23:0547(75)NG - NAGE Local R14-77 and VA Medical Center, Grand Junction, CO -- 1986 FLRAdec NG

[ v23 p547 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:

 23 FLRA No. 75
                                            Case No. 0-NG-1204
                         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 Labor-Management
 Relations Statute (the Statute) and concerns the negotiability of the
 following Union proposal:
          Article X, Section 9 (b)
          The Union President will be granted two (2) specifically
       scheduled hours in the Union office per week and the Chief Steward
       will be granted three (3) specifically scheduled hours in the
       Union office per week.  It is agreed that only representational
       duties will be performed during these scheduled times.  The
       scheduled times will be worked out between the parties after the
       completion of this Supplemental Agreement.
    We hold that the proposal is within the statutory duty to bargain.
                       II.  Positions of the Parties
    The Agency contends the proposal is nonnegotiable because it violates
 sections 7106(a)(2)(B) and 7131(d) of the Statute;  the governing master
 agreement;  and, finally, because it pertains to an employee who is not
 covered by the master agreement.
    The Union argues that the proposal is negotiable since it is
 consistent with the terms of the governing master agreement and because
 it pertains only to bargaining unit employees.  The Union also argues
 that the proposal would not prevent the Agency from assigning work under
 section 7106(a)(2)(B) of the Statute.
                              III.  Analysis
          A.  Management's right to "assign work" is not a bar to
    The proposal provides for specifically scheduled hours in the Union
 office on a weekly basis for the Union President and the Chief Steward.
 The parties are to "work out" these scheduled times in the future.
    The Agency has the burden of demonstrating that granting official
 time will interfere with the accomplishment of its assigned work.
 Overseas Federation of Teachers and Department of Defense Dependent
 Schools, Mediterranean Region, APO New York, 21 FLRA No. 81 (1986);
 Department of the Air Force, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, 20 FLRA No.
 89 (1985), petition for review filed sub nom. National Association of
 Government Employees, Local R7-23 v. FLRA, No. 86-1011 (D.C. Cir.
 January 7, 1986).  In this case the Agency contends that the proposal
 removes its discretion to assign work under section 7106(a)(2)(B) since
 the proposal requires "specifically scheduled hours" to perform
 representational duties.  The Agency relies on National Treasury
 Employees Union and NTEU Chapter 80 and Department of the Treasury,
 Internal Revenue Service, Central Region, 8 FLRA 197 (1982);  American
 Federation of Government Employees, Local 2094, AFL-CIO and Veterans
 Administration Medical Center, New York, New York, 19 FLRA No. 120
 (1985).  In each of these cases the Authority found proposals
 nonnegotiable that specifically allocated to bargaining unit employees
 fifteen minute periods at the beginning and end of each workday to
 perform particular functions -- packing/unpacking files, reaching duty
 stations, performing personal hygiene and changing clothes -- not
 associated with the work normally performed by those employees.  The
 Authority held that each of those proposals removed management's
 discretion to assign work under section 7106(a)(2)(B) of the Statute.
    Even apart from the consideration that this proposal is concerned
 with representational activities, which are statutorily sanctioned as
 discussed in B, below, the proposal here is substantially different from
 those in Internal Revenue Service and Veterans Administration Medical
 Center, and warrants an opposite conclusion.  While the proposal calls
 for the Union's President and Chief Steward to be granted specifically
 scheduled hours in the Union office, it also provides that the parties
 will work out scheduled times in the future.  Thus, the proposal does
 not itself schedule which hours the Union President and Chief Steward
 will spend in the Union office.  Rather, the proposal allows the parties
 to make adjustments as necessary.  The Agency's claim is merely
 speculative;  it has failed to show that the use of official time under
 the proposal will interfere with the assignment or accomplishment of its
        B.  The proposal is consistent with section 7131(d) of the
    Section 7131(d) authorizes the negotiation of official time for
 labor-management related representational matters such as contract
 administration, participation in grievance arbitration and the like.
 Veterans Administration Medical Center, 19 FLRA No. 120, slip op. at 3.
 The disputed proposal specifically provides that "only representational
 duties" will be performed during the times scheduled in the Union
 office.  As such, the proposal is clearly consistent with the
 requirements of section 7131(d) of the Statute.
    Despite the express language of the proposal, the Agency argues that
 the Union President and Chief Steward will use ne