24:0094(12)CA - HHS, SSA and SSA Field Operations, New York Region and AFGE -- 1986 FLRAdec CA



[ v24 p94 ]
24:0094(12)CA
The decision of the Authority follows:


 24 FLRA No. 12
 
 DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, 
 SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION AND 
 SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION 
 FIELD OPERATIONS, NEW YORK REGION
 Respondent
 
 and
 
 AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT 
 EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO
 Charging Party
 
                                            Case Nos. 2-CA-40051
                                                      2-CA-40102
 
                            DECISION AND ORDER
 
    The Administrative Law Judge issued the attached Decision in the
 above-entitled proceeding, finding that the Respondent had not engaged
 in the unfair labor practices alleged in the complaint, and recommending
 that the complaint be dismissed in its entirety.  Thereafter, the
 General Counsel filed exceptions to the Judge's Decision and a
 supporting brief.
 
    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, the exceptions to that Decision, and the entire
 record, the Authority hereby adopts the Judge's findings, /1/
 conclusions, /2/ and recommended Order that the complaint be dismissed.
 In doing so, we note that the parties' dispute is one of long standing
 that involves differing and arguable interpretations by the parties over
 the requirements of their national agreement, which the Authority has
 recently found to be appropriate for resolution through the grievance
 and arbitration procedures of that agreement but not through unfair
 labor practice procedures.  Department of Health and Human Services,
 Social Security Administration and Social Security Administration Field
 Operations, New York Region, 23 FLRA No. 62 (1986).
 
                                   ORDER
 
    The complaint in Case Nos. 2-CA-40051 and 2-CA-40102 is dismissed.
 
    Issued, Washington, D.C., November 19, 1986.
 
                                       /s/ Jerry L. Calhoun, Chairman
                                       /s/ Henry B. Frazier III, Member
                                       /s/ Jean McKee, Member
                                       FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 -------------------- ALJ$ DECISION FOLLOWS --------------------
 
    Case Nos:  2-CA-40051
               2-CA-40102
 
 DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, 
 SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, SOCIAL SECURITY 
 ADMINISTRATION OFFICE OF FIELD OPERATIONS, 
 NEW YORK REGION
    Respondent
 
                                    and
 
 AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO
    Charging Party
 
 
    Thomas H. Gabriel, Esq.
    For the Respondent
 
    Cecelia McCarthy
    For the Charging Party
 
    Alfred R. Johnson, Jr.
    For the General Counsel
 
    Before:  Samuel A. Chaitovitz
    Administrative Law Judge
 
                                 DECISION
 
                           Statement of the Case
 
    This is a proceeding arising 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., 92 Stat. 1191 (hereinafter
 referred to as the Statute) and the Rules and Regulations of the Federal
 Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), 5 C.F.R. Chapter XIV, Section 2410 et
 seq.
 
    On November 11, 1983, American Federation of Government Employees,
 AFL-CIO (hereinafter called AFGE or the Union) filed a charge in Case
 No. 2-CA-40051 against the Department of Health and Human Services,
 Social Security Administration and Social Security Administration Office
 of Field Operations, New York Region (herein called Respondent or SSA).
 On December 2, 1983 AFGE filed a charge in Case No. 2-CA-50102 against
 SSA.  On January 25, 1984 AFGE filed a charge in Case No. 2-CA-40172
 against SSA.  On December 28, 1983 the General Counsel of the FLRA, by
 the Director for Region II, issued an Order Consolidating Cases,
 Complaint and Notice of Hearing, with respect to Case Nos. 2-CA-40051
 and 2-CA-40102 alleging that SSA violated Sections 7116(a)(1) and (5) of
 the Statute by instituting a new audit procedure in its Mount Vernon,
 New York and South Bronx, New York Offices without affording AFGE an
 opportunity ot bargain over the impact and implementation of the
 changes.  On March 5, 1984 the Director of FLRA Region II approved a
 Settlement Agreement entered into by SSA and AFGE, with respect to Case
 Nos. 2-CA-40051 and 2-CA-40102.  By letter dated July 25, 1984 the
 Director of FLRA Region II revoked the above described Settlement
 Agreement.  On July 26, 1984, the General Counsel of the FLRA by the
 Director of Region II issued an Order Consolidating Cases, Complaint and
 Notice of Hearing in Case Nos. 2-CA-40051 and 2-CA-40102.  SSA filed a
 timely Answer denying that it had violated the Statute with respect to
 Case Nos. 2-CA-40051 and 2-CA-40102.  The Director of FLRA Region II
 issued a letter dated August 23, 1984 revoking a settlement agreement in
 Case No. 2-CA-40172.  On August 28, 1984 General Counsel of the FLRA
 issued an Order Consolidating Cases, Amended Complaint and Notice of
 Hearing in Case Nos. 2-CA-40051, 2-CA-40102 and 2-CA-40172.  Respondent
 filed a timely Answer to the Amended Complaint denying it had violated
 the Statute.  On October 17. 1984 the Director of FLRA Region II issued
 an Order Severing Cases whereby Case No. 2-CA-40172 was severed from
 Case Nos. 2-CA-40102 and 40051.
 
    A hearing was conducted with respect to Case Nos. 2-CA-40051 and
 2-CA-40102 before the undersigned in New York City, New York.  SSA, AFGE
 and General Counsel of the FLRA were represented and afforded full
 opportunity to be heard, to examine and cross-examine witnesses, to
 introduce evidence and to argue orally.  Post hearing briefs have been
 filed and have been fully considered.
 
    Based upon the entire record in this matter, /3/ my observation of
 the witnesses and their demeanor, and from my evaluation of the
 evidence, I make the following:
 
                             Findings of Fact
 
                                Background
 
    Prior to the alleged changes in the subject case, the employees
 received audits twice a year wherein the employees received advance
 notice of the audits.  Each employee had an opportunity, during this
 advance notice period, to review his pending cases and correct any
 errors or shortcomings.  The employee's supervisor would then examine
 the cases in the employee's pending case load, which was at the
 employee's desk and, with the information readily available, the
 employee had an opportunity to explain any possible shortcomings.
 
    The change in audit procedures involved the replacement of this
 biannual (semiannual) audit with a continuous audit.  The continuous
 audit consisted of the employee's supervisor reviewing the employee's
 work through the use of the employee's aged case reports, which the
 employee hands in once a week.  The supervisor also utilizes other
 reviews, such as security audits and pending case reviews.  Utilizing
 all of these reviews and lists, the supervisor audits the employee's
 performance for his yearly evaluation.  Under the continuous audit
 procedure the employee is not given advance notice of the audit nor an
 opportunity to examine his pending caseload and correct errors.  Also,
 because the employee is unaware of when he will be audited until he
 reviews his biannual progress reviews based on the audits, it is
 difficult to rebut findings because the case files may no longer be
 readily available to the employee.
 
    At all times material herein AFGE has been the collective bargaining
 representative for a nationwide unit of SSA employees including those
 employed in SSA's District and Branch offices.  At all times material
 herein SSA and AFGE have been parties to a nationwide collective
 bargaining agreement.  The employees that are the subject of this case,
 in the Mount Vernon Branch Office and South Bronx District Office, are
 included in this unit.  AFGE delegated to the National Council of SSA
 Field Operations Locals (herein called the Council) authority to act as
 its representative for the purpose of collective bargaining with SSA for
 certain employees, including those that are the subject of this case.
 At all times material herein AFGE Local 3369 has acted as agent for the
 Council for the purpose of collective bargaining for, inter alia, SSA
 employees in the South Bronx District Office and Mount Vernon Branch
 Office.
 
             Case No. 2-CA-40051 -- Mount Vernon Branch Office
 
    Prior to October 31, 1983 unit employees at SSA's Mount Vernon Branch
 Office were evaluated under the biannual audit system.
 
    During the latter part of September 1983, Acting Office Manager Ron
 Sobel /4/ met with the AFGE representative for the Mount Vernon Branch
 Office, Drew Stein, and discussed the future implementation of
 continuous audits.  Stein indicated that he approved of the continuous
 audit system because it would be fairer than the two audit a year
 system.
 
    On Friday, October 28, 1983 Office Manager Sgaglione advised Stein
 that they would soon be implementing the continuous audit system.  Stein
 indicated that he thought it was a good plan and that it gave a better
 overall view of employee performance and that he had no problem with it.
  Sgaglione advised Stein she would have a staff meeting the following
 Monday, October 31, 1983, to announce the implementation of the
 continuous audit system.  Stein did not object to the notice being given
 to employees and he did not request to bargain about the change or its
 impact and implementation.
 
    On Monday, October 31, 1983, just prior to 8:30 AM Stein told
 Sgaglione "off the record" that he had spoken to the President of AFGE
 Local 3369, Riordan, over the weekend and that the AFGE position is that
 there should have been some negotiation concerning the implementation of
 the continuous audit procedure.  Because of the "off the record" nature
 of Stein's comment and because she had heard nothing "official" from
 AFGE Sgaglione held the staff meeting at 8:30 AM and announced the
 institution of the continuous audit procedure.  Stein was present at the
 meeting and registered no objection.  On November 4, 1983 Riordan
 telephoned Sobel, then on the labor relations staff at the SSA New York
 Regional Office.  Riordan advised Sobel that Riordan had been advised by
 Stein that the management of the Mount Vernon Branch Office had told
 Stein that the continuous audit system was non-negotiable.  Riordan told
 Sobel the system was negotiable.  Sobel stated it was management's
 position that it was non-negotiable.
 
    In making the foregoing findings of fact with respect to the
 institution of the continuous audit system in the Mount Vernon Branch
 Office I credit the testimony of Sgaglione and Sobel.  I find that their
 testimony was corroborative of each others', was consistent with the
 surrounding circumstances and that their recollections were reliable and
 precise.  I find the testimony of Stein was inconsistent with Riordan's
 testimony in a number of instances and that their testimony was somewhat
 confused and unreliable.
 
            Case No. 2-CA-40102 -- South Bronx District Office
 
    On November 16, 1983, Riordan, President of AFGE Local 3369 and the
 acting local representative for the South Bronx, New York District
 Office, received the following letter dated November 9, 1983, from
 Vincent Hoist, District Manager of the South Bronx District Office.
 
       We will be adopting the continuous audit procedure for the new
       appraisal period which began on October 1, 1983.
 
    By letter dated November 18, 1983 Riordan sent the following letter
 to Hoist:
 
          This acknowledges receipt November 16, 1983 of your letter
       dated November 9, 1983, concerning your proposal to adopt "the
       continuous audit procedure."
 
          Unfortunately, you neglected to define what you mean by
       "continuous audit procedure." The Union has no understanding what
       you mean by this new procedure.  Please supply us with a complete
       definition and description of your proposal.
 
          Is your proposal intended to cover all positions or some?
 
          After receiving this information the Union will consult with
       you on your proposal.
 
          Implementation of this new procedure prior to consultation and
       negotiation is an unfair labor practice.  I request that you not
       implement this new procedure until this process is completed.
 
          In the future, in advancing proposals, it would be more helpful
       if you would provide us with an explanation of the change when
       serving notice to the Union.
 
    By letter dated November 28, 1983 Hoist replied to Riordan's letter
 of November 18, 1983 with the following:
 
          This is in response to your November 18, 1983 letter (received
       here on November 22, 1983).
 
          The continuous audit procedure is an ongoing review of an
       employee's performance.
 
          The procedure will cover all non-supervisory positions from
       GS-2 through GS-10.
 
          The basis for this procedure is Article 21, Section 7a and b of
       the National Agreement which refers to informal discussions
       including reviews of performance.
 
          The target date was specified in my November 9, 1983 letter;
       namely, the new appraisal period which began on October 1, 1983.
       It will be used for informal discussions, and progress reviews.
 
          We will be in touch regarding a date for consultation on this
       matter.
 
    Marvin Peck, a member of Hoist's staff. telephoned Riordan on
 December 6, 1983 to arrange a date for a consultation meeting as
 required by the national agreement.  Riordan declined to set such a date
 because the unfair labor practice charge in Case No. 2-CA-40102 had
 already been filed.
 
    The record established that the continuous audit system was
 implemented in the South Bronx District Office in February 1984.  /5/
 
                         The Settlement Agreement
 
    On March 2, 1984, the Respondent and the Charging Party entered into
 an informal Authority Settlement Agreement for the settlement of Case
 Nos. 2-CA-40051 and 2-CA-40102.  This Settlement Agreement provided in
 part that, "The Respondent will discontinue the implementation of the
 new audit procedure to assess the performance of bargaining unit
 employees implemented in its Mount Vernon and South Bronx offices and
 will, upon request, negotiate with the American Federation of Government
 Employees concerning the implementation of the continuous audit review
 system for appraising employee performance and the impact of the change
 upon adversely affected employees."
 
    On March 5, 1984 the Regional Director for Region II of the FLRA
 approved this Settlement Agreement.  On or about March 12, 1984,
 Respondent's Assistant Regional Commissioner, Field Operations, Alex W.
 Bussey, sent the following letter to John Riordan:
 
          In accordance with the referenced settlement agreement which
       was approved by the Regional Director of FLRA Region II on March
       5, 1984, management seeks to effect compliance as soon as
       possible.
 
          Your request, to bargain, if any, is requested by COB March 26,
       1984, and should be directed to Mr. Howard M. Feuer, Area
       Director, Room 305, 237 Mamaroneck Avenue, White Plains, New York
       10601.  Telephone (914) 428-4430.  Should you not exercise your
       right to request bargaining by this date, management will consider
       its obligations in this regard fully discharged.
 
          In the event bargaining is timely requested, Article 4, Section
       1 of the Master Agreement requires the submission of proposals
       within a reasonable period of time.  Your proposals, in the event
       bargaining is timely requested, are requested by COB April 8,
       1984, and should be directed to Mr. Feuer.  Should you timely
       request bargaining but not exercise your attendant right to submit
       written proposals by this date, management will consider its
       bargaining obligation fully discharged.
 
          If for any reason you or your designated representative cannot
       meet the time frames described above, please contact Mr. Feuer to
       arrange for any extension of time necessary.
 
          Thank you for anticipated cooperation.
 
    By letter dated March 26, 1984, Riordan submitted a written request
 to bargain concerning the management initiated change to a continuous
 audit procedure.  In this letter, the Union also stated that it would
 shortly forward to the SSA proposals for ground rules.  This letter was
 sent to Feuer, and received by him on March 27, 1984.
 
    By letter dated March 27, 1984, Feuer responded to Riordan's March
 26, 1984 letter and stated the following:
 
          As you know, Alex Bussey's letter of March 12, 1984 indicated
       that in the event that you wished to bargain on the impact and
       implementation of the continuous audit process your proposals are
       expected no later than COB April 8, 1984.
 
          The letter stated that, "In the event bargaining is timely
       requested, Article 4, paragraph 1 of the Master Agreement requires
       the submission of written proposals within a reasonable period of
       time." (April 8th).
 
          This is to advise you that I am awaiting your written proposals
       on the impact and implementation of the continuous audit process.
 
          If I do not receive your written proposals on the impact and
       implementation proposals by April 8th as stated in the ARC-FO's
       letter of March 12th, I will consider management's bargaining
       obligation fully discharged.
 
    Riordan, by letter dated March 29, 1984, replied to Feuer's letter of
 March 27, 1984.  In this letter Riordan stated the following:
 
          In regard to the bargaining request made by me March 26, 1984,
       over the management-initiated change to implement the continuous
       audit review system and your reply of March 27, 1984, received
       today, your unilateral deadline of April 8, 1984 for the
       submission of proposals is not accepted.
 
          Instead, the Union will submit proposals within a reasonable
       time frame as set in the ground rules which we can agree to.
 
          I will be forwarding the ground rules proposals shortly.  Your
       cooperation will be appreciated.
 
    By letter dated April 3, 1984, and addressed to Feuer, Riordan
 designated Local Vice President Cecelia McCarthy as the Union's chief
 negotiator and Local Vice President Evelyn Exman as a negotiator for the
 continuous audit negotiations.  Riordan further stated that McCarthy
 would be forwarding ground rules proposals shortly and requested that
 SSA supply to the Union negotiators the names of its negotiators.
 
    By letter dated April 4, 1984, the AFGE's chief negotiator, McCarthy,
 submitted to SSA its extensive proposals for ground rules /6/ for
 negotiations and, in an attached letter, stated that the Union
 negotiating team could meet with SSA for negotiations for ten
 consecutive workdays from May 14, 1984 through May 25, 1984.  The letter
 further stated that the negotiation team would be available to meet on
 April 23 and April 30, 1984 if Respondent refused to set aside 10
 consecutive working days.  McCarthy also stated that the Union would
 forward to Respondent substantive proposals a reasonable time before the
 first negotiation session.  Also on this same date, McCarthy made an
 information request under Section 7114(b)(4) of the Statute for various
 documents pertaining to prior implementation of the continuous audit
 procedure.
 
    By letter dated April 13, 1983, Feuer replied to McCarthy's letter of
 April 4, 1984.  He acknowledged receipt of the Union's proposed ground
 rules and further stated that the proposals and her proposed dates for
 negotiations were under review.
 
    On April 24, 1984, in a telephone conversation between McCarthy and
 Thomas H. Gabriel, identified in the correspondence as Thomas G.
 Hibschweiler, Senior Labor Relations Specialist for Respondent, McCarthy
 inquired as to when SSA would be responding to the Union's ground rules
 proposals.  Gabriel responded that management would not be responding to
 the Union's ground rules proposals until the parties were at the table
 after the Union's substantive proposals had been received.  Gabriel took
 the position that AFGE had to supply substantive proposals before the
 Respondent would set up a meeting to negotiate with the Union on the
 topic of the continuous audit procedure in the South Bronx and Mount
 Vernon Offices.  In this telephone conversation, Gabriel informed
 McCarthy that Respondent intended to reimplement the continuous audit
 procedure at its Mount Vernon and South Bronx, New York Offices on May
 14, 1985.
 
    By letter dated April 26, 1984, McCarthy wrote a confirming letter to
 the Respondent which recounted McCarthy's version of the April 24, 1984
 telephone conversation between herself and Gabriel.  In this letter,
 McCarthy noted that (a) the May 14, 1984 implementation date chosen by
 SSA had been given by the Union as a possible date for negotiations;
 and (b) SSA would not provide the Union with the names of its
 negotiators or dates to commence negotiations.
 
    By letter of April 26, 1984, Bussey outlined SSA's position
 concerning the negotiation of the implementation of a continuous audit
 procedure in the affected offices.  This letter stated, in part:
 
          The message of April 23, together with the referenced
       conversation of April 24, also served to inform you that the
       agency will fully implement the continuous audit system in the two
       offices beginning May 14.  At your request, you were informed that
       the May 14 date was chosen to permit management to timely
       discharge its obligation to conduct documented progress reviews as
       required by the National Agreement.
 
          Local 3369 has previously and repeatedly been notified of the
       need to expeditiously conclude negotiations associated with the
       continuous audit procedures.  In this regard, the National
       Agreement, at Article 4, Section 1, Section 2, mandates the
       submission by the union of "written proposals if applicable within
       a reasonable period after notice of the proposed change." To date,
       the union has declined to submit any proposals addressing the
       impact and implementation of the change.
 
          Your attempt to unilaterally impose a modification of the
       referenced contractually-determined timeframe for submission of
       the union's proposals, as described in your letter dated April 4
       to Howard Feuer, cannot be accepted.  In the event the union
       chooses to serve negotiable proposals, bargaining will commence as
       soon as possible.
 
          This letter should not be construed as managerial consent to
       extension of any contractually-determined time frames, including
       the obligation of the union to serve written proposals within a
       reasonable period of notice of a change.
 
    By letter dated April 30, 1984 McCarthy responded to Bussey's April
 26, 1984 letter.  In this letter McCarthy stated the following:
 
          In reference to the "need" to implement the continuous audit
       system on May 14, 1984, which you allege is necessitated by the
       National Agreement, I addressed this point with Mr. Hibschweiler
       on April 24.  He had initially claimed that it was a contractual
       mandate that Progress Reviews were due by May 1984.  However, he
       could not reference which portion of the contract applies.  In
       fact, if the offices in question will be conducting Progress
       Reviews in May, then, it would be appropriate to postpone
       implementation of the continuous audit system until all
       negotiations have been completed.  In the interim period, the
       current system of performance appraisal in both the Mount Vernon
       Branch Office and the South Bronx District Office should be
       utilized for the proposed Progress Reviews.
 
    By letter dated May 4, 1984, Bussey responded to McCarthy's letter of
 April 26, 1984.  In this letter SSA stated that the AFGE was at fault
 for any delay in the commencing of negotiations by its failure to submit
 impact and implementation proposals and to submit a timely bargaining
 request.  Although the letter stated that SSA would designate
 negotiators upon receipt of substantive proposals and negotiate as soon
 as possible, the letter also stated that SSA reserved the right to
 contest the timeliness of the Union's request to bargain and of its
 service of proposals pursuant to the limits described in the National
 Agreement.
 
    By letter dated May 8, 1984, McCarthy notified SSA that the AFGE's
 position regarding the negotiations had not changed and it would place
 these issues before the Federal Labor Relations Authority.
 
    On or about May 14, 1984, SSA reimplemented the continuous audit
 procedure in its Mount Vernon, New York Branch Office and reimplemented
 this procedure at its South Bronx, New York District Office on May 18,
 1984.
 
    By letter dated July 25, 1984 the Regional Director for Region II of
 the Authority revoked the Settlement Agreement alleging that
 Respondent's May 14 and 18 reimplementation of the continuous audit
 procedure violated the Settlement Agreement.
 
    Article 4, section 1 of the parties' National Agreement states the
 following:
 
          The Administration will provide the Union reasonable advance
       notice prior to implementation of changes affecting conditions of
       employment subject to bargaining under 5 USC 71.  Upon notice from
       the Administration of a proposed change, the designated union
       representative will notify the designated management
       representative of its desire to consult and/or negotiate on the
       change.
 
          The Union will submit written proposals if applicable within a
       reasonable period after notice of the proposed change.  Bargaining
       will begin as soon as possible, and will not exceed 10 (10)
       working days.  All issues not resolved at that time may be
       referred to the Federal Service Impasses Panel for resolution
       under its rules.
 
                     Discussion and Conclusions of Law
 
    The threshold issue to be resolved is whether SSA violated its
 Settlement Agreement.  Soon after entering into the Settlement Agreement
 SSA advised AFGE, by letter of March 12, 1984, that pursuant to the
 terms of the Settlement Agreement SSA was advising the Union that if
 AFGE wished to bargain it should request to do so by close of business
 March 26, 1984 and, pursuant to Article 4, Section 1 of the Master
 Agreement, the Union should submit written proposals promptly, by close
 of business April 8, 1984.  By the foregoing, SSA advised the AFGE of
 the impending change and that it should request to bargain promptly and
 then submit written proposals.  SSA was in fact declaring itself ready
 to negotiate concerning any Union proposals.  The record establishes,
 however, that, although AFGE stated it wished to bargain, AFGE engaged
 in conduct and communications more designed to forestall and frustrate
 negotiations than to facilitate them.  The conduct of the parties must
 be evaluated in light of the actual circumstances and the situation.
 Thus, whereas SSA was trying to extract AFGE's proposals with respect to
 the impact and implementation, AFGE seemed more interested in delay and
 in raising obstacles than in prompt negotiations concerning the impact
 and implementation of the change in this audit system.
 
    In considering the conduct of the parties it must be recognized that
 collective bargaining is a dynamic and functioning relationship that
 must be judged in light of the overall circumstances present.  The
 conduct can not effectively be viewed in terms of a series of per se
 rules and obligations.  Thus, although normally when negotiating an
 entire collective bargaining agreement, a union might reasonably insist
 upon reaching agreement on extensive ground rules before it makes any
 substantive proposals and counterproposals, /7/ such is not the
 situation herein.  In the instant case the parties were dealing not with
 an entire new collective bargaining, rather management was changing one
 condition, the audit system, and the parties in their national agreement
 had agreed upon a relatively expedited procedure for dealing with impact
 and implementation bargaining concerning changes in employment
 conditions.  The parties agreed that upon notification of such a change
 the Union will notify SSA of its desire to negotiate and will submit
 written proposals within a reasonable time after the notice of the
 change and the bargaining will begin as soon as possible and will not
 exceed ten days.  It is clear the parties were trying to set forth an
 expedited and a short procedure for dealing with changes.  The Union, in
 the subject case, tried to comply with the language of the agreement by
 submitting extensive ground rule proposals, while frustrating the clear
 object of the agreement.  /8/
 
    In the subject situation, depending upon the Union's substantive
 proposals and the amount of negotiations necessary, extensive ground
 rules might have been unnecessary.  Such a determination could only be
 made after the substantive proposals could be considered.
 
    Thus I conclude that, in the circumstances here present, SSA's
 insistence on receiving AFGE's substantive proposals regarding the
 impact and implementation of the change, before negotiating concerning
 the Union's rather intricate and extensive ground rule proposals, did
 not constitute a refusal to negotiate concerning the impact and
 implementation of the change and, therefore, did not violate the terms
 of the Settlement Agreement.
 
    Because I have concluded that SSA did not violate the Settlement
 Agreement, the Regional Director for Region II was not justified in
 setting it aside and issuing the Consolidated Complaint herein.  /9/
 Having concluded that SSA did not violate the Settlement Agreement, that
 the Settlement Agreement should not have been set aside and that the
 Consolidated Complaint herein should not have been issued, it is
 recommended that the Authority issue the following Order:
 
                                   ORDER
 
    IT IS ORDERED that the Consolidated Complaint in Case Nos. 2-CA-40051
 and 2-CA-40102 be, and hereby is, dismissed.
 
                                       /s/ Samuel A. Chaitovitz
                                       Administrative Law Judge
 
    Dated:  July 26, 1985
 
    Washington, DC
 
 
 
 
                ---------------  FOOTNOTES$ ---------------
 
 
    (1) We do not agree with the General Counsel's argument in its
 exceptions that the Judge's findings amounted to a finding that the
 Union had waived its statutory right to demand bargaining as to ground
 rules.
 
    (2) In so concluding, the Authority finds it unnecessary to, and
 specifically does not, adopt the Judge's comments (note 6) with regard
 to the interpretation of the parties' negotiated agreement.
 
    (3) SSA and General Counsel of the FLRA filed a joint Motion to
 Strike certain portions of the transcript herein.  AFGE stated it did
 not oppose this Motion.  Accordingly the Motion To Strike is GRANTED,
 and Page 7, line 11 to Page 8, line 6 and Page 30, line 11 through Page
 33, line 8 of the transcript for the first day of hearing are hereby
 stricken.
 
    (4) The Office Manager of the Mount Vernon Branch Office, Marie
 Sgaglione, was on extended maternity leave.
 
    (5) This finding is based upon the credited testimony of employee
 Karen Albert and former employee Lester Guzman.
 
    (6) The ground rules proposals consisted of 2 pages and 10 articles.
 
    (7) Cf. Department of Health and Human Services, Region VII, Kansas
 City, Missouri, 14 FLRA No. 46 (1984);  Department of Defense, Dependent
 Schools, 14 FLRA No. 40 (1984).
 
    (8) In this regard the agreement