24:0943(92)CA - Commerce, Bureau of Census and Edward Hanlon -- 1986 FLRAdec CA
[ v24 p943 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:
24 FLRA No. 92 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE BUREAU OF CENSUS Respondent and EDWARD HANLON Charging Party/Individual Case No. 3-CA-50375 DECISION AND ORDER I. Statement of the Case This case comes before the Authority as the result of exceptions filed by the General Counsel to the Administrative Law Judge's Decision in which he found that the Respondent did not violate section 7116(a)(1) of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (the Statute). The Respondent filed an opposition to the General Counsel's exceptions. The issue in this case is whether Respondent violated section 7116(a)(1) of the Statute by refusing to grant the Charging Party, Mr. Edward Hanlon, permission to set up employee-owned tripods during nonwork time in nonwork areas in order to disseminate information related to a labor organization. For the reason stated below, we find no merit to the complaint. II. Facts The facts are fully set out by the Judge and are not in dispute. On June 7, 1985, the Charging Party, by memorandum addressed to the Respondent's Labor Relations Officer, sought permission to set up employee-owned tripods in four nonwork areas in Respondent's Suitland, Maryland facilities for the purpose of displaying messages to other unit employees concerning a labor organization. The memorandum noted that the request was being made by and for unit employees, but was not made by or as an agent for any union. The Charging Party's request was denied by the Respondent by a memorandum also dated June 7, 1985. The Respondent has granted permission to use tripods in nonwork areas only to agency officials, and to recognized or established employee groups, including recognized labor organizations, to disseminate information relating to group-sponsored activities. Requests by individuals have not been approved and no past practice has developed which would extend such a right to individual employees. /1/ III. Administrative Law Judge's Decision The Judge found that the Charging Party sought permission to utilize the Respondent's space or facilities for the purpose of setting up temporary displays and that the facts in the case were clearly distinguishable from situations involving employee rights to distribute literature to other employees in nonwork areas during nonwork times. As the tripods were to be used for the purpose of posting notices, the Judge determined that the Charging Party's request was analogous to a request to use agency bulletin boards. Relying in part on the Authority's decision in Federal Election Commision, 20 FLRA No. 3 (1985), and Department of Defense, Department of the Air Force, 31st Combat Support Group, Homestead Air Force Base, 13 FLRA 239 (1983), the Judge reasoned that since employees do not have a statutory right to post material on agency bulletin boards or a general statutory right to post material in other public areas on agency property, the Charging Party in this case did not have a statutory right to set up tripods on the Respondent's premises. The Judge specifically rejected the contention of the Counsel for the General Counsel that as a bargaining unit employee the Charging Party had a right under section 7102 of the Statute to set up tripods in the Respondent's nonwork areas. The Judge also rejected the contentions of the Counsel for the General Counsel that a right had developed as a result of past practices which entitled the Charging Party to set up the tripods and that the Respondent had discriminatorily refused the Charging Party's request. Noting that the record in the case reflected just the opposite, the Judge found that it was clearly established that individual use of tripods had always been prohibited as a matter of policy under rules promulgated by the Respondent. The Judge found that the Respondent's denial of the Charging Party's request was based on the need to prevent indiscriminate use of tripods on its premises by 3,000 individual employees. The Judge found that among the relevant factors considered by the Respondent were the best utilization of its facilities, services and managment resources. The Judge concluded that there was no evidence that the Respondent's policy was applied to the Charging Party in a discriminatory manner. The Judge also noted that the Respondent was concerned about its obligations under the Statute to American Federation of Government Employes, Local 2782, the exclusive representative of all the employees in the bargaining unit, and the possible violation of sections 7114(a)(1) and 7116(a)(8) of the Statute if it granted the Charging Party's request on behalf of the group of employees mentioned in his memorandum. The Judge concluded that those circumstances reflected an additional legal basis for denying the Charging Party's request. The Judge concluded that the Respondent did not act improperly in refusing to grant the Charging Party's request and, therefore, that denial of the request did not constitute an unfair labor practice. IV. Positions of the Parties The General Counsel contends that the Judge erred in finding that the case involves the right of employees to use agency facilities and that the setting up of employee-owned tripods constitutes use of agency facilities. The General Counsel argues that the case involves the right of employees to engage in solicitation or the distribution of literature during nonwork time in nonwork areas which are protected activities under section 7102 of the Statute. The General Counsel also contends that the Judge should have found the Respondent's rules governing tripod use to be overly broad and discriminatory. In opposition, the Respondent argues that the Judge correctly concluded that the case involves issues of the right of an agency to restrict the use of its facilities and the right of an individual employee to use those facilities rather than an issue of an employee's right under section 7102 to solicit and to distribute literature. Further, the Respondent argues, in agreement with the Judge, that the Respondent's rule governing the use of tripods was proper and was not applied disparately to the Charging Party. The Respondent also contends that the Judge correctly found that section 7114(a)(1) of the Statute provided additional legal justification for the Respondent's denial of the Charging Party's request and notes the absence of an exception to this finding and conclusion of the Judge. The Respondent requests that the Authority adopt the Judge's decision in its entirety and dismiss the General Counsel's exceptions. V. Analysis In agreement with the Judge and based on his rationale, we find that the Respondent was under no obligation to grant the Charging Party's request and that its refusal was not violative of section 7116(a)(1) of the Statute. While section 7102 of the Statute gives each employee the right to form, join, or assist a labor organization, individual employees do not have any general statutory right to post material in public areas on agency property. Authorization to post material is a matter of agency discretion. For example, Federal Election Commission and Homestead Air Force Base, cited by the Judge. In adopting the Judge's findings and conclusions, we note particularly that: (1) it was not shown that the Charging Party was acting in other than an individual capacity; (2) setting up tripods for the display of notices involves the use of agency facilities for that prupose; (3) there was no past practice of allowing individuals to use agency facilities or space to set up tripods for any purpose; (4) on the contrary, the use of tripods by individuals was prohibited as a matter of published policy; (5) the policy was not applied to the Charging Party in a discriminatory manner; and (6) the Charging Party's request was denied based on the Respondent's determination as to the best use of its facilities, services and management resources and concern for its obligations under the Statute to the exclusive representative of the employees in the unit. /2/ In view of those circumstances, we find that the Charging Party did not have a right to set up tripods on the Respondent's premises and the Respondent did not commit an unfair labor practice by denying him permission to do so. 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 therefore, affirms the rulings. The Authority has considered the Judge's Decision, the positions of the parties and the entire record, and adopts the Judge's findings, conclusion and recommended Order. We therefore conclude that the Respondent did not violate section 7116(a)(1) of the Statute by refusing to grant permission to the Charging Party to set up tripods during nonwork time in nonwork areas in order to disseminate information related to a labor organization. ORDER The complaint in Case No. 3-CA-50375 is dismissed. Issued, Washington, D.C., December 31, 1986. /s/ Jerry L. Calhoun, Chairman /s/ Henry B. Frazier III, Member /s/ Jean McKee, Member FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY -------------------- ALJ$ DECISION FOLLOWS -------------------- Case No. 3-CA-50375 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE BUREAU OF CENSUS Respondent and Edward Hanlon Charging Party/Individual AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES LOCAL 2782, AFL-CIO Amicus Curiae C. J. Schmidt, Esquire For the Respondent Patricia E. Dratch, Esquire Bruce D. Rosenstein, Esquire For the General Counsel Mr. Edward Hanlon For the Charging Party William J. Stone, Esquire Dale Jacobson, Esquire For Amicus Curiae Before: LOUIS SCALZO Administrative Law Judge DECISION Statement of the Case This case arose as an unfair labor practice proceeding under the provisions of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute, 92 Stat. 1191, 5 U.S.C. Section 7101, et seq. (hereinafter referred to as "the Statute"), and the Rules and Regulations issued thereunder. The complaint as amended at the hearing alleged that the Department of Commerce, Bureau of Census, violated Section 7116(a)(1) of the Statute on or about June 7, 1985, by reason of Respondent's refusal to grant the Charging Party, Mr. Edward Hanlon, permission "to set up a tripod during nonwork time in nonwork areas in order to disseminate information related to a labor organization." /3/ It was further alleged that Respondent's refusal was in derogation of rights guaranteed by Section 7102 of the Statute. American Federation of Government Employees, Local 2782, AFL-CIO, the exclusive representative of employees working at the Bureau of the Census moved to intervene as a party at the commencement of the hearing on the ground that activity of Mr. Hanlon's depicted in the complaint was actually designed as an attack upon Local 2728's representational status, and further that the Activity was pursued on behalf of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), a rival labor organization. Local 2782 has a collective bargaining agreement with the Respondent. It will be in effect until July 19, 1987, thus preventing NTEU or any other labor organization, from raising a question concerning representation and obtaining access to Respondent's facilities for purposes of union solicitation, in the absence of NTEU's acquiring equivalent status by the timely filing of a petition raising a question concerning representation. Local 2782 alleged further that Mr. Hanlon, along with some other bargaining unit members, were working in concert with NTEU in an effort to displace Local 2782 as the exclusive representative. Under the provisions of 5 C.F.R. Section 2423.15 of Authority regulations any party may move to intervene in a unfair labor practice proceeding provided sufficient ground to demonstrate "involvement" in the proceeding is established. Division of Military and Naval Affairs, State of New York (Albany, New York), February 11, 1981, Authority Order Denying Motion to Intervene and Granting Permission to Submit Arguments as Amicus Curiae, Case No. 1-CA-334. Counsel representing Local 2782 acknowledged that he did not feel that the proof would show that Mr. Hanlon was employed by NTEU, or that Mr. Hanlon was actually legally associated with NTEU. On the contrary, he indicated that Mr. Hanlon's activity represented "volunterism" and that if allowed to intervene, Local 2782, would not call witnesses to establish evidence of a relationship between Mr. Hanlon and NTEU. He stated, that if allowed to intervene counsel merely intended to participate as an observer (Tr. 7). Counsel representing the General Counsel opposed the motion on the ground that the complaint did not involve Section 7116(a)(3) issues relating to protection of a union's exclusive status; and further that the allegations of the complaint posed narrowly limited issues relating to the exercise of "individual rights" under Section 7102 of the Statute. Counsel representing the General Counsel advised that no proof would be introduced to show that Mr. Hanlon was an agent or a representative of NTEU. Counsel representing the Respondent argued in support of the motion to intervene, but indicated that apart from Mr. Hanlon's obvious involvement on behalf of NTEU, there was no evidence tending to establish that Mr. Hanlon was operating in a representative capacity on behalf of NTEU. On the basis of the foregoing, the motion to intervene was denied on the ground that there was no showing of Local 2782's "involvement" in the case within the meaning of 5 C.F.R. Section 2423.15. However, Local 2782 was granted permission to file a brief as amicus curiae. The brief filed by Local 2782 following the hearing seeks reconsideration of the denial of the motion to intervene, and a reopening of the record for the purpose of allowing Local 2782 to introduce evidence relating to Mr. Hanlon's relationship with NTEU. Counsel notes that full party status for appeal purposes is justified at this stage of the proceedings by reason of the record developed during the course of the hearing. However, the nature of the evidence which counsel would not introduce is not described, nor does counsel supply any basis for the absence of an intent to introduce such evidence when the motion to intervene was first made at the hearing. Furthermore, he does not indicate why he did not renew his motion to intervene and reopen before the close of the hearing. Counsel representing Local 2782 argues in his post-hearing brief that evidence in the record establishes a formal relationship between Mr. Hanlon and NTEU. However, an examination of the record failed to establish that Mr. Hanlon was in fact representing NTEU or fronting for NTEU. Although evidence adduced gives rise to inquiry concerning Mr. Hanlon's relationship with NTEU, it falls far short of a showing that Mr. Hanlon was acting as a representative of NTEU, or that he was acting in any capacity other than that of an interested bargaining unit member. For the reasons outlined the motion to intervene and reopen the record is denied. Based upon the entire record herein, including exhibits, arguments made during the hearing, and briefs filed by the parties, I make the following findings of fact, conclusions and recommendations. /4/ Finding of Fact Basis of Complaint The complaint is based upon the Respondent's denial of a June 7, 1985 memorandum request addressed by Mr. Hanlon to Ms. Colleen Woodard, Respondent's Labor Relations Officer. The request sought permission to set up employee owned tripods /5/ in four nonwork areas in Respondent's Suitland, Maryland facilities for the purpose of displaying "messages to other unit employees about Section 7102 activities." (Jt. Exh. No. 1). /6/ The memorandum notes that the request submitted was being "made by and for unit employees," but explained that it was "not made for, by or as agent of any Union, Union entity, Union organization, Union Local or Union National." The request asked that the "employees" seeking permission be allowed to set up their tripods beginning on Monday morning June 10, 1985, so that other unit employees might be informed "about Section 7102 meetings" scheduled to be held that week. The June 7th request was received by Ms. Woodard from Mr. Hanlon on the same date (Tr. 60). The request was routed to her office because the Labor Relations Office had sole authority to consider such requests relating to union activities (Tr. 69). Her denial, also dated June 7, 1985 was not received by Mr. Hanlon until Monday, June 10th. Ms. Woodard made an unsuccessful effort to effect delivery of the denial on Friday, June 7th but Mr. Hanlon was not then available (Jt. Exh. No. 2, Tr. 23-24, 30, 60). Although Mr. Hanlon's request sought permission for use of the tripods commencing on Monday morning, June 10th, and although he had not received Respondent's reply, he prematurely erected a tripod on Sunday evening, June 9th in one of the four locations designated in his memorandum request (Tr. 24, 30-31). The message posted on the tripod announced "a meeting for employees to attend . . . to discuss union activities and to discuss among ourselves reaffiliation with another union." (Tr. 28). At about 8:30 A.M. on Monday, June 10, the tripod was confiscated by a representative of Respondent's Security Office (Tr. 24-25). It was returned to Mr. Hanlon only after he agreed in writing to refrain from using the tripod again without permission. Respondent's Policy Relating to Tripod Use Ms. Woodard's denial of the request was based upon the difficulty posed in extending the right to erect tripods to some 3,000 employees located at Respondent's facilities in Suitland, Maryland; upon Respondent's conclusion that the best use of Bureau facilities, services, and management energy would not be served by extending the right to erect tripods to such a large group of individuals; and upon elements relating to the possibility of Respondent having to deal with similar requests from such a large group of employees (Tr. 68-70). A key factor entering into Respondent's evaluation of the request related to existing policy extending such a right only to a limited number of recognized employee organizations, as distinct from individual requests for such permission (Tr. 89, 91). The record clearly established that the Respondent has, upon receipt of applications, extended the right to use tripods in nonwork areas only to agency officials, and to recognized or established employee groups, including recognized labor organizations, to disseminate information relating to group sponsored activities (Tr. 43, 68). Requests made by individuals have not been approved, and no past practice has developed which would extend such a right to individual employees (Tr. 68, 89-90). /7/ The authority to permit the use of tripods within the context of the policy outlined was conferred upon Ms. Woodard, the Respondent's Labor Relations Officer, insofar as the policy related to tripod use by labor organizations or in connection with labor relations matters (Tr. 49-50, 56-57). Implementation of the policy outlined and the processing of requests for tripods other than those dealing with labor relations matters has been handled by Respondent's Employees Services and Performance Management Branch (Tr. 42-43). The latter office deals with a wide range of identifiable employee groups (other than labor organizations) having occasion to utilize tripods to disseminate information. Respondent's policy concerning the use of tripods in the manner sought herein is not set out specifically in rules or regulations. However, it is based in large measure on a provision reflected in Chapter K 15 of the Bureau of Census Administrative Manual, entitled "Use of Bulletin Boards and Distribution of Printed Material" (R. Exh. No. 1; Tr. 44-45, 90-91). Section 4.02 of the manual provides: 4.02 Control The Chief, Administrative Services Division in consultation with the Chief, Personnel Division shall maintain necessary controls to assure compliance with this directive. Material which is unauthorized or improperly posted will be removed from official boards or any other place within Census occupied space. Improper posting of materials will be made the subject of appropriate disciplinary action (emphasis added). Respondent considered tripods a form of bulletin board, and relied upon language in Section 3, of Chapter K 15 to limit tripod use to "employee groups" only (Tr. 51-52). That is, the right to post on official bulletin boards was, under Chapter K 15, limited to employee groups or employee organizations. This rule was extended and made applicable to tripod use (Tr. 53, 62). Respondent's limitation of the right to use tripods to employee groups included recognized employee groups meeting specific requirements set out in Department of Commerce Administrative Order 202-707, entitled "Voluntary Employee Organizations," and labor organizations (Tr. 43, 52-53). A witness testifying for Respondent stated: . . . we can't allow willy-nilly any person who wishes to do something to put things anyplace in the Bureau . . . . (Tr. 52). Mr. Hanlon's request did not emanate from a previously recognized employee group or from a labor organization having a legal right to set up tripods, and did not for these reasons, meet Respondent's established criteria. Hanlon's Relationship with NTEU As of the date of the hearing Mr. Hanlon was merely a member of Local 2782. He held no official position with Local 2782 (Tr. 23). Mr. Hanlon had, in the past, served as President of Local 2782, and as the Local's Chief Steward. /9/ Ms. Woodard's testimony reflects an effort on the part of the Respondent to ascertain the precise relationship between Mr. Hanlon and NTEU inasmuch as Respondent's efforts to facilitate Mr. Hanlon's activity on behalf of NTEU could conceivably be characterized as an unfair labor practice within the purview of 7116(a)(3) if Mr. Hanlon's conduct involved fronting for NTEU in an NTEU effort to unseat Local 2782. /7/ The record did disclose some contact between Mr. Hanlon and an NTEU organizer (Tr. 61, 63), and also indicated an effort on the part of Mr. Hanlon to show an NTEU film (R. Exh. No. 4; Tr. 64-65). The proof adduced evidences Mr. Hanlon's strong interest in enhancing NTEU's credibility among Local 2782's bargaining unit members. However, the proof falls far short of establishing that Mr. Hanlon was "fronting," for NTEU, or that he was actively working as an agent or representative of NTEU in efforts to introduce NTEU to bargaining unit members. Conclusions and Recommendations The specific conduct condemned in the complaint relates to Respondent's refusal to grant Mr. Hanlon permission "to set up a tripod during nonwork time in nonwork areas in order to disseminate information related to a labor organization." It does not deal with the question of whether or not literature may be distributed during nonwork time in nonwork areas. The complaint, as phrased, is limited solely to the issue of whether Mr. Hanlon had a legal right to erect a tripod in certain nonwork areas for the purpose of disseminating "information related to a labor organization." Proof adduced reflected that the request actually transmitted to the Respondent was broader in nature than the request described in the complaint. On behalf of other employees, Mr. Hanlon sought permission to set up an undisclosed number of employee-owned tripods in four nonwork areas. The exact size and description of the tripods in question was not disclosed in the record. However, it did appear that the equipment described was portable in nature, and had the capability of being easily erected and taken down. There is no indication of the exact amount of space that one tripod would occupy. There is no indication of the total amount of space, or location of the space, that all of the tripods in issue would have occupied, nor is the period of such occupation reflected. It is apparent that the request is a petition for agency space to be utilized for the purpose of erecting tripods designed to be used for the posting of notices. The Authority has made it clear that the use of agency facilities by a union is a privilege and not a right. United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 6 FLRA 18 (1981); Arkansas Army National Guard, 1 FLRA 877 (1979); Headquarters, 2750th Air Base Wing, U.S. Air Force, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, 1 FLRA 864 (1979). This case is clearly one involving a request for permission to use specific areas for the purpose of erecting temporary displays, or in other words it is a specific request to utilize agency space or facilities exclusively for a particular purpose. As noted, the facts are clearly distinguishable from those in involving the right of employees to hand out literature to fellow employees in nonwork areas during nonwork time. In Department of Defense, Department of the Air Force, 31st Combat Support Group, Homestead Air Force Base, 13 FLRA 239 (1983), the Authority held that neither a union nor an employee has a statutory right of access to agency bulletin boards, and that permission to post material may be subject to restrictions or limitations. /10/ The Charging Party's efforts to obtain the use of tripod space for posting notices is analogous to an effort to obtain permission to use an employee's bulletin boards, and thus the rule enunciated would be applicable here. It is not contended here that the right to use tripods emanates from a collective bargaining agreement. Instead it is asserted that the right stemmed from past practice, and it is contended that Respondent discriminatorily refused to permit such use. However, the record developed reflects the very opposite. Rules administered by the Respondent operated to deny individuals the right to erect tripods, but allowed agency officials and recognized employee groups to use tripods under close supervision. It was clearly established that individual use of tripods has always been prohibited. It cannot be contended that the rules promulgated and administered were discriminatory, and it would not be possible to agree with the contention of the General Counsel and Charging Party that all bargaining unit employees have a legal right to erect tripods in Respondent's nonwork areas by reason of rights conferred by Section 7102. Denial in this case was based upon the need to avoid indiscriminate erection of tripods on Respondent's premises by individuals, a practice which if allowed would have led, in Respondent's opinion, to requests emanating from a group of about 3,000 employees, as compared with the much smaller number of recognized employee groups. Elements relating to the best use of Bureau facilities, services and management energy were considered relevant factors in the denial, and, as noted, there was no evidence that the policy described was implemented by the Respondent in a discriminatory manner. In Federal Election Commission, 20 FLRA 20 (1985), the Authority followed the legal principle established in Department of Defense, Department of the Air Force, 31st Combat Support Group, Homestead Air Force Base, and extended the rule to the posting of material in other public areas on agency property. The following language reflects the Authority's position: Since unions nd employees do not have a statutory right to post material on bulletin boards, it follows that there is no general statutory right to post material in other public areas on agency property. Thus, access to bulletin boards or to other public areas for posting material remains a matter within an agency's discretion to authorize, either by way of provision in the parties' negotiated agreement or as a matter of past practice in allowing such access to its employees. The record herein reflects no basis for concluding that the Respondent acted improperly in refusing to grant the Charging Party's request, and thus, denial of the request did not constitute an unfair labor practice. /10/ Accordingly, it is recommended that the Authority issue the following Order pursuant to 5 C.F.R. Section 2423.29. ORDER IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, that the complaint in Case No. 3-CA-50375, be, and hereby is, dismissed. /s/ LOUIS SCALZO Dated: March 19, 1986 Washington, D.C. --------------- FOOTNOTES$ --------------- (1) According to the Judge, the record in this case suggested that occasionally an individual employee might be allowed, for humanitarian reasons, to "put up" material. The Respondent granted permission to one employee to post information in the facility concerning the employee's missing niece. The Judge noted, however, that there was no indication in the record that any individual employee was permitted to erect a tripod on the Respondent's premises. (2) As the Judge found: "The record clearly established that the Respondent has, upon receipt of applications, extended the right to use tripods in nonwork areas only to agency officials, and to recognize labor organizations, to disseminate information related to group sponsored activities . . . Requests made by individuals have not been approved, and no past practice has developed which would extend such a right to individual employees(.)" Decision of the Judge at 5-6. Further, the Respondent could not lawfully permit a labor organization other than the exclusive representative to obtain access to its facilities for solicitation purposes unless that labor organization had achieved equivalent status. See Department of Health and Human Services, Health Care Financing Administration 18 FLRA No. 59 (1985), remanded on other grounds, American Federation of Government Employees v. FLRA, 793 F.2d 333 (D.C. Cir. 1986). (3) The complaint was amended to correct a typographical error which indicated that Mr. Hanlon filed the charge herein on behalf of a union rather than as an individual employee. (4) Counsel representing the Respondent moved to correct errors in the hearing transcript. Under authority reflected in 5 C.F.R. Section 2423.19(r), the proposed corrections are approved. (5) The tripods referred to were devices regularly used for displaying posters and announcements. (6) Among other things Section 7102 of the Statute provides that "(e)ach employee shall have the right to form, join, or assist any labor organization, or to refrain from any such activity, freely and without fear of penalty or reprisal, and each employee shall be protected in the exercise of such right . . . . (emphasis added)." (7) At one point the record did suggest that occasionally an individual might "for humanitanian reasons" be allowed to "put up" material. This was illustrated by the example of a woman whose niece was missing, and who wanted "to put some material up on that subject." (Tr. 55). There was no indication that this category related to grants of authority to individuals to erect tripods on Respondent's premises. The testimony merely referred to Respondent's authorization to post relevent information concerning the missing niece, and made no reference to the utilization of tripods by individuals seeking to disseminte information. (8) Mr. Hanlon testified that he has been named in impeachment proceedings at the national level of the American Federation of Government Employees, and that as of that date of the hearing these proceedings were pending against him (Tr. 32). (9) By memorandum dated May 30, 1985 addressed to Ms. Woodard, Mr. Hanlon announced that he and other bargaining unit employees would, over the course of several weeks, be distributing literature in nonwork areas during nonwork time (R. Exh. No. 5; Tr. 70-71). Ms. Woodard responded on May 31, 1985, noting Mr. Hanlon's activity on behalf of NTEU, and Respondent's obligations under the Statute to prevent solicitation by any labor organization without equivalent status (R. Exh. No. 6; Tr. 71-72). Ms. Woodard's reply sought clarification of Mr. Hanlon's intent with regard to literature distribution, and clarification of his relationship with NTEU (Tr. 73). In two separate memorandums dated June 5, 1985, Mr. Hanlon disavowed association with any union, and stated that he and other bargaining unit members were exercising their Section 7102 rights as individuals only, and not as representatives of any union (R. Exh. Nos. 3 and 4; Tr. 61, 63-64). As a result of the June 5th memorandum, Respondent treated Mr. Hanlon's June 7, 1985 request as a request filed by an individual (Tr. 67-68, 73). The record as a whole tends to reflect that Respondent continued to question and distrust Mr. Hanlon's representations concerning his relationship with NTEU, as Respondent continued inquiry into the subject even after receipt of the June 5th memorandums (Tr. 74). (10) However, the Authority has ruled that the right of access to a bulletin board may arise from a negotiated agreement or a "past practice" allowing the union or individuals to post material on bulletin boards. Department of Labor, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, Branch of Special Claims, 11 FLRA 77 (1983). See also U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Prison System, Federal Correctional Institution, Milan, Michigan, 17 FLRA 1023 (1985). (11) Neither the General Counsel, nor the Charging Party contended that Mr. Hanlon was seeking permission on behalf of a recognized employee group. It was contended throughout that Mr. Hanlon sought permission as an individual employee seeking to exercise Section 7102 rights. This contention is reflected in the complaint wherein it is alleged that Mr. Hanlon's June 7, 1985 request was submitted as an individual. However, as previously described, the actual language used in the request indicates that the Hanlon request was filed on behalf of Mr. Hanlon and a group of bargaining unit employees for the purpose of obtaining certain concessions from the Respondent concerning tripod use on Respondent's premises. That is, Mr. Hanlon was actively seeking to establish rights for himself, and he was representing other unnamed bargaining unit employees in their efforts to obtain similar rights. Since Local 2782 held the position of exclusive representative, the Respondent was obligated to recognize only Local 2782 in such matters, and could not, without violating Sections 7114(a)(1) and Section 7116(a)(8), enter into negotiations or dealings with Mr. Hanlon on behalf of the group of bargaining unit employees referred to in Mr. Hanlon's memorandum. The provisions of Section 7114(a)(1) of the Statute specifically provide that only the exclusive representative may act on behalf of bargaining unit employees in such matters. These circumstances reflect an additional legal basis for Respondent's denial of the Charging Party's request.