22:0399(40)CA - VA Outpatient Clinic, Los Angeles, CA and AFGE Local 2297 -- 1986 FLRAdec CA



[ v22 p399 ]
22:0399(40)CA
The decision of the Authority follows:


 22 FLRA No. 40
 
 VETERANS ADMINISTRATION 
 OUTPATIENT CLINIC 
 LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
 Respondent
 
 and
 
 AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT 
 EMPLOYEES, LOCAL 2297, AFLO-CIO
 Charging Party
 
                                            Case No. 8-CA-50180
 
                            DECISION AND ORDER
 
    The Administrative Law Judge issued the attached Decision in the
 above-entitled proceeding, finding that the Respondent had engaged in
 certain unfair labor practices alleged in the complaint and recommending
 that it be ordered to cease and desist therefrom and take certain
 affirmative action.  Thereafter, the Respondent filed exceptions to the
 Judge's Decision.
 
    Pursuant to section 2423.29 of the Authority's Rules and Regulations
 and section 7118 of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations
 Statute (the Statute), the Authority has reviewed the rulings of the
 Judge made at the hearing and finds that no prejudicial error was
 committed.  The rulings are hereby affirmed.  Upon consideration of the
 Judge's decision and the entire record the Authority adopts the Judge's
 findings, /1/ conclusions, and recommended Order.  /2/
 
                                   ORDER
 
    Pursuant to section 2423.29 of the Federal Labor Relations
 Authority's Rules and Regulations and section 7118 of the Statute, it is
 hereby ordered that the Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic, Los
 Angeles, California shall:
 
    1.  Cease and desist from:
 
          (a) Failing and refusing to implement the agreement with the
       American Federation of Government Employees, Local 2297, AFL-CIO,
       the employees' exclusive representative, concerning the
       establishment of a lunch-break area on the second floor of 417
       South Hill Street, Los Angeles, California consonant with laws and
       regulations governing such matters.
 
          (b) In any like or related manner interfering with, restraining
       or coercing employees in the exercise of their rights assured by
       the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute.
 
    2.  Take the following affirmative action in order to effectuate the
 purposes and policies of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations
 Statute:
 
          (a) Implement the agreement reached with the American
       Federation of Government Employees, Local 2297, AFL-CIO, the
       employees' exclusive representative, concerning the establishment
       of a lunch-break area on the second floor of 417 South Hill
       Street, Los Angeles, California consonant with laws and
       regulations governing such matters.
 
          (b) Post at its Los Angeles California Outpatient Clinic 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 the Clinic Director, or his designee, 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 other material.
 
          (c) Pursuant to section 2423.30 of the Authority's Rules and
       Regulations, notify the Regional Director, Region VIII, Federal
       Labor Relations Authority, 350 South Figueroa Street, 10th Floor,
       Los Angeles, California 90071, 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., July 9, 1986.
 
                                       /s/ Jerry L. Calhoun, Chairman
                                       /s/ Henry B. Frazier III, Member
                                       FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY
 
                          NOTICE TO ALL EMPLOYEES
 
  PURSUANT TO A DECISION AND ORDER OF THE FEDERAL LABOR
 RELATIONS
 AUTHORITY AND IN ORDER TO EFFECTUATE THE POLICIES OF CHAPTER 71
 OF TITLE
 5 OF THE UNITED STATES CODE FEDERAL SERVICE LABOR-MANAGEMENT
 RELATIONS
 WE HEREBY NOTIFY OUR EMPLOYEES THAT:
 
    WE WILL NOT fail or refuse to implement the agreement reached with
 the American Federation of Government Employees, Local 2297, AFL-CIO,
 the employees' exclusive representative, concerning the establishment of
 a lunch-break area on the second floor of 417 South Hill Street, Los
 Angeles, California consonant with laws and regulations governing such
 matters.
 
    WE WILL NOT in any like or related manner, interfere with, restrain,
 or coerce employees in the exercise of their rights assured by the
 Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute.
 
    WE WILL implement the agreement reached with the American Federation
 of Government Employees, Local 2297, AFL-CIO, the employees' exclusive
 representative, concerning the establishment of a lunch-break area on
 the second floor of 417 South Hill Street, Los Angeles, California
 consonant with laws and regulations governing such matters.
 
    (Activity
 
    Dated:  . . .
 
    By:  (signature) (Title)
 
    This Notice must remain posted for 60 consecutive days from the date
 of posting, and must not be altered, defaced, or covered by any other
 material.
 
    If employees have any questions concerning this Notice or compliance
 with its provisions, they may communicate directly with the Regional
 Director, Region VIII, whose address is:  350 South Figueroa Street,
 10th Floor, Los Angeles, California 90071 and whose telephone number is:
  (213) 688-3805.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 -------------------- ALJ$ DECISION FOLLOWS --------------------
 
    Case No. 8-CA-50180
 
    VETERANS ADMINISTRATION OUTPATIENT CLINIC, 
    LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
    Respondent
 
                                    and
 
    AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES,  
    LOCAL 2297, AFL-CIO
    Charging Party
 
 
    Ruth M. Weil, Esq.
    For the Respondent
 
    Deborah S. Wagner, Esq.
    For the General Counsel
 
    Before:  SALVATORE J. ARRIGO
    Administrative Law Judge
 
                                 DECISION
 
                           Statement of the Case
 
    This case arose under the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations
 Statute, Chapter 71 of Title 5 of the U.S. Code, 5 U.S.C. Section 7101,
 et seq.
 
    Upon an unfair labor practice charge filed by American Federation of
 Government Employees, Local 2297, AFL-CIO (herein referred to as the
 Union) against the Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic, Los
 Angeles, California (herein referred to as Respondent), the General
 Counsel of the Authority, by the Regional Director for Region VIII,
 issued a Complaint and Notice of Hearing alleging Respondent violated
 the Statute by failing and refusing to effectuate an agreement reached
 with the Union concerning establishing a break area for employees at an
 office facility located at 417 South Hill Street, Los Angeles,
 Calfornia.
 
    A hearing on the Complaint was conducted in Los Angeles, California
 at which Respondent and the General Counsel were represented and
 afforded full opportunity to adduce evidence, call, examine and
 cross-examine witnesses and argue orally.  Briefs were filed by
 Respondent and the General Counsel and have been carefully considered.
 
    Upon the entire record in this case, my observation of the witnesses
 and their demeanor and from my evaluation of the evidence, I make the
 following:
 
                             Findings of Fact
 
    At all times material herein the American Federation of Government
 Employees, AFL-CIO, has been the exclusive collective bargaining
 representative of certain of Respondent's employees working in its
 Outpatient Clinic in various portions of the Subway Terminal Building, a
 privately owned structure located at 417-425 South Hill Street, Los
 Angeles.  Officers of Local 2297 represent bargaining unit employees in
 dealings with Respondent at that site.  In early 1984 the Union became
 aware that Respondent was considering relocating some of the employees
 to the second floor of 417 South Hill Street, a floor not previously
 leased by Respondent /3/ containing almost 11,000 square feet of space.
 As plans progressed the Union made various inquiries into the matter.
 According to the testimony of Vincent Mannino, Local 2297 Chief Steward,
 the Union conveyed specific concerns to Respondent in a Labor-Management
 meeting on June 21, 1984 attended by Mannino, Local 2297 President Lula
 Mae Jones, Harold T. Rowan, Personnel Officer and a "recorder".  /4/
 Mannino testified that part of the Union's concerns discussed on June 21
 included moving Union offices then located at 425 South Hill Street to
 larger quarters in the new space at 417 South Hill Street and providing
 employees who would be located on the second floor with a lunch-break
 area.  Management's minutes of this meeting stated, inter alia:
 
                            "3.  Space-Moves:
 
          "Union request the Personnel Officer to remind management of
       contractual obligation to keep them informed of any space-move
       which will involve bargaining unit employees.  Regarding the 2
       proposed moves, some of the items AFGE is concerned about are:
 
          "a.  New Building:  1.  Parking for employees. 2.  AFGE's
       office location. 3.  Carpeting. 4.  Lounge areas, how many, where
       located. 5.  Cafeteria -- Restrooms, where located. 6.  Reserved
       parking for the AFGE officials, handicapped employees.
 
          "b.  Second Floor -- 417 South Hill Street:  1.  Has the space
       been approved?  2.  When will the move take place?  3.  What
       employees will be affected?  4.  Health, safety, security
       precautions."
 
    Mannino testified management indicated during the meeting that it
 would "get back to" the Union on their requests.  Although the June 21
 minutes do not mention the Union office or the lounge-break area
 matters, a June 26, 1984 memorandum sent to the then Clinic Director,
 Dean Stordahl, from Personnel Officer Rowan states:
 
          "1.  AFGE wishes to set a Management/Union meeting with you and
       possibly Sal and/or Joyce and me as soon as possible.
 
          "2.  Their concerns have been narrowed to the following:
 
          A.  2nd. floor move:  1.  Approval, (Does Clinic have CO's
       approval to proceed). 2.  Move plan date (projected). 3.  Number
       of employees affected by move. 4.  Plan for bathrooms, lounge
       area.
 
          B.  New bldg. move:  1.  AFGE office, where located, (Amount of
       space). 2.  Relocation date plan. 3.  Bathrooms, lounges and
       cafeterias for employees, (location). 4.  Parking for employees.
       5.  Reserved parking for AFGE officials."
 
    Mannino testified that the parties again discussed the moves during
 the regular Labor-Management meeting held on July 24, 1984 at which time
 the Union raised questions concerning the second floor Union office, the
 lunch-break area, bathrooms for employees and access for the
 handicapped.  /5/ Accordingly to Mannino, during this session management
 tentatively agreed to provide the Union with space in order to move the
 Union office but there was no agreement on the precise amount of space.
 With regard to other matters, Mannino testified:
 
          "They had agreed that they would present us with the plans
       which would show where the break area would be, which would show
       where the bathrooms were going to be, hand -- or handicapped
       access.  They would have all those plans.  They didn't have them
       yet.  So we tentatively agreed that we would wait until they had
       them, but we wanted to see where everything was going to be
       situated."
 
    Thus, while Mannino's recollection of this meeting was somewhat
 vague, the thrust of his testimony was that management did not yet have
 all the data it needed on the move and would subsequently respond to the
 issues raised by the Union and review the floor plans with them.  The
 only reference to the 417 South Hill Street matter contained in the
 minutes of that meeting states:
 
          "4.  The move to the second floor has been approved.  Director
       stated that he asked Sal Carlos to divide the 300 feet given to
       the Credit Union with AFGE for office space."
 
    The next discussion with management concerning the move to the second
 floor, according to Mannino, occurred during the August regularly
 scheduled Labor-Management meeting.  /6/ Mannino testified:
 
          ". . . August is where we had reached agreement on the -- basic
       agreement on the office and we had -- they had then told us that
       there (was) going to be locked bathrooms for the employees on the
       second floor, and we had agreed to that.  We had raised questions
       as to who was going to get the keys.  They told us that there was
       going to be a patrolling security officer.  We agreed with that,
       as far as security for the people being concerned.
 
          "We had made -- They told us there would be handicapped access.
        We agreed with that.
 
          "They told us there was going to be a break area in between the
       two wings of the second floor.  Now, we had agreed to that, but it
       was hard to conceptualize it or visualize it because we didn't
       have the plans in front of us.
 
                       . . . . .
 
 
          "They also said that there was a little room that would have
       vending machines and maybe a microwave oven right off of where the
       break room was going to be.  We agreed to that.
 
          "They said there was going to be a sink there.  We said, 'Fine'
       to that.  We agreed with that.
 
          "BY MS. WAGNER:
 
          "Q.  So was there anything left open at the end of this
       meeting?
 
          "A.  Yes.
 
          "We wanted to find out the exact amount of space for the Union
       office, to see where it looked -- you know, where it was located,
       what it looked like.  We wanted to see the exact space where the
       break area was going to be, how big it was going to be.  They had
       mentioned something about partitions.  We wanted to see what it
       looked like, because up until this time we had not seen anything.
       We wanted to 'see' where all the exits were for the -- you know,
       for fire and stuff for people to get in and to get out.  We hadn't
       seen any of that at that time.  We agreed with what they had said
       that there was going to be that stuff, but we still wanted to see
       where the location was.
 
          "Q.  So what was management's response to that, when you wanted
       to 'see' where the location was?
 
          "A.  They said they didn't have the plans at that time, and
       that they would show us the plans when -- as soon as they got them
       because at this meeting we had asked to see them.  They didn't
       have any."
 
    The minutes of the August meeting contain the following comments
 listed under the caption "Move to the Second Floor":
 
          "a.  Tour every Wednesday at 3:00 p.m. until completion.
 
          "b.  Completion date set for November 15, 1984.
 
          "c.  Safety:  1.  Fire access
 
          2.  Adequate access for handicapped
 
          3.  Patrolling Police Officer
 
          4.  Locked restrooms on floor for employees
 
          5.  Rest area for employees (B.U.) /7/
 
          "d.  Telephone number will remain the same."
 
    Mannino testified that in late September or early October 1984
 management called the Union to Director Stordahl's office to discuss the
 move to the second floor.  Present were Stordahl, Rowan, Mannino and
 Jones.  Mannino testified:
 
          "At that meeting they showed us the plans.  That was the first
       time we had seen it, and they had pointed out to us there where
       the Union office was going to be.  We had some questions because
       it seemed from the drawings that they were going to -- that the
       Union office was smaller than the other office which supposedly
       had been cut in half, but then they showed us where the break area
       was going to be, and they said there was going to be some
       partitions and we agreed that that was good.  We agreed to that.
       Then they showed us where the secretaries were going to sit.  We
       had some questions there because they had the -- they showed the
       secretaries sitting out in the hallways, and upon some questioning
       back and forth they had said that they would have partitions up so
       that, you know, they would be kind of like cut off so people just
       wouldn't be walking by them all the time out in the open.
 
          "And after that we had agreed to everything they showed us and
       the meeting ended."
 
    When examined on the specific conversation pertaining to the break
 area, Mannino stated:
 
          ". . . when I looked at the break area, I had asked where the
       tables and chairs were going to be, and it was Mr. Rowan, if I'm
       not mistaken, that said they were going to be along the window and
       there was going a partition here (sic) and a partition in -- in
       the back, and there was going to be a sink placed right across
       from this little room which he said may have a microwave oven in
       it and some vending machine, but they weren't sure because some
       electrical stuff had to go in there and they may not be able to do
       it;  but he pointed that out to me on the plans.  Where the sink
       would be, the chairs and tables would be, where the partition
       would be."
 
    Mannino further testified:
 
          "We were told the break area was going to be along here
       (indicating), and that it will be a partition here and a partition
       here (indicating).  Here was where the little room was supposed to
       be, and here was where the sink was going to be (indicating).  And
       it was right close to where a lot of people worked in here. . . ."
 
    A copy of the blueprint of the second floor layout was put in
 evidence and used during examination and cross-examination of witnesses.
  The break area in dispute herein is in a hallway, which, from my
 reading, measures approximately 39 feet long by 12 feet wide and
 connects two wings of the second floor office space.  The blueprint
 reveals that one side of the 39 foot hallway contains a sink and one
 long wall which contains numerous windows.  The opposite side of the
 hallway is primarily solid wall except for one window on one end of the
 hallway and a door, opposite the sink, at the other end leading to a
 room marked "Tel" which opens on two other rooms.  The Union office is
 adjacent to the doorway to the "Tel" room.  Mannino indicated that he
 understood tables and chairs would be located along the hallway wall
 containing the windows and sink and a partition placed on either end of
 the line of tables and chairs, thereby keeping the other side of the
 hallway open as a walkway.
 
    In mid-November 1984 approximately 25 employees were relocated to the
 second floor at 417 South Hill Street and a sink was installed in the
 hallway.  According to Mannino, in late November or early December he
 had a conversation with Joyce McIntyre, Health Systems Specialist, who
 had some responsibility for planning the move.  Mannino testified that
 during this conversation McIntyre showed him a catalogue with different
 types of partitions and indicated which ones she was going to order for
 secretaries and the break area.  /8/
 
    In early January 1985 Mannino was informed by some employees they
 heard rumors that the Director had changed his mind and decided not to
 have a break area on the second floor.  Mannino questioned Personnel
 Officer Rowan on the matter and, after management refused to acknowledge
 any agreement to have a lunch-break area on the second floor, the
 Union's officers met and on January 31, 1985 sent the Director a
 memorandum stating, inter alia:
 
          "1.  Due to your unilateral abrogation of an agreed upon verbal
       commitment to Local 2297 to have a break and lunch area on the
       second floor of 417 S. Hill Street for the employees working on
       that floor, we are requesting immediate negotiations over this
       change in conditions of employment."
 
    On February 5, 1985 the Director replied to the Union as follows:
 
          "1.  Discussion of a proposed lunch and break area on the
       second floor in 417 So. Hill Street indeed took place.  No Promise
       to establish such an area ever occurred, however;  nor was any
       such matter 'negotiated' upon.  All VA OPC employees have
       designated places for lunch and breaks that have long been
       established, recognized, and are accessible.  No additional area
       was or will be designated for this purpose at this time, and
       neither has any new area been utilized for this purpose.
 
          "2.  You Memorandum indicates a 'change in conditions of
       employment.' I fail to see how conditions that have never existed
       constitute a change.  This subject is therefore not negotiable."
 
    Counsel for the General Counsel also called Lula Mae Jones, President
 of Local 2297, as a witness.  Although her recollection of events was
 less clear than that of Mannino, her testimony concerning discussions
 involving the second floor move nevertheless generally supported his
 testimony.  More specifically, Jones recalled that during the June
 Labor-Management meeting, along with expressing concerns as to what
 services would be relocated, restrooms and space for a Union office, the
 Union representatives asked if there would be a break area and
 management responded "yes." Although Jones' recollection and testimony
 regarding the regular July and August Labor-Management meetings was
 vague, she did testify that she thought they discussed the break area at
 all of their meetings.  In any event, as to the September or early
 October meeting at which she was present with Mannino, Stordahl and
 Rowan, Jones testified they were first shown plans of the second floor
 layout including the passageway where the break area would be located.
 According to Jones, whose testimony deviated from Mannino's in only
 minor respect, Stordahl went over the floor plans indicating the
 location of the various offices and facilities, and regarding the break
 area, Jones testified:
 
          "His explanation to us was that this would be the lunch break
       area.  In the lunch area would be chairs -- table(s), chairs, and
       partitions.  Okay.  With a sink and maybe a microwave oven.  He
       did not say where the sink would be placed.  He just said 'a
       sink'.  He did not say where the microwave oven would be;  but he
       said, 'There would be tables and chairs along the wall with a
       partition in front of the table(s) and chairs, leaving an opening
       for walkway from one corridor to the other one.'
 
                      . . . . .
 
 
          "That was my understanding, because there was a window over
       there, and he said, 'There would be tables and chairs at the
       window.' Okay.  And there is a window over there, and it was my
       understanding that it would not be as many table(s) and chairs on
       this side of the wall as there was on this side, because the
       window area here was longer." /9/
 
    According to Jones, after Stordahl concluded his explanation of the
 break area, the Union representatives indicated they "accepted it."
 
    Jones also testified that sometime in late October 1984 she was
 present when a group of eight or ten employees was given a tour of the
 second floor facility by Sal Carlos, Facility Manager of the Outpatient
 Clinic and Brian Murphy, Subway Terminal Building Manager, a
 representative of the owner of that property.  According to Jones,
 Carlos and Murphy were at the head of the group and Jones was at the
 rear.  As the group approached the hallway area in the vicinity of the
 door to the "Tel" room, an employee towards the front of the group asked
 a question concerning the location of a microwave oven.  Jones recalled
 that either Carlos or Murphy responded that they were not sure, and
 continued:  "but there will be tables and chairs over here and over
 here."
 
    Suzette Mitchell, an employee called as a witness by counsel for the
 General Counsel, also testified that she was present with approximately
 five other employees at a tour of the second floor.  She testified that
 her tour, sometime in early November 1984, was conducted only by Carlos.
  According to Mitchell, while the group was still some distance from the
 hallway, although in view of it, an employee asked whre the lunch area
 was going to be and Carlos responded:  ". . . down that way," indicating
 towards the hallway and stating that tables and chairs would be placed
 there.
 
    Personnel Officer Rowan, called as a witness by counsel for
 Respondent, testified that a meeting with Union representatives in June
 1984 gave rise to his memorandum to the Clinic Director dated June 26,
 1984, supra.  Thereafter, according to Rowan, he and Stordahl met with
 the Union sometime in early July 1984 at which time preliminary plans of
 both the new building and the second floor at 417 South Hill Street were
 reviewed.  According to Rowan's account of this meeting, Stordahl
 explained the layouts of both facilities and answered questions.  The
 new building consisted of six floors and accordingly, more time was
 spent reviewing the plans for the new building.  In this regard, Rowan
 testified, inter alia;
 
          "Ms. Jones was concerned about the location of her Union office
       in the new building and asked the Director if it could be located
       in a different area other than the sixth floor of the brand new
       building.  She wanted it located on the second floor, which was
       adjacent to employee lockers, lounges, and a cafeteria;  and a
       considerable amount of conversation took place about this
       particular subject.
 
          "As I recall, Ms. Jones was quite concerned that if her Union
       office was not in a place where it would be easily accessible to
       employees then the Union wouldn't be available, et cetera. . .
 
                       . . . . .
 
 
          "Ms. Jones was concerned about parking.  She wanted to know if
       there would be free parking available for employees and reserved
       parking or a space for her Union -- herself and Union officials. .
       .
 
                       . . . . .
 
 
          ". . . the conversation then began to center around her
       accessibility to her bargaining unit members and the second floor
       of the new building, which was described by the Clinic Director as
       having an outside patio, which was -- would be conductive to
       employees enjoying their lunch breaks and -- and the like . . .
       (and) whether or not it would be appropriate to have the Union
       office on the second floor or on the sixth floor, which is what
       the plans showed at the time."
 
    The new facility contained a lunch room on its second floor and Rowan
 also recalled Stordahl pointing out the future location of tables and
 chairs in that room.
 
    The second floor plans for the 417 South Hill Street building were
 also discussed, specifically with regard to the matters of Union concern
 listed on Rowan's June 26 mrmorandum, supra.  Rowan testified that the
 parties talked about two places where a lounge area might be
 appropriate:  the room marked "Tel" on the blueprint;  and the corridor
 between the two work areas which appeared at the time "might be feasible
 for a lounge area." However, according to Rowan, the parties reached no
 agreement as to the location of a lounge area at 417 South Hill Street.
 
    With regard to the August regular Labor-Management meeting, Rowan
 testified that Chief Engineer Sal Carlos was present at that meeting to
 explain the hazards of bargaining unit employees going into the second
 floor area unescorted before its completion and informing the Union of
 how management was arranging guided tours for employees.  Although Rowan
 acknowledged that the matter of a break area came up at more than one
 meeting and indicated no discussion of the break area took place after
 the August meeting, Rowan gave no testimony regarding any discussion of
 a rest area during the August session nor did he attempt to explain the
 notation on the minutes of the August 1984 Labor-Management meeting:
 "5.  Rest area for employees (B.U.)."
 
    Rowan stated that he never received any request to bargain on the
 second floor move nor did he know the Union wished to negotiate on the
 matters they expressed interest in relating to the move.  Rowan also
 testified that at other times when the Union desired to bargain on a
 matter it would send a memorandum specifically indicating the problem
 and the area of the contract involved.  However, Rowan further stated
 that the regularly scheduled Labor-Management meetings covered ". . .
 items that AFGE felt they wanted information on that might have an
 affect on their bargaining unit members.  And, of course, items they
 felt they could negotiate with management on."
 
    Clinic Director Stordahl also testified that he met with Rowan, Jones
 and Mannino in early July 1984 as a result of Rowan's June 26 memorandum
 to him which indicated the Union had concerns regarding the move to the
 second floor and the new building, supra.  Stordahl indicated the
 meeting was for the purpose of bringing the Union up to date on the
 planning for the new six-story building and to discuss ". . . what some
 of our preliminary thinking was if and when (they) got the second floor
 approved . . ." which was at that time in the "initial planning phase."
 According to Stordahl, at the meeting Respondent had blueprints of the
 new building and "some line drawings of the second floor potential
 expansion" which had not been developed by an architect.  Regarding a
 lunch room at 417 South Hill Street, Stordahl testified, inter alia:
 
          "Well, we were talking about what we could bring over there to
       try to fill the space.  I was really, in the initial stages of it,
       trying to get enough things into there . . . to fill it up to
       justify renting it, quite frankly;  and in the process of -- of
       considering the number of alternatives, a -- the space that's
       shown here as 'Mechanical Room', we told them that we'd like to
       put a lunch room in that.  The -- There's about three steps up, or
       two steps up, into that space.  I guess, actually on this diagram,
       its' called 'Telephone Room'.
 
          "There's about two steps up into this space that we felt you
       could close the door to and make it out to be some type of a break
       room.
 
          "The building owner subsequently advised us that that was not
       possible because he had -- he needed access to the mechanical
       space and the telephone equipment space."
 
    Stordahl did not recall any discussion concerning placing the lunch
 room in the hallway or mention of vending machines but did recall he
 pointed out a plumbing outlet in the hallway indicating that the
 property owner offered to install a sink so employees "could wash their
 coffee cups, or water their plants, or whatever."
 
    Stordahl also testified that the Union asked for office space on the
 second floor and, although no agreement was reached during the early
 July meeting on this or any other matter, a room originally designated
 "Credit Union" on the plans was changed to "Union Office" and, at the
 request of the Union, that space was subsequently enlarged.
 
    With regard to the new building, Stordahl testified that during the
 early July meeting management reviewed all the blueprints with the Union
 including pointing out the area on the second floor marked "Canteen" and
 pointing out where tables and chairs would be.
 
    Stordahl further testified that sometime between the early July
 meeting and the regular Labor-Management meeting held on July 24
 management concluded that it would give the Union office space on the
 second floor of the 417 South Hill Street building and at the July 24
 meeting agreed that if the lease for the space was entered into, the
 Union could have the office space and subsequent thereto, the space
 allotted to the Union was enlarged.  Stordahl recalled no further
 meetings with the Union on the second floor move in which he
 participated.
 
    In addition, Stordahl expressed his opinion that a lunch-break area
 in the hallway would retard traffic and be "disruptive" in appearance in
 that moving visitors through an area where food is being eaten or
 prepared would not properly reflect a business environment.  Stordahl
 indicated that if tables and chairs were permitted the next step would
 be people asking for a microwave and heating up leftovers.
 
    Facility Manager Carlos acknowledged that he was present at the
 August 1984 regular Labor-Management meeting, supra, but recalled no
 discussion concerning a lunch or break area on the second floor of 417
 South Hill Street.  However, Carlos testified he was not present during
 that entire session.  Carlos further testified that on three occasions
 he participated in taking employees on tours of the second floor
 facility, all of which were in the company of Subway Terminal Building
 Manager Murphy.  Carlos denied saying the corridor would be used for a
 break area but did recall that a response to a question by an employee
 as to the function of the "Tel" room, he replied they had considered
 putting tables and chairs in the room for use as a break area but they
 concluded the room would be too noisy for that purpose due to the
 proximity of air conditioning apparatus.  /10/ No testimony was elicited
 from Carlos as to the source of this information except that the matter
 had been considered but due to the noise factor, it was "immediately"
 quashed.  Carlos testified that either he or Murphy mentioned that a
 sink would be placed in the hallway area and he may have explained that
 the sink could be used for washing utensils after coffee breaks.
 
    Building Manager Murphy testified that other than asking Respondent
 whether they needed a lunch room on the second floor early on and being
 told they did not, he had no discussion with anyone concerning such a
 facility.  Murphy also testified he did not hear Carlos say anything
 about a lunch-break room during the two employee tours (around 10
 employees each time) of the second floor which he participated in.  /11/
 
    Evidence was also received regarding the physical arrangements at the
 417-425 South Hill Street facility.  Thus, the two addresses are in
 reality two entrances to the same building, about 50 feet apart and the
 425 South Hill section has a lunch room for employees.  While it would
 take only a few minutes to go from the second floor of the 417 section
 to the 425 lunch room, the two sections are not connected internally
 thereby requiring one to exit one section in order to enter the other.
 
               Ultimate Findings, Discussion and Conclusions
 
    Counsel for the General Counsel contends that Respondent failed to
 negotiate in good faith with the Union when, after agreeing to establish
 a break area on the second floor of 417 South Hill Street by placing
 tables and chairs along one wall of a corridor and enclosing this
 section with partitions so the area was separated from the passageway,
 Respondent failed and refused to effectuate this agreement.
 
    Respondent denies that any agreement was reached on the matter,
 contending that the Union never made a request to bargain on the
 subject.  Respondent also argues that management has no obligation to
 bargain on the matter since the absence of a lunch-break area on the
 second floor had no "substantial adverse impact" on unit employees.
 
    Essential to a determination herein is a resolution of credibility.
 Thus, Chief Steward Mannino and Local President Jones testified to facts
 which, if credited, would establish that an agreement was reached by the
 parties to have a lunch-break area in the second floor hallway.  On the
 other hand, Personnel Officer Rowan and Clinic Director Stordahl denied
 any agreement and gave testimony which, at most, would indicate that the
 matter was discussed but left unresolved.  Based upon the witnesses'
 demeanor and my evaluation of the evidence, in the total context of the
 situation, I find and conclude the parties agreed to a lunch-break room
 on the second floor as alleged.  In this regard I was particularly
 impressed with the demeanor of Mannino, whose testimony was
 substantially corroborated by Jones.  Thus, I find that beginning in
 June 1984 the Union made known to Respondent its desire to have a
 lunch-break area for employees.  The matter was thereafter discussed at
 the July and August regular monthly Labor-Management meetings and at no
 time did Respondent indicate its opposition to the concept.  /12/ I
 further find that the parties met in September or early October, as set
 forth more fully above in Mannino's testimony, at which time Respondent
 clearly conveyed its plan or intention to locate a lunch-break area in
 the hallway with tables, chairs and partitions, and the Union's
 expressed its agreement with this decision.  I conclude that absent any
 evidence of a subsequent timely discussion or agreement to the contrary,
 this constituted a binding agreement on the matter.  /13/ With regard to
 partitions, I find that while Respondent agreed to furnish partitions to
 set off the lunch-break area from a passageway between the two wings, it
 would appear from the somewhat divergent accounts of Mannino and Jones
 that no final decision was made as to specifically how the partitions
 would be displayed.  In any event, the final details concerning the
 arrangement of the lunch-break area must comport with existing laws and
 regulations, including the California Building Code.  Respondent may
 well have had second thoughts on the feasibility of the location of the
 lunch-break area, but negotiations and not abrogation was the course of
 action necessary for Respondent to follow if it wished to fulfill its
 obligation under the Statute.  /14/
 
    In view of my findings and conclusions, supra, I reject Respondent's
 argument that management had no obligation to bargain since the absence
 of a lunch-break area on the second floor had no "substantial adverse
 impact" on employees.  Thus, I have found Respondent did bargain on the
 matter and in fact agreed to the lunch-break area.  In such
 circumstances arguments going to the initial bargaining obligation need
 not be addressed.
 
    Accordingly, in view of the entire foregoing I conclude Respondent,
 by the conduct described herein, failed and refused to negotiate in good
 faith with the Union and thereby violated section 7116(a)(1) and (5) of
 the Statute and I recommend the Authority issue the following:
 
                                   ORDER
 
    Pursuant to section 2423.29 of the Federal Labor Relations
 Authority's Rules and Regulations and section 7118 of the Statute, it is
 hereby ordered that the Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic, Los
 Angeles, California shall:
 
    1.  Cease and desist from:
 
          (a) Failing and refusing to implement the agreement reached
       with the American Federation of Government Employees, Local 2297,
       AFL-CIO, the employees' exclusive representative, concerning the
       establishment of a lunch-break area on the second floor of 417
       South Hill Street, Los Angeles, California consonant with laws and
       regulations governing such matters.
 
          (b) In any like to related manner interfering with, restraining
       or coercing employees in the exercise of their rights assured by
       the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute.
 
    2.  Take the following affirmative action in order to effectuate the
 purposes and policies of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations
 Statute:
 
          (a) Implement the agreement reached with the American
       Federation of Government Employees, Local 2297, AFL-CIO, the
       employees' exclusive representative, concerning the establishment
       of a lunch-break area on the second floor of 417 South Hill
       Street, Los Angeles, California consonant with laws and
       regulations governing such matters.
 
          (b) Post at its Los Angeles California Outpatient Clinic 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 the Clinic Director and shall be posted and
       maintained by him 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 other material.
 
          (c) Pursuant to section 2423.30 of the Authority's Rules and
       Regulations, notify the Regional Director, Region VIII, Federal
       Labor Relations Authority, 350 South Figueroa Street, 10th Floor,
       Los Angeles, California 90071, in writing, within 30 days from the
       date of this Order, as to what steps have been taken to comply
       herewith.
 
                                       /s/ SALVATORE J. ARRIGO
                                       Administrative Law Judge
 
    Dated:  November 15, 1985
    Washington, D.C.
 
 
 
 
                ---------------  FOOTNOTES$ ---------------
 
 
 
    (1) The Respondent excepted to certain credibility findings made by
 the Judge.  The demeanor of witnesses is a factor of consequence in
 resolving issues of credibility, and the Judge has had the advantage of
 observing the witnesses while they testified.  The Authority will not
 overrule a Judge's resolution with respect to credibility unless a clear
 preponderance of all the relevant evidence demonstrates such resolution
 was incorrect.  The Authority has examined the record carefully, and
 finds no basis for reversing the Judge's credibility findings.
 
    (2) Having found that the Respondent had in fact bargained and agreed
 to the lunch-break area, in agreement with the Judge the Authority finds
 it unnecessary to address the Respondent's arguments going to the
 initial bargaining obligation.
 
    (3) Around this same time plans were being developed by Respondent to
 erect another facility at Temple and Alameda Streets in Los Angeles.
 
    (4) The parties held Labor-Management meetings on a regular monthly
 basis.  Management prepared minutes of such meetings and provided the
 Union with a copy of the minutes.
 
    (5) Present at this meeting was Mannino, Local President Jones,
 Clinic Director Stordahl, Personnel Officer Rowan and a Personnel
 Management Specialist.
 
    (6) Neither testimony nor the minutes of this session indicate the
 precise date of the meeting.
 
    (7) B.U. stands for Bargaining Unit.
 
    (8) McIntyre denied any such conversation ever occurred.
 
    (9) Jones' testimony of the placement of the partitions differs from
 Mannino's in that Jones understood the partition's would be lined
 horizontally to the long walls of the hallway thus keeping the tables
 and chairs from view of passersby using the walkway.
 
    (10) It is not clear from Carlos' testimony whether this explanation
 was given on one or more tours.
 
    (11) Murphy also testified that the California Uniform Building Code
 closely regulates the construction of dining facilities and the use and
 obstruction of hallways.
 
    (12) Indeed, Respondent's own minutes of the regular August
 Labor-Management meeting, supra, indicates that at least as of that time
 the Union was still concerned with a rest area for bargaining unit
 employees.  The minutes thus support Mannino's testimony on this and
 Respondent's failure to adequately explain the notation on the minutes,
 in view of the general thrust of the testimony of Rowan and Stordahl,
 raises substantial questions as to their credibility, especially that of
 Rowan who was present at the August meeting.
 
    (13) Contrary to Respondent's contention I find and conclude that the
 meetings on the second floor relocation constituted bargaining on the
 matter.  Indeed it is quite obvious from the testimony of Respondent's
 own witnesses that the parties, beyond question, discussed and reached
 agreement on the issue of second floor office space for the Union, an
 integral part of the overall discussion.  The Statute does not require
 that negotiations must follow any prescribed procedure and the fact that
 bargaining between the parties might have been more formal at other
 times is immaterial.
 
    (14) pin reaching these findings and conclusions I have not relied
 upon the testimony of Jones and Mitchell with regard to the statements
 they indicated were made on the tours by Facility Manager Carlos or
 Building Manager Murphy.  It is quite possible that, as Carlos
 testified, statements were made relating to previously considering using
 the "Tel" room for a break area and the comments were misinterpreted in
 view of the physical locations of Jones and Mitchell when the comments
 were made and the circumstances of the situation.  I also make no
 credibility finding with regard to the purported discussion between
 Mannino and Health Systems Specialist McIntyre regarding partitions,
 supra.
 
 
 
 
                                 APPENDIX
 
  NOTICE TO ALL EMPLOYEES PURSUANT TO A DECISION AND ORDER OF
 THE FEDERAL
 LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY AND IN ORDER TO EFFECTUATE THE
 POLICIES OF
 CHAPTER 71 OF TITLE 5 OF THE UNITED STATES CODE FEDERAL SERVICE
 LABOR-MANAGEMENT RELATIONS STATUTE
 
                   WE HEREBY NOTIFY OUR EMPLOYEES THAT:
 
    WE WILL NOT fail or refuse to implement the agreement reached with
 the American Federation of Government Employees, Local 2297, AFL-CIO,
 the employees' exclusive representative, concerning the establishment of
 a lunch-break area on the second floor of 417 South Hill Street, Los
 Angeles, California consonant with laws and regulations governing such
 matters.
 
    WE WILL NOT in any like or related manner, interfere with, restrain,
 or coerce employees in the exercise of their rights assured by the
 Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute.
 
    WE WILL implement the agreement reached with the American Federation
 of Government Employees, Local 2297, AFL-CIO, the employees' exclusive
 representative, concerning the establishment of a lunch-break area on
 the second floor of 417 South Hill Street, Los Angeles, California
 consonant with laws and regulations governing such matters.
 
    (Agency or Activity)
 
    Dated:  . . .
 
    By:  (Signature)
 
    This Notice must remain posted for 60 consecutive days from the date
 of posting and must not be altered, defaced or covered by any other
 material.
 
    If employees have any questions concerning this Notice or compliance
 with any of its provisions, they may communi