21:0244(34)NG - AFGE, Council 214 and Air Force, HQ AFLC,Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio -- 1986 FLRAdec NG



[ v21 p244 ]
21:0244(34)NG
The decision of the Authority follows:


 21 FLRA No. 34
 
 AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT 
 EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO, COUNCIL 214
 Union
 
 and
 
 DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE, 
 HEADQUARTERS AIR FORCE 
 LOGISTICS COMMAND, 
 WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, OHIO
 Agency
 
                                            Case No. 0-NG-759
 
                DECISION AND ORDER ON NEGOTIABILITY ISSUES
 
    I.  Statement of the Case
 
    This case is before the Authority because of a negotiability appeal
 filed under section 7105 (a)(2)(E) of the Federal Service
 Labor-Management Relations Statute (the Statute) and concerns the
 negotiability of two Union proposals.  /1/
 
    II.  Union Proposal 1
 
       All AFLC employees may be held pecuniarily liable for the loss,
       damage, or destruction of Air Force property when it results from
       gross negligence, willful misconduct, or deliberate unauthorized
       use.  If doubt exists, the individual is not held liable.  (Only
       thy underscored language is in dispute.)
 
    A. Positions of the Parties
 
    The Agency contends that Union Proposal 1 violates its right to
 determine its internal security practices under section 7106(a)(1) of
 the Statute.  The Agency also argues that the proposal is inconsistent
 with its right to decide the methods and means it will use to carry out
 its internal security policy under section 7106(b)(1).
 
    The Union argues that the proposal does not violate management's
 rights, but is a procedure governing the exercise of those rights under
 section 7106(b)(2) of the Statute.
 
    B. Analysis
 
    The Union's proposal would establish the standard to be used in
 determining whether an employee will be required to pay, that is, be
 held "pecuniarily liable," for the loss, damage, or destruction of Air
 Force property.  The Union is proposing that an employee be required to
 pay only when the loss, damage, or destruction of property resulted form
 the employee's "gross" negligence.  The Agency has adopted a regulation
 providing that the employee will be liable where the loss results from
 any negligence.
 
    In National Federation of Federal Employees, Local 29 and Department
 of the Army, Kansas City district, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas
 city, Missouri, 21 FLRA NO. 32 (1986), the Authority considered a
 proposal which would have required an employee to pay no more than
 $150.00 when it was determined that the employee had caused the loss,
 damage, or destruction of Government property.  The Authority found that
 limiting the amount an employee could be required to pay interfered with
 management's right to determine its internal security practices.  We
 reached this conclusion because we found that the agency's policy
 concerning the amount an employee could be required to pay is a part of
 management's plan to eliminate or minimize risks of loss of or damage to
 Government property by making clear to employees the consequences of
 their actions.
 
    For the reasons stated in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, we find that
 the proposal in this case likewise impinges on management's plan to
 prevent damage to or loss of Agency property.  The proposal, therefore,
 directly interferes with management's right to determine its internal
 security practices.  See American Federation of government Employees,
 AFL-CIO, Local 15 and Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue
 Service, North Atlantic Region, 2 FLRA 875 (1980).
 
    We find that the proposal concerns the establishment of the Agency's
 internal security practices rather than the methods and means of
 carrying out that internal security policy.  Therefore, the Agency's
 contention as to section 7106(b)(1) must be rejected.
 
    C. Conclusion
 
    The proposal directly interferes with management's right to determine
 its internal security practices under section 7106(a)(1), and it it
 outside the Agency's duty to bargain.
 
    III.  Union Proposal 2
 
       If a decision is made to hold a bargaining unit employee liable
       for the loss, damage, or destruction of Government property and/or
       take disciplinary action for same, that decision(s) will be stayed
       until an arbitrator issues an award should it be grieved.
 
    A. Positions of the Parties
 
    The Agency contends that Union Proposal 2 is inconsistent with 10
 U.S.C. Section 9835, /2/ which provides that the decision of the
 Secretary of the Air Force with respect to an assessment of pecuniary
 liability shall be final.  The Agency also argues that the proposal
 violates its rights under section 7106(a)(2)(A) to take disciplinary
 action against employees, its right under section 7106(a)(1) to
 determine its internal security practices, and its rights under section
 7106(b)(1) to determine the methods and means of performing work.
 Finally, the Agency contends that the proposal conflicts with Article 5
 of the parties' Master Agreement.
 
    The Union disputes the Agency's arguments, essentially claiming that
 the proposal concerns matters within the scope of the grievance
 procedures and that the proposal is a negotiable procedure under section
 7106(b)(2).
 
    B. Analysis
 
    1. Inconsistent with Law
 
    Union Proposal 2 provides that action against an employee because of
 loss, damage, or destruction of Government property will be stayed until
 an arbitrator issues an award in the case.  Because 10 U.S.C. Section
 9835 gives the Secretary of the Air Force, or his designee, final
 authority to decide issues of employee liability, however, the Agency
 claims that an arbitrator has no authority to review the Agency's
 action.
 
    In International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and United States
 Army Support Command, Hawaii, 14 FLRA 680 (1984), the Authority rules
 that 10 U.S.C. Section 4835 did not preclude an arbitrator from ruling
 on an overturning an assessment of pecuniary liability against an
 employee.  The law relied upon in this case, 10 U.S.C. Section 9835, is
 essentially the same as the law involved in the Army Support Command
 decision.  For the following reasons, we find that 10 U.S.C. Section
 9835 does not prevent an arbitrator from reviewing the application of
 management's plan to prevent loss or damage to Agency property, ie.,
 particular assessments of pecuniary liability against an individual
 employee.
 
    Collection bargaining agreements negotiated under 7121 of the Statute
 must contain grievance procedures which are exclusive for resolving all
 grievances which come within their coverage.  /3/ That is, the
 negotiated grievance procedures may be invoked to settle disputes within
 its coverage despite the existence of internal agency appeals procedures
 or statutory appeals procedures which also cover the matter at issue.
 Specifically, as to internal agency procedures, Congress intended that
 the negotiated grievance procedure replace internal agency grievance
 procedures.  /4/ As to statutory procedures, section 7121(e)(1)
 demonstrates that Congress was aware of other statutory appeals
 procedures when it provided in the procedures.  It is clear that
 Congress intended the negotiated procedures to be an alternative to
 those other statutory procedures.  /5/ Unless it can be shown that the
 Agency's procedures for determining pecuniary liability are intended to
 be the exclusive procedures for resolving that issue, /6/ such matters
 are within the scope of the negotiated procedures.
 
    The courts and the Authority have determined that Federal law outside
 the Statute can limit the scope of the negotiated grievance procedure.
 /7/ However, the fact that 10 U.S.C. 9835 provides that the decision of
 the Secretary of the Air Force as to pecuniary liability is "final" is
 not sufficient to demonstrate that the Air Force procedures are
 exclusive so as to overcome section 7121 of the Statute.  With respect
 to 38 U.S.C. 4110, which provided for the decision of the Administrator
 of the Veterans Administration as to certain matters to be final, the
 Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Veterans Administration Medical
 Center, supra, note 7, stated as follows:
 
       Simply declaring the decision of the Administrator "final" is
       insufficient to produce conflict with the Civil Service Reform
       Act, since Congress obviously contemplated other statutory
       appellate procedures, which had to end somewhere, when it created
       alternative grievance and arbitration procedures available at the
       employee's option in the Civil Service Reform Act, 5 U.S.C.
       7121(e)(1)(Supp. IV 1980).  Any other interpretation would render
       meaningless section 7121(e)(1) of the civil service reform
       legislation, which presupposed some nonexclusive statutory
       appellate procedures that could coexist with the alternative
       grievance and arbitration procedures made available under the
       Civil Service Reform Act.
 
    Veterans Administration Medical Center at 956.
 
    In those cases where the courts and the Authority have found that
 outside law limits the scope of the negotiated procedure there have been
 clear specific indications that the statutory procedures were intended
 to be exclusive.  For example, in each instance, statutory provisions
 covering those procedures provided that they should take effect
 "notwithstanding" any other law.  New Jersey Air National Guard, note 7,
 supra, at 283;  Veterans Administration Medical Center, Minneapolis,
 note 7, supra, at 958;  U.S. Park Police, note 7, supra, at 3 of slip
 decision.  In this case, 10 U.S.C. 9835 does not provide that the
 decisions of the Secretary of the Air Force are final notwithstanding
 any other law.
 
    Furthermore, the legislative history of those procedures indicated
 that they were intended as the exclusive procedures for the matters
 covered.  New Jersey Air National Guard at 283-84;  Veterans
 Administration Medical Center, Minneapolis at 956-57.S. Park Police at
 3-5 of slip decision.  The legislative history of 10 U.S.C. 9835, and of
 10 U.S.C. 4835 pertaining to the Army on which 9835 was modelled,
 indicates that the purpose of these provisions was primarily a matter of
 administrative convenience.  These provisions were intended to
 "decentralize" final authority regarding accountability for Government
 property and to make the system for determining responsibility for loss
 or damage to that property more flexible.  The objective was to expedite
 and facilitate settlement of such matters.  /8/ There is no indication
 that Congress intended to make these decisions unreviewable.  See, e.g.,
 Abel v. United States, 423 F.2d 339, 344 (Ct.Cl. 1970), wherein the
 court held that 10 U.S.C. 9835 refers to finality within the agency and
 does not preclude judicial review.
 
    As the Agency notes, the Comptroller General has held that 10 U.S.C.
 9835 prevents him from reviewing determinations by the Air Force as to
 pecuniary liability.  /9/ That holding represents the determination of
 the Comptroller General as to the limits of his own jurisdiction.  It
 does not require us to conclude that 10 U.S.C. 9835 limits the authority
 of an arbitrator to review such determinations.
 
    In sum, 10 U.S.C. 9835 establishes the final action authority in the
 Air Force for determining pecuniary liability.  It does not prevent
 outside authorities from reviewing those determinations.  Under the
 Statute, the negotiated grievance procedure, including binding
 arbitration, would be the exclusive procedure for resolving disputes as
 to pecuniary liability.
 
    2. Management Rights
 
    The Union's proposal would delay disciplinary action, or a collection
 action in the case of an assessment of pecuniary liability, until a
 final resolution of an employee's grievance.  Contrary to the Agency's
 arguments, the proposal's delay would not amount to interference with
 management's exercise of its rights.  Rather, the Authority has
 consistently held that proposals to stay final agency action pending the
 outcome of the grievance procedure are negotiable procedures under
 section 7106(b)(2) of the Statute because they do not prevent management
 from acting at all with respect to its reserved rights.  American
 Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, Local 1999 and Army-Air
 Force Exchange Service, Dix-McGuire Exchange, Fort Dix, New Jersey, 2
 FLRA 153 (1979), enforced sub nom.  Department of Defense v. FLRA, 659
 F. 2d 1140 (D.C. Cir. 1981).
 
    3. Master Agreement
 
    The Authority has consistently held that we will only decide in a
 negotiability appeal issues which are before us under section
 7105(a)(2)(D) and (E) of the Statute.  If the parties are in dispute as
 to whether this proposal conflicts with the terms of their Master
 Agreement, they may resolve that issue under the procedures provided by
 that Agreement.  See, e.g., Congressional Research Employees Association
 and Library of Congress, 18 FLRA No. 5 (1985).
 
    C. Conclusion
 
    Union Proposal 2 is not inconsistent with 10 U.S.C. 9835.  It is,
 instead, a negotiable procedure under section 7106(b)(2) which would not
 prevent the Agency from acting at all pursuant to its rights under
 section 7106(a)(1), section 7106(a)(2)(A), or section 7106(b)(1) of the
 Statute.
 
    IV.  Order
 
    Accordingly, pursuant to section 2424.10 of the Authority's Rules and
 Regulations, IT IS ORDERED that the Union's appeal as to Union Proposal
 1 be, and it hereby is, dismissed.  IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the
 Agency shall upon request, or as otherwise agreed to by the parties,
 bargain on Union Proposal 2.  /10/
 
    Issued, Washington, D.C., Apri1 8, 1986
                                       (s)---
                                       Jerry L. Calhoun, Chairman
                                       (s)---
                                       Henry B. Frazier III, Member
                                       FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY
 
 
 
 
 
 --------------- FOOTNOTES$ ---------------
 
 
 
 
    /1/ The Union's appeal originally involved ten proposals.  In its
 Reply to the Agency's Statement of Position, the Union requested that
 eight proposals be withdrawn from its appeal.  We grant the Union's
 request and those proposals will not be considered in this case.
 
 
    /2/ 10 U.S.S. 9835 provides:
 
       9835.  Reports of survey
 
          (a) Under such regulations as the Secretary of the Air Force
       may prescribe, any officer of the Air Force designated by him may
       act upon reports of surveys and vouchers pertaining to the loss,
       spoilage, unserviceability, unsuitability, or destruction of or
       damage to property of the United States under the control of the
       Department of the Air Force.
 
          (b) Action taken under subsection (a) is final, except that
       action holding a person pecuniarily liable for loss, spoilage,
       destruction, or damage is not final