatened.  They also argue
that day-to-day operations including labor relations, are performed at
the regional level, and that FAA presently has the organizational
structure to deal with a regional bargaining unit in an efficient and
effective manner.

   The FAA, an agency within the Department of Transportation, is
charged with ensuring the safe and efficient use of the nation's
airspace, promoting aviation safety, and operating a nationwide system
of air navigation.  It operates more than 450 separate air traffic
control facilities throughout the contiguous 48 states, Alaska, Puerto
Rico and Hawaii.  These facilities include Air Traffic Control Towers
(ATCTs), Air Route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCCs), and Radar Approach
Control Facilities (RAPCONs or TRACONs).  The New England Region, which
is one of nine regions within the FAA, contains a number of ATCTs as
well as a large ARTCC near Boston.  Employed within the New England
Region are nearly 600 controllers, 25 Automation Specialists and more
than 40 Air Traffic Assistants.

   The record shows that the FAA's air traffic operating procedures as
well as its overall personnel and labor relations policies are
established at the FAA's Washington, D.C. Headquarters.  Handbook
regulations and policy statements are prepared at FAA Headquarters
governing such technical aspects of air traffic control as aircraft
separation requirements and emergency and inclement weather procedures.
In addition, the FAA Headquarters staff authors publications concerning
such vital personnel matters as equal employment opportunity (EEO),
promotion and recruitment policies.  Further, the record reveals that an
employee handbook, containing an overview of personnel rules and
benefits applicable to all FAA employees, has been made available by FAA
Headquarters on a nationwide basis.

   FAA Headquarters employs a labor relations staff which assumes
primary responsibility for negotiating and administering collective
bargaining agreements covering existing nationwide units of flight
service specialists represented by the National Association of Air
Traffic Specialists (NAATS) and airway facilities employees represented
by the Professional Airways Systems Specialists (PASS).  The
Headquarters Labor Relations Office also is responsible for the
functioning of the labor relations program on a national level and sets
policy which is implemented at the regional level.

   The record indicates that while the FAA's nine regional directors do
have a degree of autonomy in the day-to-day operation of their regions
and numerous personnel and labor relations matters are handled within
each region, these operations are carried out in accordance with FAA
national orders and directives.  Further, while at present all the air
traffic control specialists employed by the FAA are unrepresented by any
labor organization, the air traffic control specialists were exclusively
represented by the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization
(PATCO) in a nationwide unit, pursuant to the decision of the Assistant
Secretary of Labor for Labor-Management Relations in Federal Aviation
Administration, Department of Transportation, 2 A/SLMR 340(1972) that
such nation-wide unit was appropriate and his direction of a secret
ballot election therein, from 1972 until October 1981, when PATCO was
decertified by the Authority in Professional Air Traffic Controllers
Organization, 7 FLRA 34(1981), aff'd 685 F.2d 547 (D.C. Cir. 1982).
During that period, a collective bargaining relationship existed between
the FAA and PATCO concerning the air traffic controllers' conditions of
employment at the national level.

   In his Decision, Order and Direction of Election herein, the Regional
Director found that a unit consisting of all air traffic control
specialists, automation specialists, and air traffic assistants who are
engaged in air traffic control duties, employed within the New England
Region, Federal Aviation Administration, was appropriate for the purpose
of exclusive recognition under the Statute.  He based such findings on
the following factors:  (1) the regional unit is co-extensive in scope
with a major subcomponent of the FAA and conforms to the FAA's regional
personnel and labor relations structure;  (2) the regional director has
significant operational and administrative responsibilities within the
region and has broad authority in matters involving overtime pay, awards
and staffing;  (3) there is common supervision of all regional
employees;  (4) all controllers within the FAA's New England Region are
covered under the same merit promotion, EEO and agency grievance
procedures;  and (5) the majority of controller reassignments are
accomplished on an intra-regional basis.

   Based on established precedent, see, e.g., cases cited at n. 5,
infra, and the particular circumstances of this case, the Authority
disagrees with the Regional Director's conclusion that a region-wide
unit is appropriate herein.  While the Regional Director's Decision does
contain factual support for his finding that the employees sought to be
represented within the New England Region share a community of interest,
his Decision fails to recognize and properly evaluate the facts which
clearly demonstrate that this same community of interest is equally
shared by all air traffic control specialists employed throughout the
FAA.  The record indicates that the specific mission of all the air
traffic control facilities within the FAA is to ensure the safe and
efficient use of the nation's airspace, promote aviation safety, and
operate a nationwide system of air navigation;  that the working
conditions, skills required and the duties performed by the employees of
the New England Region at issue herein are the same for all such
employees in the nine regions of the FAA;  there is interchange and
transfer of air traffic control specialists among the various regions;
air traffic control specialist positions are advertised on a nationwide
basis;  that personnel policies and practices are centrally established
and administered at FAA Headquarters and apply uniformly to all
employees of the FAA, not just to the employees of the New England
Region;  and that labor relations policy also is centrally established
for the entire FAA employee complement at FAA Headquarters.  In this
regard, while each FAA regional director has some autonomy in handling
day-to-day problems involving personnel and labor relations matters, he
must strictly adhere to the guidelines and directives promulgated by FAA
Headquarters.  Further, all air traffic control specialists receive the
same training and must maintain the same level of proficiency.  Under
all of these circumstances, the Authority concludes that the employees
of the New England Region do not share a clear and identifiable
community of interest separate and distinct from the other employees of
the FAA.

   Further, in disagreement with the Regional Director, the Authority
finds that the proposed unit would not promote effective dealings within
the FAA.  In this regard, as previously discussed, FAA Headquarters
establishes and administers common personnel policies and practices for
all employees of the FAA, negotiating expertise is concentrated at FAA
Headquarters where labor relations policy is established for all
employees of the FAA, and there is both an established practice of
bargaining at the national level for currently represented FAA employees
and a past history of effective nationwide bargaining for air traffic
control specialists.  In light of these factual determinations, and for
the reasons previously stated, the Authority concludes that the Regional
Director's finding below that the proposed unit would promote effective
dealings within the FAA is inconsistent with the purposes and policies
of the Statute, especially the policy of promoting a more comprehensive
bargaining unit structure.

   Finally, with respect to efficiency of agency operations, the
Regional Director failed to give adequate weight to the unique
importance of the National Air Traffic System and the strict requirement
of nationwide uniformity to ensure the safety of the millions of people
who use the air transport system.  In this regard, a nationwide unit
conforming to the centralized operational and organizational structure
of the FAA would result in uniform policies, practices and working
conditions nationally, and would reduce the potential for inconsistency
among the regional offices.  The Regional Director also failed to give
adequate weight to the fact that the employees in the unit sought enjoy
a commonality of mission, personnel policies and practices and matters
affecting working conditions with all air traffic control specialists of
the FAA.  Accordingly, in light of these considerations, and for the
reasons previously stated, the Authority concludes that the Regional
Director's finding that the proposed unit would promote the efficiency
of the FAA's operations is inconsistent with the purposes and policies
as set forth in section 7112(a)(1) of the Statute.

   In conclusion, under all the circumstances of this case, the
Authority finds that the region-wide unit petitioned for by the AFGE is
inappropriate for the purposes of exclusive recognition under the
Statute.  /5/ Accordingly, the Authority shall order that the petition
in Case No. 3-RO-50001 be dismissed.  /6/

                                  ORDER

   IT IS ORDERED that the petition in Case No. 3-RO-50001 be, and it
hereby is, dismissed.

   Issued, Washington, D.C., September 20, 1985
                                      (s) HENRY B. FRAZIER III
                                      Henry B. Frazier III, Acting
                                      Chairman
                                      (s) WILLIAM J. MCGINNIS JR.
                                      William J. McGinnis, Jr., Member
                                      FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY






--------------- FOOTNOTES$ ---------------


   /1/ The Regional Director in his Decision, Order and Direction of
Election found that the three single facility units petitioned for were
inappropriate and dismissed the petitions in Case Nos. 32-RO-40010,
32-RO-40012 and 31-RO-40007.  As no application for review was filed
with respect to the Regional Director's dismissal of these petitions,
such actions have become final and are not at issue herein.


   /2/ Section 2422.17(c)(1) provides:

         (c) The Authority may grant an application for review only
      where it appears that compelling reasons exist therefor.
      Accordingly, an application for review may be granted only upon
      one or more of the following grounds:

         (1) That a substantial question of law or policy is raised
      because of (i) the absence of, or (ii) a departure from, Authority
      precedent(.)


   /3/ The Authority in its June 17, 1985 Order, granted ATA's motion to
participate as amicus curiae with regard to this application for review
pursuant to section 2429.9 of the Authority's Rules and Regulations.


   /4/ Section 7112(a)(1) provides:

         Section 7112.  Determinati