22:0868(92)NG - AFGE Local 3231 and SSA -- 1986 FLRAdec NG



[ v22 p868 ]
22:0868(92)NG
The decision of the Authority follows:


 22 FLRA No. 92
 
 AMERICAN FEDERATION OF 
 GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, 
 LOCAL 3231
 Union
 
 and
 
 SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
 Agency
 
                                            Case No. 0-NG-1023
 
                DECISION AND ORDER ON NEGOTIABILITY ISSUES
 
                         I.  Statement of the Case
 
    This case is before the Authority because of a negotiability appeal
 filed under section 7105(a)(2)(E) of the Federal Service
 Labor-Management Relations Statute (the Statute).  The petition concerns
 the negotiability of three proposals submitted during the course of
 impact and implementation bargaining on the merger of the Bridgeport,
 Ohio Branch Office and the Wheeling, West Virginia District Office of
 the Social Security Administration.
 
                          II.  Procedural Issues
 
    The Union's petition for review originally contained six proposals.
 In its Response to the Agency's Statement of Position the Union withdrew
 its request for review as to three of these proposals and a portion of
 Proposal 1.  Accordingly, the three proposals and the portion of
 Proposal 1 are no longer in dispute and will not be considered further.
 In addition, since the Agency withdrew its allegation of
 nonnegotiability as to a portion of Proposal 3, the Union's appeal as to
 that portion of the proposal is now moot.  Finally, the Agency's
 contention that the Union's petition for review should be dismissed for
 failure to timely serve the head of the Agency cannot be sustained.
 While the Union initially mailed a copy of its petition for review to
 local management and the headquarters of the Social Security
 Administration, the Union subsequently served a copy of its petition and
 response on the Agency head's designee.
 
          III.  Union Proposal 1 (Portions remaining in dispute)
 
          Hours -- Office hours are from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM.
 
          Employees may use the first hour of the day, 8:00-9:00 AM, for
       training and manual maintenance.
 
                       A.  Positions of the Parties
 
    The Agency contends that because the first portion of this proposal
 prescribes specific office hours, it involves the technology, methods
 and means of performing work under section 7106(b)(1) of the Statute.
 The Agency contends that the second portion of the proposal, permitting
 employees to use the first hour of the day for training and manual
 maintenance, interferes with management's right to direct employees
 under section 7106(a)(2)(A) of the Statute.  The Agency also contends
 that by prescribing certain assignments at specific times of day, the
 second portion of the proposal interferes with management's right to
 assign work under section 7106(a)(2)(B) of the Statute.
 
    The Union argues that the Agency has not made a showing that the
 first portion of Proposal 1 violates the Statute.  The Union contends
 that the second portion of the proposal does not interfere with
 management's right to assign work.
 
                               B.  Analysis
 
    In Department of the Air Force, Lowry Air Force Base, Colorado, 16
 FLRA 1104 (1984), the Authority held that an agency had no obligation to
 bargain over a change in hours that a Commissary store would be open.
 The Authority reasoned that since a part of the agency's mission was to
 provide commissary services for various personnel, the decision about
 the store's hours was mission-related and thus nonnegotiable pursuant to
 section 7106(a)(1) of the Statute.  Since a part of the mission of the
 Agency in this case is to provide services to the public, a decision
 regardint the particular hours when a Social Security field office is to
 be open to the public is mission-related.  Thus, based on Lowry Air
 Force Base the first portion of this proposal which would establish the
 specific hours the Social Security Office will be open to the public is
 also outside the duty to bargain.
 
    The Union claims that while the second portion of the proposal is
 intended to continue the historic practice in Social Security field
 offices of employees using the first hour of the work day for reading
 assigned materials, it does not contemplate employees being able to
 refuse other work assignments during this hour.  This statement of
 intent is inconsistent with the express language of this portion of the
 proposal which permits employees, at their option, to spend the first
 hour of the work day performing training and manual maintenance to the
 exclusion of any other tasks.  Thus, this portion of the proposal is to
 the same effect as Proposal 1 found outside the duty to bargain in
 American Federation of Government Employees, Local 2094, AFL-CIO and
 Veterans Administration Medical Center, New York, New York, 19 FLRA 1027
 (1985).  The Authority held that as Proposal 1 in that decision required
 management to refrain from assigning employees normal duties during
 specified time periods, it precluded the assignment of other work at
 those hours and thus violated management's right to assign work under
 section 7106(a)(2)(B) of the Statute.  Based on the reasons and cases
 cited in Veterans Administration Medical Center, since the second
 portion of Proposal 1 in this case also requires management to refrain
 from assigning employees certain duties during a specified time period
 it is outside the duty to bargain.
 
    As to the Agency's assertion that this portion interferes with its
 right to direct employees under section 7106(a)(2)(A) of the Statute, we
 note that the Agency has not provided any support for its claim.  We
 need not reach this issue in view of our finding above that this portion
 of the proposal interferes with the Agency's right to assign work under
 section 7106(a)(2)(B) and is accordingly nonnegotiable for that reason.
 
                              C.  Conclusion
 
    The first portion of Proposal 1 violates management's right to
 determine its mission under section 7106(a)(1) of the Statute and the
 second portion of Proposal 1 violates management's right to assign work
 under section 7106(a)(2)(B) of the Statute.
 
                           IV.  Union Proposal 2
 
          The attached pages are workflow procedures for the Wheeling
       District.  Changes will be made in writing and management will
       make any appropriate notifications.
 
                       A.  Positions of the Parties
 
    The Agency contends that because this proposal concerns workflow, or
 the means used to perform the work, it involves the technology, methods,
 and means of performing work under 7106(b)(1) of the Statute.  In
 addition, the Agency contends that the proposal interferes with
 management's right to assign work under section 7106(a)(2)(B) of the
 Statute.
 
    The Union contends that the proposal requires management to give the
 union written notice of change in the manner work is accomplished within
 the office, and that the proposal does not concern the substance or
 content of office work procedures.  As such, the Union argues that the
 proposal is a procedure negotiable under section 7106(b)(2) of the
 Statute.
 
                               B.  Analysis
 
    The term "workflow procedures" refers to a written document prepared
 by management which sets out workflow or work procedures within the
 office.  The Agency has not in any manner indicated how requiring
 written notice of a change in work procedures interferes with the
 technology, methods and means used by the Agency for accomplishing or
 furthering its work under section 7106(b)(1).  Nor has the Agency
 established how providing written notice to employees of changes in work
 procedures would prevent it from assigning employees or assigning work
 especially since nothing in the proposal can be construed to prevent the
 Agency from making changes and requiring compliance with them.  Thus,
 this proposal constitutes a procedure by which the Agency exercises its
 management rights and is negotiable under section 7106(b)(2) of the
 Statute.  See American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO,
 Local 1999 and Army-Air Force Exchange Service, Dix-McGuire Exchange,
 Fort Dix, New Jersey, 2 FLRA 152, 155 (1979), enforced sub nom.
 Department of Defense v. Federal Labor Relations Authority, 659 F.2d
 1140 (D.C. Cir. 1981), cert. denied sub nom. AFGE v. FLRA, 455 U.S. 945,
 (1982).
 
                              C.  Conclusion
 
    This proposal is not inconsistent with the Agency's right to
 determine the technology, methods, and means of performing work, under
 section 7106(b)(1) or inconsistent with the Agency's right to assign
 employees under section 7106(a)(2)(A) or with the Agency's right to
 assign work under section 7106(a)(2)(B).  Rather, the proposal
 constitutes a negotiable procedure under section 7106(b)(1).
 
            V.  Union Proposal 3 (Portion remaining in dispute)
 
                          Reassignment Procedures
 
          Adequate training needed for satisfactory performance in the
       new speciality will be provided on duty time.
 
                       A.  Positions of the Parties
 
    The Agency argues that by requiring management to provide specific
 training during duty time, Proposal 3 interferes with management's right
 to assign work under section 7106(a)(2)(B) of the Statute.  The Union
 argues that this proposal represents an "appropriate arrangement" under
 section 7106(b)(3) of the Statute for employees who are adversely
 affected by management's exercise of its authority.
 
                               B.  Analysis
 
    The employees subject to this proposal are claims representatives.
 There are two specializations within the claims representatives
 position, namely, Title II (T-2) involving the processing of claims
 concerning retirement, survivors and disability claims and Title XVI
 (T-16) involving the processing of claims for Supplemental Security
 Income.  According to the Agency, employees are trained "intensively" in
 one of these specialties with only limited training in the other
 specialty.  Employees are then assigned to perform duties in the area in
 which they received more intensive training.  The proposal concerns
 employees who because of the office merger will be assigned duties in
 the specialty area in which they previously received only limited
 training.
 
    This proposal is to the same effect as the portion of a proposal
 requiring management to assign formal training to employees to enable
 them to perform in a position "of equivalent significance and grade
 value" in American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, Local
 1923 and Department of Health and Human Services, Social Security
 Administration, 9 FLRA 899 (1982).  The Authority found that portion of
 the proposal to be inconsistent with management's right under section
 7106(a)(2)(B) of the Statute to assign work.  Thus, based on the reasons
 and cases cited in Social Security Administration, this proposal, which
 also requires the Agency to provide certain specified training,
 conflicts with management's right to assign work.  See also National
 Federation of Federal Employees, Local 108 and U.S. Department of
 Agriculture, Arkansas State Office of the Farmers Home Administration,
 14 FLRA 19 (1984).
 
    We turn now to the question of whether the proposal constitutes an
 appropriate arrangement within the meaning of section 7106(b)(3) of the
 Statute.  We assume that the proposal was intended to ameliorate an
 adverse effect perceived by claims representatives who, because of the
 office merger, are assigned duties outside the area in which they
 previously received intensive training.
 
    Although the proposal would obligate the Agency to provide adequate
 training it does not specify the time or manner in which training will
 be provided.  Management can determine the type of training to provide,
 that is, formal classes or on-the-job training, and further, when such
 training is to be provided.  Nor does the proposal condition the
 Agency's right to assign duties or evaluate employees' performance of
 the duties on the Agency's first having trained the employees.  Rather,
 the proposal merely provides that at some point the Agency should
 provide such training as is necessary for employees to satisfactorily
 perform their assigned duties.  The Agency specifically acknowledges
 that "(i)n practice, employees do not cross over from (one specialty to
 the other) without training." Agency Statement of Position at second
 page.
 
    The negative impact of this proposal on management's right to assign
 work is not so significant as to outweigh the disruption to an employee
 caused by being assigned duties outside the area in which he or she
 received intensive training and the benefit conferred by the proposal of
 an opportunity for employees to receive adequate training so that they
 may perform the new duties satisfactorily.  See National Association of
 Government Employees, Local R14-87 and Kansas Army National Guard, 21
 FLRA No. 4 (1986).  Therefore, we find that this proposal does not
 excessively interfere with management's right, under section
 7016(a)(2)(B) to assign work.
 
                              C.  Conclusion
 
    The Authority finds that Proposal 3 would not excessively interfere
 with management's rights under section 7106(a)(2)(B) and thus, that the
 proposal constitutes an appropriate arrangement for employees adversely
 affected by the exercise of management's rights within the meaning of
 section 7106(b)(3) of the Statute.
 
                                VI.  Order
 
    Accordingly, pursuant to section 2424.10 of th