22:0843(91)CA - Air Force, 63rd Civil Engineers Squadron, Norton AFB, CA And AFGE Interdepartmental Local 3854 -- 1986 FLRAdec CA



[ v22 p843 ]
22:0843(91)CA
The decision of the Authority follows:


 22 FLRA No. 91
 
 DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE
 63rd CIVIL ENGINEERS SQUADRON
 NORTON AIR FORCE BASE, CALIFORNIA
 Respondent
 
 and
 
 AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT 
 EMPLOYEES, INTERDEPARTMENTAL 
 LOCAL 3854, AFL-CIO
 Charging Party
 
                                            Case No. 8-CA-40473
 
                            DECISION AND ORDER
 
                         I.  Statement of the Case
 
    This unfair labor practice complaint is before the Authority based on
 exceptions filed both by the General Counsel to certain aspects of the
 attached Decision of the Administrative Law Judge and by the Respondent
 to other aspects of the attached Decision.  The complaint contained four
 separate allegations arising out of a meeting held on May 2, 1984,
 between two agents of the Respondent and the Charging Party's (the
 Union's) local representative.  The complaint alleged that the meeting
 was a formal discussion within the meaning of section 7114(a)(2)(A) of
 the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (the Statute) and
 that the Respondent's failure to provide the Union with an opportunity
 to be represented constituted a failure to comply with that section in
 violation of section 7116(a)(1) and (8) of the Statute.  The complaint
 also alleged that a statement made to the Union's local representative
 at the meeting constituted interference with his protected rights in
 violation of section 7116(a)(1) of the Statute and that the decision to
 reassign the local representative was based on his having engaged in
 protected activity in violation of section 7116(a)(1) and (2) of the
 Statute.  Finally, the complaint alleged that the reassignment of the
 local representative constituted a unilateral change in conditions of
 employment in which the exclusive representative was not notified and
 afforded an opportunity to bargain concerning its impact and
 implementation in violation of section 7116(a)(1) and (5) of the
 Statute.
 
                              II.  Background
 
    As more fully set forth by the Judge, Howard Wright is the unit
 vice-president of the Charging Party and its only representative at the
 Respondent's facility.  On November 6, 1983, Wright complained to an
 agent of the Respondent regarding what he viewed to be inequitable
 assignment of details.  His complaint eventually resulted in a formal
 grievance filed on his behalf by the President of the Charging Party,
 who is located at March Air Force Base.  His grievance was denied at the
 second step by Fire Chief Smith in a letter dated April 9, 1984.  Wright
 then requested an extension of time in which to file his grievance at
 the third step in a letter incorrectly directed to the Wing Commander.
 As a result of the misdirection, Fire Chief Smith was then contacted by
 the Base Commander who told him that the Wing Commander was upset
 because of the misdirection of Wright's extension request.  The Chief of
 Labor and Employee Relations also called Smith and said he had been
 called by the Base Commander about the misdirected request.  He related
 that they had a problem with Wright not following the contract
 requirements.  On May 2, 1984, Wright was told to report to Deputy Fire
 Chief Turner's office.  There is nothing in the record to indicate that
 he was told why he should report.  When he arrived, Fire Chief Smith was
 also there.  A statement, alleged to be coercive, was made to Wright by
 Smith, as set forth in the Judge's Decision, which the Judge found to be
 in reference to the misdirected request for a grievance extension.
 Wright was then asked how his grievance could be resolved.  A discussion
 of the grievance and its resolution ensued.  Wright was ultimately
 reassigned to Fire Station 2 based on, among other things, his need to
 get certain training, which was only offered there.  The reassignment
 was made permanent at a later date.
 
                          III.  Judge's Decision
 
    The Judge concluded, with respect to the first allegation of the
 complaint, that the May 2, 1984 meeting constituted a formal discussion
 within the meaning of section 7114(a)(2)(A) of the Statute at which the
 Respondent failed to provide the exclusive representative an opportunity
 to be represented thereby failing to comply with that section in
 violation of section 7116(a)(1) and (8) of the Statute.  In response to
 the Respondent's contention that the meeting was not formal, the Judge
 noted that it involved the discussion and/or resolution of a grievance,
 the employee was called to the office by management, the meeting was
 conducted by two supervisors of the Respondent, one of whom was not
 merely a first level supervisor, and the meeting was not impromptu or
 casual.  In answer to the question of whether the Union was, in fact,
 represented by Wright, given his status as an officer of the Union, the
 Judge noted that Wright was the grievant in this case and should not "be
 compelled to wear two hats at the same time so as to permit management
 to avoid its obligation under section 7114(a)(2)(A) of the Statute."
 Therefore, he concluded that the Union did not receive notification of
 the meeting in which Wright's grievance was discussed.
 
    With respect to the allegation that the statement made to Wright at
 the May 2, 1984 meeting was coercive in nature, the Judge found that he
 was not persuaded that the statement constituted interference with
 Wright's protected activity.  The Judge noted that the statement was
 specifically related to the misdirected extension request that caused
 problems within the management chain, and not to Wright's processing of
 the grievance itself.  The Judge did not view the remarks, in these
 circumstances, as reasonably tending to coerce or intimidate Wright.
 Therefore, he concluded that the statement was not violative of section
 7116(a)(1) of the Statute.
 
    The Judge also was not persuaded that a prima facie case of
 discrimination had been proven regarding the third allegation of the
 complaint.  Thus, the Judge found that there was no basis in the record
 testimony to establish that Wright's reassignment was in any way
 intended to thwart the processing of the grievance by Wright.  Rather,
 the Judge noted, a sufficient basis did exist for management's action,
 particularly Wright's need for certain training, which in his view
 dispelled any suspicion caused by the timing of the reassignment.
 Therefore, he concluded that the reassignment of Wright was not
 discriminatory and thus was not violative of section 7116(a)(1) and (2)
 of the Statute.
 
    With respect to the final allegation of the complaint, that Wright's
 reassignment and ultimate transfer to Fire Station 2 constituted a
 unilateral change in conditions of employment in violation of section
 7116(a)(1) and (5) of the Statute, the Judge first discussed the
 Respondent's contention that this allegation was untimely filed under
 section 7118(a)(4)(A) of the Statute.  He concluded that the amended
 charge, which was filed more than six months after the alleged
 unilateral change, was not untimely in that it did not raise a new cause
 of action.  Turning to the merits of the unfair labor practice
 allegation, the Judge concluded that the reassignment did not give rise
 to a duty to bargain.  Therefore, the Judge dismissed this aspect of the
 complaint.
 
                       IV.  Positions of the Pa0ties
 
    The Respondent excepted only to the Judge's conclusion regarding the
 first allegation of the complaint, contending that the meeting was not a
 formal discussion.  Thus, the Respondent argued that the meeting was not
 formal in nature and that even if the meeting was a formal discussion,
 the Union was provided with an opportunity to be represented because its
 vice-president was notified and attended the meeting.  The General
 Counsel, in opposing the Respondent's exceptions, notes that Wright had
 no idea what the meeting would be about at the time he was summoned.
 Moreover, the General Counsel argues in support of the Judge's
 conclusion that a union official would not necessarily have the
 interests of all unit employees in mind when the meeting involved his
 own personal grievance.
 
    The General Counsel excepted to the Judge's dismissal of the unfair
 labor practice allegations concerning the statement made to Wright at
 the May 2, 1984 meeting and Wright's alleged discriminatory
 reassignment.  The General Counsel contends that the Judge should have
 concluded that the statement made to Wright would reasonably have caused
 him to draw a coercive inference.  The General Counsel also contends
 that a prima facie case of discrimination had been proven with respect
 to the reassignment.  Thus, in the view of the General Counsel, given
 the timing of the reassignment, and the inference that should have been
 drawn regarding Smith's statement to Wright, a discriminatory basis for
 the reassignment had been established.
 
    In its opposition to the General Counsel's exceptions, the Respondent
 noted that Wright was not an average employee.  He was the Union
 vice-president, and he should have reasonably perceived that the
 statement made to him by Smith related to his misdirection of the
 extension request and not to his having engaged in protected activity.
 The Respondent also contends with respect to the reassignment, that its
 purpose was to provide Wright with needed training and to put him where
 he would be subject to less details in response to his grievance.
 
    Neither party filed exceptions with respect to the Judge's dismissal
 of the final allegation of the unfair labor practice complaint.
 
                               V.  Analysis
 
    The Authority adopts the Judge's findings, conclusions and supporting
 rationale with respect to all four of the allegations set forth in the
 unfair labor practice complaint.  Thus, the Authority concludes, in
 agreement with the Judge, that the May 2, 1984 meeting was a formal
 discussion within the meaning of section 7114(a)(2)(A) of the Statute
 inasmuch as it involved the discussion of an actual grievance with the
 employee grievant and was initiated and conducted by agents of the
 Respondent.  With respect to the Respondent's contentions that the
 notification and attendance of Wright, a Union officer, at the meeting
 satisfied the requirements of the Statute that the Union, who filed the
 grievance on Wright's behalf, was informed of the purpose of the meeting
 prior to Wright's arrival at the meeting.  Once he arrived and
 management began discussion resolution of the grievance, Wright was
 placed in the position of representing himself in his own grievance.
 Therefore, we conclude, in agreement with the Judge, and in the unique
 circumstances of this case, that the rationale contained in Veterans
 Administration, Veterans Administration Medical Center, Muskogee,
 Oklahoma, 19 FLRA No. 122 (1985) is distinguishable and, therefore, the
 Union was neither notified nor provided with an opportunity to be
 represented at this formal discussion concerning Wright's grievance by
 the Respondent.  Accordingly, the Respondent failed to comply with
 section 7114(a)(2)(A) of the Statute in violation of section 7116(a)(1)
 and (8).
 
    The Authority also adopts the Judge's conclusions, and supporting
 rationale, that the Respondent did not violate section 7116(a)(1) of the
 Statute based on the statement made to Wright at the May 2, 1984
 meeting;  nor did it violate section 7116(a)(1) and (2) based on its
 reassignment of Wright.  Thus, the Judge applied appropriate case law to
 his conclusions and the General Counsel's exceptions constitute mere
 disagreement with his factual analysis.  We find no basis for reversing
 these conclusions.
 
    Finally, with regard to the final allegation of the unfair labor
 practice complaint, no exceptions were filed to the Judge's conclusion
 that the impact of the Respondent's reassignment of Wright did not
 create a bargaining obligation.  We agree with the Judge and conclude
 that the Respondent's failure to give notice to the Union of the
 reassignment and afford it an opportunity to request bargaining
 concerning its impact was not violative of section 7116(a)(1) and (5) of
 the Statute.
 
                              VI.  Conclusion
 
    Pursuant to section 2423.29 of the Authority's Rules and Regulations
 and section 7118 of the Statute, the Authority has reviewed the rulings
 of the Judge made at the hearing, finds that no prejudicial error was
 committed, and thus affirms these rulings.  The Authority has considered
 the Judge's Decision, the exceptions to that Decision and the entire
 record, and adopts the Judge's findings, conclusions, and recommended
 Order.  We therefore conclude that the Respondent violated section
 7116(a)(1) and (8) of the Statute when it failed to afford the Union an
 opportunity to be represented at a formal discussion conducted on May 2,
 1984, thereby failing to comply with section 7114(a)(2)(A) of the
 Statute.  We also conclude that the General Counsel did not establish
 that the Respondent violated section 7116(a)(1), (2) and (5) of the
 Statute with respect to other conduct related to the May 2, 1984
 meeting.  Accordingly, these aspects of the complaint shall be
 dismissed.
 
                                   ORDER
 
    Pursuant to section 7118 of the Statute and section 2423.29 of the
 Rules and Regulations, it is hereby ordered that the Department of the
 Air Force, 63rd Civil Engineers Squadron, Norton Air Force Base,
 California, shall:
 
    1.  Cease and desist from:
 
    (a) Failing to provide its employees' exclusive representative,
 American Federation of Government Employees, Interdepartmental Local
 3854, AFL-CIO, an opportunity to be represented at formal discussions
 with bargaining unit employees concerning grievances, personnel policies
 and practices or other general conditions of employment.
 
    (b) In any like or related manner interfering with, restraining or
 coercing its employees in the exercise of their rights assured by the
 Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute.
 
    2.  Take the following affirmative action:
 
    (a) Post at its facilities, 63rd Civil Engineers Squadron, Norton Air
 Force Base, California, 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 appropriate official 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
 ensure that such Notices are not altered, defaced, or covered by any
 other material.
 
    (b) Pursuant to section 2423.30 of the Authority's Rules and
 Regulations, notify the Regional Director, Region VIII, Federal Labor
 Relations Authority, in writing, within 30 days from the date of this
 Order, as to what steps have been taken to comply therewith.
 
    IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the remaining allegations of the complaint
 in Case No. 8-CA-40473 be, and they hereby are, dismissed.
 
    Issued, Washington, D.C., July 30, 1986.
 
                                       /s/ JERRY L. CALHOUN
                                       Jerry L. Calhoun, Chairman
                                       /s/ HENRY B. FRAZIER III
                                       Henry B. Frazier III, Member
                                       FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY
 
 
 
 
 
 NTOICE 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 to provide our employees' exclusive representative,
 American Federation of Government Employees, Interdepartmental Local
 3854, AFL-CIO, an opportunity to be represented at formal discussions
 with bargaining unit employees concerning grievances, personnel policies
 and practices or other general conditions of employment.
 
    WE WILL NOT in any like or related manner interfere with, restrain,
 or coerce our employees in the exercise of their rights assured by the
 Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute.
                                       (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, Federal Labor Relations Authority, whose address
 is:  350 South Figueroa Street, 10th Floor, Los Angeles, California
 90071, and whose telephone number is:  (213) 894-3805.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 -------------------- ALJ$ DECISION FOLLOWS --------------------
 
    Case No.: 8-CA-40473
 
    DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE
    63rd CIVIL ENGINEERS SQUADRON
    NORTON AIR FORCE BASE, CALIFORNIA
    Respondent
 
                                    and
 
    AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, 
    INTERDEPARTMENTAL LOCAL 3854, AFL-CIO
    Charging Party
 
    Lt. Col. Wade B. Morrison
    For the Respondent
 
    Jonathan S. Levine, Esquire
    For the General Counsel
 
    Del Mar Callaway
    For the Charging Party
 
    Before:  WILLIAM NAIMARK
    Administrative Law Judge
 
                                 DECISION
 
                           Statement of the Case
 
    A hearing in the above-entitled case was held before the undersigned
 on April 18, 1985 at Los Angeles, California.  The Complaint and Notice
 of Hearing was issued on January 11, 1985 by the Regional Director for
 the Federal Labor Relations Authority, Los Angeles, California.
 
    This case arose under the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations
 Statute, 5 U.S.C. 7101, et seq. (herein called the Statute).  It is
 based on a first amended charge filed on December 31, 1984 by American
 Federation of Government Employees, Interdepartmental Local 3854,
 AFL-CIO (herein called the Union) against Department of the Air Force,
 63rd Civil Engineers Squadron, Norton Air Force Base, California (herein
 called Respondent).
 
    The Complaint alleged, in substance, that (a) on or about May 2, 1984
 Respondent, via a management official, conducted a meeting with a unit
 employee concerning the latter's grievance, without affording the Union,
 the exclusive representative of Respondent's employees, an opportunity
 to be present;  /1/ (b) on or about September 13, 1984 Respondent, via a
 management official, unilaterally changed working conditions of a unit
 employee by reassigning said employee to Fire Station 2 without first
 notifying the Union and affording it an opportunity to negotiate re the
 implementation of the change and its impact on unit employees;  (c) on
 or about September 13, 1984 Respondent permanently reassigned Howard
 Wright to Station 2 because he engaged in protected union activity on
 behalf of the Union;  (d) on or about May 2, 1984 Respondent, via a
 management official, made statements to a unit employee to the effect
 that he would be disciplined or subject to reprisal because he engaged
 in protected union activity -- all in violation of Section 7116(a)(1),
 (2), (5) and (8) of the Statute.
 
    Respondent's Answer dated January 23, 1985 denied the aforesaid
 allegations as well as the commission of any unfair labor practices.
 
    All parties were represented at the hearing.  Each was afforded full
 opportunity to be heard, to adduce evidence and to examine as well as
 cross-examine witnesses.  Thereafter, briefs were filed which have been
 duly considered.  /2/
 
    Upon the entire record herein, from my observation of the witnesses
 and their demeanor, and from all of the testimony and evidence adduced
 at the hearing, I make the following findings and conclusions:
 
                             Findings of Fact
 
    1.  At all times material herein the Union has been, and is now, the
 exclusive representative of all civilian employees of the Fire
 Protection Branch, 63rd Civil Engineers Squadron of Respondent with
 specified exclusions from said unit.
 
    2.  Both the Union and Respondent are parties to a written collective
 bargaining agreement entered into in January 18, 1982.  /3/ The said
 agreement provides, inter alia, as follows:
 
          Article 19
 
          Section 6
 
          The Employer and Union agree that any discussion or meeting
       between stewards and supervisors shall generally be with
       supervisors up to and including the second-level supervisor.
       Discussions or meetings with the supervisors above the
       second-level (or management officials) will normally be restriced
       to officers of the Union.  Officers may be accompanied by the
       appropriate steward at such meeting if determined necessary.
 
          Section 8
 
          The employer will notify the steward seven (7) days prior to
       reassignment to another organization.
 
    3.  Since 1974 Howard Wright has been employed by Respondent as a
 firefighter.  He was made steward of the Union in 1981, and on February
 15, 1983 Wright was designated as unit vice-president for the Union.
 
    4.  Until 1984, and for about six years, Wright worked at Fire
 Station #1 where he was assigned to the primary rescue crew which was
 responsible for protecting life and property.  As a firefighter in that
 unit Wright was required to know all rescue procedures, and he underwent
 continuous training in structural and aircraft emergencies.  In order to
 obtain a layout of buildings he was required to pre-fire plan buildings,
 to learn where chemicals were stored and what hazards existed therein.
 Wright also received medical training at that station.  He was required
 to maintain equipment, clean the station and cut the grass.
 
    5.  In his capacity as union representative, Wright filed grievances
 for employees as well as unfair labor practice charges.  He became
 involved in membership drives and negotiations on implementing the Air
 Force Regulations.  Wright was the only representative at Norton Air
 Force Base for the local union.  /4/
 
    6.  On November 6, 1983 Wright spoke to Chief Arnold, a management
 official, and complained that details of employees were not being
 distributed or assigned in an equal manner.
 
    7.  A series of communications between the Union and Respondent
 ensued as to whether Wright's complaint was in fact a grievance and
 properly brought to management's attention.  The Union felt that Wright
 had "grieved" about the inequity of detail assignment, and that
 Respondent was avoiding its obligation to negotiate the matter.
 Respondent did not deem the oral complaint or subsequent correspondence
 to constitute a grievance as required under the collective bargaining
 agreement.  /5/
 
    8.  In a letter dated January 27, 1984 the Union filed a grievance
 with Respondent concerning the allegation that details were being
 assigned in an inequitable manner.
 
    9.  A reply letter dated February 27, 1984 /6/ was written by
 Commander George W. Hillyer III to Union President Callaway.  It was
 stated therein that management attempted to assign details in an
 equitable manner;  that Respondent could not take Wright off all details
 and extra duties as he requested;  that it could not expunge the records
 of any action taken against him by chiefs Arnold or Smith;  that
 disciplinary action would not be taken against the management officials.
 
    10.  In an attempt to resolve the grievance Wright met with Smith on
 April 4, in accord with Step II of the grievance procedure.  Thereafter,
 by letter dated April 9, Smith denied Wright's grievance.  The Fire
 Chief termed this his final decision, and he deemed the matter to be
 resolved.
 
    11.  By letter dated April 22, addressed to the Wing Commander and
 hand delivered, Wright requested 10 days extension to move his grievance
 to the next step of the grievance procedure.
 
    12.  Record facts show that shortly thereafter the Base Commander
 called Smith re the extension request made by Wright.  The Base
 Commander was disturbed because the request had mistakenly been
 addressed to the Wing Commander, and he told Smith that the Wing
 Commander was upset because of its misdirection.  Further, Donald
 Larsen, Chief of Labor and Employee Management Relations for Respondent,
 testified that the Base Commander also called him and stated that the
 Wing Commander was upset due to the misdirected request.  Larsen then
 phoned Smith and related the fact that the extension request was sent to
 the Wing Commander in error, and he said they had a problem with Wright
 not following the requirements of the contract.
 
    13.  On May 2 Wright called Larsen to ascertain whether his extension
 request had been granted.  He was told it was rejected.  Later than
 morning Wright was told to report to Deputy Fire Chief Turner's office.
 He did so and was informed Smith wanted to speak with him.  A meeting
 then took place in Smith's office which was attended by Turner, Wright
 and Fire Chief Smith.
 
    14.  At the outset of the meeting on May 2 Smith told Wright he
 didn't appreciate the latter calling him a liar.  The employee denied
 doing so.  Smith then referred to the request for a grievance extension
 made by Wright;  that how the Wing Commander "chewed out" the Base
 Commander who "chewed out" Larsen, and that the latter "chewed out"
 Smith.  The Fire Chief then stated that Wright was at the bottom of the
 ladder and if he's going to "stir shit", plan on getting some on
 himself.  /7/
 
    Smith asked Wright what he could do to resolve the grievance.  The
 employee replied that there should be an equal distribution of details.
 The Fire Chief then inquired as to the vehicles Wright was trained to
 drive at Station 2 and whether he was trained on P2D and P-13.  The
 employee acknowledged that both were on his license.  When asked as to
 P-15, Wright replied that such vehicle was not on his license.  Smith
 said he would be sending Wright to Fire Station 2 for P-15 training and
 have it put on his license.  The employee did not respond.  Then Smith
 asked Wright how much notice must be given before transferring the
 latter to Station 2, and the employee said "two weeks." /8/
 
    15.  Turner sent a memo dated May 3 to Assistant Chief Arnold which
 recited that effective May 13 Wright would be assigned to Fire Station 2
 for duties.
 
    16.  Wright reported to Fire Station 2 on May 13.  He worked a few
 days but was involved in a motorcycle accident on May 18.  After being
 off for several months due to the accident, Wright was released for
 work.  Upon directions from Smith, the employee reported to Station 1 on
 August 20 where he worked for several days as a driver on the primary
 rescue crew, his usual position.  Wright reported to Station 2 on August
 26 as directed by Arnold.  On September 13 Sgt. Ebert informed Wright
 that after the latter completes his P-15 training he would be
 permanently assigned to Station 2 as primary driver on that vehicle.
 The transfer was made permanent on September 13.
 
    17.  Both parties stipulated that Respondent did not notify the
 Union's president, Del Mar Callaway, of the permanent assignment of
 Wright to Fire Station 2 on September 13.
 
    18.  By letter dated September 17 the Union requested that Respondent
 meet and bargain re the change in Wright's condition of employment, i.e.
 the transfer from Fire Station 1 to Fire Station 2.
 
    19.  In a reply letter dated September 21 Respondent notified the
 Union that Wright's transfer was not considered a change in condition of
 employment since he still performed duties of a GS-081-05 Fire Fighter.
 Further, it was stated the transfer was effected on May 13 as an
 employer right, and that the transfer did not affect Wright's
 representational duties.
 
    20.  Record facts show both fire stations are located about
 three-fourths of a mile from each other.  Employees are rotated between
 stations on a daily basis, although only about six permanent transfers
 are made per year.  Of the 19 bargaining unit employees there are more
 located at Station 2.  The rescue mission at Station 1 requires that the
 employees be skilled in various aspects of fire service and a
 self-development program was in effect to that end.  More knowledge of
 aircraft is required of employees at Station 2.
 
    21.  There are about 12-13 vehicles in the fleet at the fire stations
 and two shifts are in operation thereat.  The rescue truck (P-10) has
 three people per shift assigned thereto.  The P-15 is a million dollar
 fire truck, which is big and bulky, and is strictly a crash-rescue
 vehicle.  All drivers are required to be qualified on all vehicles.
 Wright was the only driver not qualified to drive the P-15.  Inspections
 in regard to proficiency are made by outside agency personnel on a
 routine basis.
 
    22.  Fire Station 1 acts as a delivery service for the fire
 department since it is on the main base and has access to most areas
 needing attention.  Fire Station 2 is a more restricted area.  It is on
 the flight line and the noise level is quite high.  The record indicates
 Wright could come and go while at Station 1 with relative ease so as to
 visit the base and expand his knowledge of what happened thereat.  At
 Station 2 he was quite confined although it appears he could leave if
 official time was requested.  /9/ On at least two days of each week,
 Monday and Wednesday, Station 1 employees come over to Station 2 for
 training.  All of the fire station employees eat meals at the same
 location.
 
                                Conclusions
 
    The principal issues for determination herein are as follows:
 
          1.  Whether Respondent conducted a formal discussion on May 2,
       1984 and failed to provide the Union with an opportunity to by
       represented thereat -- all in violation of Section 7116(a)(1) and
       (8) of the Statute.
 
          2.  Whether statements made by Respondent's representative to
       Wright on May 2 constituted a violation of Section 7116(a) of the
       Statute.
 
          3.  Whether Respondent transferred or reassigned Wright from
       Station 1 to Station 2 because of his protected activity in
       violation of Sections 7116(a)(1) and (2) of the Statute.
 
          4(a).  Whether the allegation of a violation of 7116(a)(5),
       based on a unilateral change in Wright's employment conditions,
       due to Respondent's transferring him from Station 1 to 2, was
       untimely under Section 7118(a)(4) of the Statute.
 
          (b).  If not untimely, whether the transfer or reassignment of
       Wright was a unilateral change effected without notifying the
       Union and affording it an opportunity to bargain thereon -- all in
       violation of Section 7116(a)(1) and (5) of the Statute.
 
    (1) Respondent takes the position that its meeting with Howard Wright
 on May 2 was not "formal" within the meaning of Section 7114(a)(2)(A) of
 the Statute.  It contends that said discussion was an informal attempt
 to discuss resolution of a grievance already denied.
 
    The aforesaid section of the Statute provides for representation by
 an exclusive representative of unit employees at any formal discussion
 concerning any greivance or any personnel policy or practices or other
 general condition of employment.  The obvious purport of the term
 "formal" is to preclude requiring union representation at casual
 meetings or discussions.  In the case at bar the employee was called to
 the office by management, the discussion was held with two of the chief
 supervisors of Respondent, and it was admittedly for the purpose of
 discussing and/or resolving the employee's grievance.  Thus, as the
 record reflects, Chief Smith initiated the discussion by asking Wright
 what could be done to resolve the grievance.  Further, the subsequent
 remarks centered around the manner in which the grievance extension had
 been filed.
 
    It seems quite clear that discussions which center around a grievance
 already filed, which are initiated by management, are "formal" within
 the aforesaid statutory language.  While distinguishing such provision
 from 7114(a)(2)(B) of the Statute, the Authority has recognized that
 discussions re a grievance, which has been filed under the negotiated
 grievance procedure, comes within the purview of 7114(a)(2)(A).  In such
 instances the discussions are deemed formal in nature and mandate that
 an agency provide for union representation thereat.  See Department of
 Health and Human Services, Social Security Administration, 18 FLRA No.
 7;  Office of Program Operations, Field Operations, Social Security
 Administration, San Francisco Region.  10 FLRA No. 36.
 
    In asserting that no formal discussion occurred on May 2, Respondent
 lays stress upon the Authority's decision in Department of the Air
 Force, Ogden Air Logistics Center, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, 17 FLRA
 No. 124.  Although adhering to the standards for determining when a
 union's rights attach under 7114(a)(2)(A) of the Statute, the Authority
 held in the cited case that a meeting with an employee was not "formal"
 as contemplated by the statutory language.  It emphasized the fact that
 the meeting with the employee concerning his grievance was held with a
 first-level supervisor, with no other management officials present;
 that the meeting was called informally and not scheduled in advance.
 
    There are, however, notable distinctions between the facts present
 herein and those involved in the cited case.  Firstly, the meeting with
 Wright was held with two management officials:  the Base Fire Chief and
 the Deputy Chief.  Thus the discussion was not one merely with a
 first-level supervisor.  Moreover, the discussion concerning Wright's
 grievance was not called informally.  Record facts show it was
 pre-arranged and not an impromptu or casual meeting.  /10/ Thus, Smith
 testified as follows in response to a query as to what transpired
 thereat:
 
          "Well, primarily I wanted to talk to Howard about a particular
       grievance that's been going on for some time.  I wanted to find
       out what we had to do to resolve it to everyone's satisfaction so
       that we could get about other things, basically.
 
          "Howard's problem was with the details.  Chief Turner had
       another problem.  In between the two we made a basic resolution
       that Mr. Wright, to get out from under the pressure of the
       details, go to Station 2 . . . " (Tr. 108, 109) (Emphasis
       supplied).
 
    The foregoing testimony, in addition to the content and manner of the
 discussion, convinces me that the discussion re Wright's grievance is
 distinguishable, at least, from the Ogden Air Logistics Center, Hill Air
 Force Base, Utah case, supra.  Further, that the discussion which the
 management officials had with Wright concerning his grievance on May 2
 was formal within the meaning of 7114(a)(2)(A) of the Statute.
 
    In view of certain recent decisions by the Authority, consideration
 has been given by the undersigned as to whether the Union was in fact
 represented at the May 2 discussion re Wright's grievance.  Thus, the
 Authority has held that it is not always necessary for an agency to
 notify union representatives in advance of a formal discussion.  It is
 only necessary that an exclusive representative "be given the
 opportunity to be present." Accordingly, if union representatives do in
 fact attend such discussions, no inquiry will be made as to how they
 were notified or happened to be in attendance.  No notice need be given
 to a union qua union.  Where, in such instances, a shop steward or
 vice-president of a union attended such discussions, no violation
 existed even though notice was not sent to the union itself.  Department
 of the Treasury, U.S. Customs Service, Miami, Florida, 19 FLRA No. 126;
 Veterans Administration, Veterans Administration Medical Center,
 Muskogee, Oklahoma.
 
    Despite the fact, however, that Wright was the vice-president of the
 Union herein, it would defy the bounds of logic to conclude that the
 Union was represented during the discussion with the employee concerning
 his grievance.  Such a conclusion would be equatable with determining
 that a defendant has received legal representation because he is also a
 lawyer;  that therefore his attorney cannot represent him.
 
    In the case at bar the Union did not receive notification of the
 meeting or discussion which concerned Wright's grievance.  As the
 exclusive representative of the unit employees its concerns, as well as
 any presentation to Respondent at the said discussion, might well differ
 from those advanced by the employee on his own behalf.  In this respect
 Wright cannot be compelled to wear two hats at the same time so as to
 permit management to avoid its obligation under 7114(a)(2)(A) of the
 Statute.  Thus, reason compels the conclusion by the undersigned that
 Respondent violated Section 7116(a)(1) and (8) by failing to afford the
 Union an opportunity to be represented at the formal discussion on May 2
 concerning employee Wright's grievance.
 
    (2) Under section 7116(a)(1) of the Statute it is specifically stated
 that it is an unfair labor practice for an agency "to interfere with,
 restrain, or coerce any employee in the exercise of any right under this
 chapter." General Counsel insists that the remarks made by Fire Chief
 Smith to Wright on May 2, at the meeting in the former's office, were
 coercive in nature and hence violative of the said statutory
 proscription.  It is argued that the statement to Wright regarding his
 being at the bottom of the ladder and "if you're going to stir up shit,
 plan on getting some on you" referred to the grievance filed by the
 employee and the attendant request by Wright for a grievance extension.
 
    Employees are afforded the right to engage in protected activity
 without infringement thereon by an agency.  They are entitled to engage
 in such activity freely and without fear of penalty or reprisal
 therefor.  It is also well established that such protected activity
 includes the processing of a grievance.  Federal Election Commission, 6
 FLRA No. 59;  Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Chicago,
 Illinois, 3 FLRA No. 116.
 
    Turning to the case at bar, I am not persuaded that Smith's
 statements to Wright constituted an interference with the latter's
 protected activity or were coercive in nature.  While it is true that
 Smith initiated the discussion by inquiring how to resolve the
 grievance, his subsequent comments re "stirring up shit" were not
 referable to Wright's filing or processing the grievance.  The basis for
 Smith's intemperate use of language and remarks to Wright stemmed from
 the misdirection of the request of extension for pursuing the grievance,
 and this was admitted by Wright at the hearing.  The Wing Commander's
 irateness was due to the fact that the request was made to him, and he
 "chewed out" the Base Commander.  Thereafter each subordinate supervisor
 was the recipient of some censure until it reached Wright who was at the
 bottom of the ladder.  There is no indication that management sought to
 interfere with, or forestall, the processing of the grievance.  The
 record supports the conclusion that Smith, who had been "chewed out"
 also, was likewise upset because the grievance extension had been sent
 to the wrong person.  Thus I conclude that the statements made by Smith
 to Wright on May 2 were not intimidating in nature.  They neither
 suggested any reprisal for requesting a grievance extension nor implied
 that Wright would suffer consequences for continuing to process same.
 /11/ I conclude said statements by Smith did not violate 7116(a)(1) of
 the Statute.
 
    (3) It is well established that the burden is on the General Counsel
 to make a prima facie showing that an employee became engaged in
 protected activity, which was known to management, and that such conduct
 was a motivating factor in any action taken against said individual.
 Internal Revenue Service, Washington, D.C., 6 FLRA No. 23.  In the case
 at bar, General Counsel contends that the filing of a grievance by
 Wright, and his continued attempt to process it further, motivated
 Respondent in transferring the employee from Station 1 to Station 2.
 
    While the transfer of Wright may give rise to suspicion in respect to
 the basis therefor, I am not persuaded that a prima facie case of
 discrimination has been proven.  The record reflects that Wright was not
 prevented or hindered in the filing of the grievance re the assignment
 of details.  Although the grievance had been rejected through Step 2, it
 had been processed in the normal manner and in accordance with Section
 10 of the collective bargaining agreement.  Moreover, it also appears
 that Wright had, in his capacity as a union representative, filed
 grievances and unfair labor practice charges in the past without
 interference, or intimidatory conduct, on the part of management.
 
    It is urged that Smith's remarks to Wright on May 2 demonstrate that
 the exercise of protected activity by the union vice-president was the
 motivating factor in his transfer.  Thus, General Counsel adverts to the
 statement by the Fire Chief to Wright:  "if you're going to stir up
 shit, plan on getting some on you." However, the record supports the
 finding that this comment referred to the fact that the request for an
 extension to pursue the grievance was misdirected.  The Wing Commander
 was upset because he felt the request should have been made elsewhere.
 His "chewing out" of the Base Commander resulted in the latter doing the
 same to his subordinate until, as Smith commented, it reached Wright who
 was at the bottom of the ladder.  The testimonies of both Smith and
 Wright lend credence to the conclusion that the aforesaid comment did
 not refer to the processing of the grievance by Wright.  There is no
 indication that the statement by Smith on May 2 was an attempt to thwart
 processing of the grievance which the employee filed.  It was, as Wright
 conceded at the hearing, referable to the disturbance caused by sending
 the requested extension to the wrong person.  As such, I do not conclude
 that it evinces discriminatory intent on the part of management.
 
    General Counsel also points to the fact that no mention of
 transferring Wright had been broached prior to May 2;  that the employee
 did not request the transfer;  and that it developed only after the
 discussion re the grievance on that date.  While the timing of the
 decision to make the reassignment might be deemed suspect, sufficient
 basis did exist for management's actions to dispel such suspicion.
 Wright had been trained on almost all vehicles except the P-15 truck,
 and this training was a necessary part of a firefighter's job.  His
 reassignment to Station 2 for such training was not a unique action
 since others had been assigned or detailed in the past to said station
 for a similar purpose.  While the permanency of Wright's assignment may
 not have been in accord with the employee's wishes, the decision of
 management to take such action does not warrant an inference that it was
 effected in retaliation for Wright's zeal in pursuing his grievance.
 Although contacts with fellow employees in respect to grievances or
 union matters may have been somewhat more difficult due to his new
 location, it does not appear that Wright was prevented or thwarted from
 such activities by Respondent.  Accordingly, I conclude the reassignment
 of Wright to Station 2 was not discriminatory and violative of
 7116(a)(1) and (2) of the Statute.
 
    (4)(a).  It is contended by Respondent that the alleged violation of
 7116(a)(5) by Respondent, as set forth in the amended charge filed on
 December 31, 1984, was untimely.  This contention is posited on the
 assertion that the reassignment of Wright to Fire Station 2 took place
 on May 13, 1984.  Thus, Respondent insists, the amended charge raised a
 new cause of action which was filed more than six months after the
 conduct alleged, i.e., the reassignment of Wright as a unilateral act
 and refusal to bargain.
 
    Section 7118(a)(4)(A) states that " . . . no complaint shall be
 inssued based on any alleged unfair labor practice which occurred more
 than six months before the filing of the charge with the Authority."
 This statutory proscription was clearly structured in line with Section
 10(b) of the NLRA.  Its intent was to prevent the litigation of stale
 charges wherein the recollection of witnesses may be clouded, witnesses
 not readily available, and documents not at hand.  See Lower Colorado
 Dams Project, Water and Power Resources Services, 14 FLRA No. 81.
 Moreover, it is well settled that the purpose of the charge is merely to
 set in motion the machinery of an inquiry.  NLRB v. Faut Milting Co.,
 360 U.S. 301 (1959).
 
    In the case at bar I am not convinced that the amended charge, filed
 on December 31, 1984, raised a new cause of action as averred by
 Respondent.  Both the original charge, filed on September 18, 1984, and
 the amended charge alleged that Wright was reassigned on September 13,
 1984;  that such reassignment changed his working conditions and had an
 adverse impact on the employee;  and isolated him from bargaining unit
 employees in respect to his representational duties.  Thus, there is
 reference to the reassignment of Wright and to the change in his working
 conditions in the charges.  The addition of an (a)(5) in the amended
 charge did not change the cause of action.  Moreover, the Authority
 recognized that the General Counsel's authority in issuing a complaint
 need not be limited to the strict confines of the charge;  that the
 charge merely sets in motion the machinery of an investigation.  U.S.
 Geological Survey, Conservation Division, Gulf of Mexico Region, 9 FLRA
 No. 65.  /12/
 
    (4)(b).  It is contended by General Counsel that the transfer of
 Wright to Fire Station 2 required notification be given to the Union,
 and that the latter be afforded an opportunity to bargain re the
 implementation of the change and its foreseeable impact on unit
 employees.  Having failed to do so, it is urged that Respondent violated
 7116(a)(1) and (5) of the Statute.  Respondent, conceding that prior
 notice was not given the Union of the assignment, insists that the
 transfer resulted in no more than a de minimis impact;  that, under such
 circumstances, it was not obligated to notify the Union and bargain as
 to the change.
 
    In its latest rationale concerning the issue of whether the impact of
 a unilateral change in working conditions warrants bargaining, the
 Authority has concluded that certain factors should be considered.  In
 Department of Health and Human Services, Social Security Administration,
 Region V, Chicago, Illinois, 19 FLRA No. 101 it looked to:  the nature
 of the change (e.g. the extent of the change in work duties, location,
 office space, hours, loss of benefits or wages and the like);  the
 temporary, recurring or permanent nature of the change (i.e., duration
 and frequency of the change affecting unit employees);  the number of
 employees affected or foreseeably affected by the change;  the size of
 the bargaining unit;  and the extent to which the parties may have
 established through negotiation or past practice procedures and
 appropriate arrangements concerning analogous changes in the past, in
 determining that the impact, or reasonably foreseeable impact, of the
 change was not more than de minimis and thus did not give rise to a duty
 to bargain re procedure and appropriate arrangements.
 
    Subsequent to the cited case the Authority has found certain
 unilateral action taken by management to have a de minimis impact on
 employees in light of the new standards promulgated.  Thus, in
 Department of Housing and Urban Development, Columbia Area Office,
 Columbia, South Carolina, 20 FLRA No. 31 it held that although the work
 positions and duties of two employees had been altered, the impact was
 de minimis.  It predicated that conclusion on the fact that said
 employees remained in Columbia, South Carolina, their pay and grade were
 not affected, and the change by management only affected two employees.
 Further, where the change in working conditions resulted in assigning
 extra duties to employees, ordinarily performed by others, the Authority
 concluded the impact was nevertheless de minimis.  Department of
 Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, Washington, D.C., 20
 FLRA No. 53.  The Authority was influenced by the fact that the nature
 of the duties was substantially the same as performed by the affected
 employees previously;  that no change occurred to any measurable degree
 in the time required by the employees to complete their duties;  that no
 different skill or experience was needed to handle such added work;  and
 the employees were part of a nationwide unit of 8000 employees.  /13/
 
    Applying those standards to the case at bar, I am constrained to
 conclude that the foreseeable impact of the change effected herein must
 be termed de minimis.  The transfer of Wright to Fire Station 2 from
 Fire Station 1 caused a change in location of less than one mile.  While
 he drove a P-15 fire truck which was larger than the rescue vehicle
 driven by Wright at Station 1, the nature of his duties at both stations
 involved driving fire-fighting vehciles.  Neither his pay nor grade was
 changed by virtue of the transfer, and there is no showing his hours
 were modified or altered.  Although General Counsel adverts to the
 difficulty imposed upon Wright in communicating with employees due to
 the fact that Station 2 was not easily accessible to personnel, it
 appears that the union vice-president could have left that area and
 represented employees on official time.  The record also reflects that
 since 1980 Respondent has made transfers of personnel and issued copies
 of memos directing such action to each individual, but it does not
 appear that notification was given to the Union in respect thereto.
 Based on the foregoing, including the fact that the reassignment
 involved only one employee -- with no apparent impact on other unit
 employees -- I conclude the change was de minimis.  Accordingly, I find
 Respondent was under no obligation to notify the Union and afford it an
 opportunity to request bargaining, and its failure to do so did not
 violate 7116(a)(1) and (5) of the Statute.
 
    Having concluded that:  (a) Respondent did not interfere with,
 restrain, or coerce Howard Wright in violation of 7116(a)(1) of the
 Statute by virtue of the statements made to the employees on May 2, 1984
 by Fire Chief Smith;  (b) Respondent did not permanently transfer or
 reassign Howard Wright from Fire Station 1 to Fire Station 2 on
 September 13, 1984 because of his exercise of protected activity in
 violation of 7116(a)(2) of the Statute;  (c) the failure by Respondent
 to notify the Union of the said transfer or reassignment, and afford it
 an opportunity to bargain re the impact and implementation thereof, did
 not constitute a violation of 7116(a)(5) of the Statute -- it is
 recommended that such allegations in the complaint (paragraph 9, 10, and
 11) be dismissed.
 
    Having concluded that Respondent violated Section 7116(a)(1) and (8)
 of the Statute by conducting a formal discussion with employee Howard
 Wright concerning his grievance without affording the Union an
 opportunity to be present as required by Section 7114(a)(2)(A) of the
 Statute, and thus violated Section 7116(a)(1) & (8) of the Statute, it
 is recommended that the Authority issue the following:
 
                                   ORDER
 
    Pursuant to Section 7118 of the Statute and Section 2423.29 of the
 Rules and Regulations, it is hereby ordered that the Department of the
 Air Force, 63rd Civil Engineers Squadron, Norton Air Force Base,
 California, shall:
 
    1.  Cease and desist from:
 
          (a) Failing to give the employees' exclusive representative,
       American Federation of Government Employees, Interdepartmental
       Local 3854, AFL-CIO, prior notice of, and an opportunity to be
       represented at, formal discussions with bargaining unit employees
       concerning grievances, personnel policies and practices or other
       general conditions of employment.
 
          (b) In any like or related manner interfering with, restraining
       or coercing its employees in the exercise of their rights assured
       by the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute.
 
    2.  Take the following affirmative action:
 
          (a) Post at its facilities, 63rd Civil Engineers Squadro;,
       Norton Air Force Base, California, 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 appropriate
       official and shall be posted and maintained by him for 60
       consecutive days thereafter, in conspicuous places including
       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.
 
          (b) Notify the Federal Labor Relations Authority in writing,
       within 30 days from the date of this Order, as to what steps have
       been taken to comply therewith.
 
    IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the remaining allegations of the complaint
 in Case No. 8-CA-40473 be, and they hereby are, dismissed.
 
                                       /s/ WILLIAM NAIMARK
                                       WILLIAM NAIMARK
                                       Administrative Law Judge
 
    Dated:  November 13, 1985
    Washington, DC
 
 
 
 
 
                ---------------  FOOTNOTES$ ---------------
 
 
 
    (1) It is alleged that by this conduct Respondent refused to comply
 with 7114(a)(2)(A) of the Statute in that the exclusive representative
 was not afforded an opportunity to be present at said meeting which
 constituted a formal discussion.
 
    (2) Subsequent to the hearing several motions were filed with the
 undersigned.  Respondent moved for the consideration by the
 Administrative Law Judge of additional citations of cases decided by the
 Authority.  The Charging Party moved for the consideration by the
 Administrative Law Judge of two provisions of the negotiated agreement
 between Respondent and the Union.  No objection having been interposed
 by either party, the motions are granted.  The cited matters have been
 considered by the undersigned.
 
    (3) Although the agreement was entered into by AFGE, Local 1953,
 AFL-CIO, the Union herein, which succeeded to Local 1953 as the
 representative of the unit employees, is admittedly bound by its terms.
 
    (4) The President of the Union, Del Mar Callaway, is located at March
 Air Force Base, near Edgemont, California.
 
    (5) Section 10 of the collective bargaining agreement is entitled
 GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE (Resp. Exhibit 1).  It provides for the submission
 of a grievance by a concerned employee to the first-level supervisor
 either orally or in writing as Step 1.  The grievance must be submitted
 within 15 days of the incident or the date on which the employee or
 Union became aware thereof.
 
    (6) All dates hereinafter mentioned, unless otherwise specified,
 occurred in 1984.
 
    (7) Smith admits to making the statement that if Wright "stirred up
 shit" some would get on that employee.  He testified that this referred
 to Wright's misdirecting correspondence and sending it to the wrong
 people;  that there was no intent to stop the employee from processing
 his grievance.  Wright's testimony confirms the fact that Smith's
 comment re "stirring up shit" was in reference to the misdirected
 request for grievance extension.
 
    (8) There is a disparity between the testimonies of Wright and Smith
 in regard to whether certain other statements were made at this May 2
 meeting.  Thus, Smith testified that all participants, including Wright,
 agreed to the transfer of the employee to Station 2;  that he asked
 Wright how the transfer suited him and the employee stated "it would be
 fine." Wright denies that he accepted the transfer.  Turner, who was
 present at the meeting, did not testify.  The version as recited by
 Wright is credited.  Apart from the fact that Turner did not testify at
 the hearing, Smith's testimony reflects that Turner made the decision
 and that Wright did not seek or request a transfer.  Moreover, Smith's
 recollection, as he acknowledged, was somewhat deficient.
 
    (9) Wright was not denied official time to represent unit employees.
 However, Wright testified he could not communicate with employees who
 did not have clearance to visit Station 2;  that he was therefore
 unaware of a campaign by a rival union to take over the units
 represented by the Union herein.
 
    (10) Note is taken of the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for
 the District of Columbia Circuit in National Treasury Employees Union v.
 Federal Labor Relations Authority, No. 84-1493, October 11, 1985
 (renewing 15 FLRA No. 87).  The Court stated therein that lack of notice
 and formal agenda, as relied upon by the Authority, do not always
 correlate with spontaneity and thus mere absence of notice or an agenda
 will not necessarily indicate that a meeting is not "formal."
 
    (11) The undersigned is mindful of the adopted standard to determine
 whether a statement by management constitutes interference, restraint
 and coercion, as set forth in Federal Mediation and Conciliation
 Service, 9 FLRA No. 31.  However, I am of the opinion that Smtih's
 remarks would not reasonably tend to coerce or intimidate Wright;  that
 the latter was made aware that the statements were not related to his
 pursuing the grievance or engaging in protected activity;  and that the
 circumstances negate any inference which might be drawn as to a coercive
 intent.
 
    (12) The statute of limitations would not apply, in my opinion, even
 if the alleged refusal to bargain were raised for the first time in the
 amended charge filed on December 31, 1984.  I agree with General Counsel
 that the transfer of Wright to Station 2 occurred on September 13, 1984
 and not on May 13, 1984, and therefore the allegation of (a)(5) was
 timely under both charges.  The record reflects the assignment of Wright
 in May was to train on the P-15 vehicle;  that the transfer of Wright to
 Station 2 as a permanent employee occurred on September 13.
 Accordingly, the conduct complained about in the amended charge as well
 as the original charge -- (a)(5) -- took place within six months of the
 filings thereof.
 
    (13) See also U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development,
 Washington, D.C. Area Office, 20 FLRA No. 38 where the Authority held
 the transfer of three employees to be de minimis, relying on the fact
 that it was for a temporary, albeit extended, period;  that the duties
 remained the same, and the change involved only a few employees.