25:0914(76)CA - DOD, Air Force, Air Force Logistics Center, Tinker AFB, OK and AFGE Local 916 -- 1987 FLRAdec CA



[ v25 p914 ]
25:0914(76)CA
The decision of the Authority follows:


 25 FLRA No. 76
 
 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE 
 DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE 
 AIR FORCE LOGISTICS CENTER 
 TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, OKLAHOMA
 Respondent
 
 and
 
 AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT 
 EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO, LOCAL 916
 Charging Party
 
                                            Case No. 6-CA-50014
 
                          DECISION AND ORDER /1/
 
                         I.  Statement of the Case
 
    This unfair labor practice case is before the Authority because the
 Respondent filed exceptions to the attached Administrative Law Judge's
 Decision. The complaint alleged that the Respondent violated sections
 7116(a)(1) and (5) of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations
 Statute (the Statute) by unilaterally changing the working conditions of
 bargaining unit employees when it installed a replacement degreaser
 machine ("degreaser").  That is, the Respondent installed the degreaser
 without providing notice to the Charging Party (Union) or bargaining
 with it over:  (1) the procedures to be observed in implementing the
 proposed change, and (2) the appropriate arrangements for bargaining
 unit employees adversely affected by the Respondent's decision to
 install the degreaser.
 
    The General Counsel filed an opposition to the Respondent's
 exceptions.  The Charging Party filed neither exceptions nor an
 opposition to the Respondent's exceptions.
 
                              II.  Background
 
    The facts in this case are set forth in the Judge's Decision.  They
 will be discussed only where relevant.
 
    Tinker Air Force Base is organizationally divided into directorates,
 divisions, branches, sections, and units/shops.  The Heat Treat/Plasma
 Spray Unit (Plasma Spray Unit) was created in 1969.  The Plasma Spray
 Unit's primary function is to restore aircraft engine parts to original
 dimensions by building up the parts with metal.  Approximately 40
 bargaining unit employees work in the Plasma Spray Unit.  Three to four
 hundred employees enter or pass through the Plasma Spray Unit's work
 area.  There is also a Degreaser Unit at Tinker Air Force Base;  the
 function of this unit is to clean the engine parts before they are sent
 to the Plasma Spray Unit.  Plasma Spray Unit employees have removed
 grease from the parts, however, rather than sending them back to the
 Degreaser unit, either by hand or by using a degreaser machine.
 
    In 1969, the Plasma Spray Unit's first vapor degreaser was installed.
  A vapor degreaser is a tank containing a chemical solvent that is
 heated to produce vapors which clean grease from metal parts as they
 pass through the tank.  In 1978, a second degreaser (Detrex VS-800S)
 replaced the first one and was used until August 1982, when it was
 removed.  In September 1982, a third degreaser (Cooper) was delivered to
 the Plasma Spray Unit but was not installed until August 1984.
 
    Due to certain structural and equipment changes along with a
 different type of installation, the operating conditions for the third
 degreaser were different from those existing when the second degreaser
 was in use.  First, a new building blocked off some windows, causing a
 draft to occur over the degreaser when the remaining windows are open.
 Second, two new furnaces were located in the work area, one of which is
 near the degreaser.  Finally, the third degreaser is partially installed
 in a pit without exhaust ventilation whereas the second degreaser was
 entirely at floor level.
 
    Technical publications and recognized authorities in industry health
 hazards indicate that there can be serious health problems from vapor
 degreasers when they are located:  (1) in a draft because drafts can
 spread the solvent vapors;  (2) next to a heat source because solvent
 vapors tend to decompose into toxic vapors when exposed to heat;  or (3)
 in a pit without exhaust ventilation because solvent vapors are heavier
 than air and tend to concentrate in low areas.  /2/
 
               III.  The Administrative Law Judge's Decision
 
    The Judge concluded that the Respondent violated section 7116(a)(1)
 and (5) of the Statute as alleged in the complaint and recommended a
 status quo ante Order requiring the Respondent to cease using the
 degreaser and to remove its solvent pending the outcome of negotiations.
  He found that:
 
          (1) the Respondent did not develop a "past practice" of not
       having an operational degreaser in the Plasma Spray Unit;
 
          (2) the Respondent changed working conditions when it installed
       the replacement degreaser under markedly different circumstances
       which the Respondent should have reasonably foreseen could create
       health hazards;
 
          (3) the change had more than a de minimis impact on bargaining
       unit employees;
 
          (4) Article 25 (Health and Safety) of the Master Agreement does
       not constitute a waiver by the Union of its bargaining rights;
 
          (5) the Respondent did not give formal notice to the Union or
       give it an opportunity to bargain over the installation of the
       degreaser;  and
 
          (6) the filing of the Charge was timely.
 
                              IV.  Exceptions
 
    The Respondent's exceptions involve two issues:  (1) whether it was
 reasonably foreseeable that the installation of the third degreaser
 presented an increased health hazard to Plasma Spray Unit employees, and
 (2) whether the dispute is more appropriately resolved through the
 negotiated grievance procedure.  Regarding the first issue, the
 Respondent argues that because no health hazard has developed since the
 degreaser's installation it is illogical to conclude that the Respondent
 should have foreseen that the installation of the degreaser would
 increase the risk to employees' health.  The Respondent also contends
 the record fails to show that a health hazard has developed from the
 degreaser's larger size, its canvas cover, or from being located in a
 draft, next to a furnace or installed in a pit without exhaust
 ventilation.
 
    Regarding the second issue, the Respondent argues the matter involves
 health hazards and is therefore covered by Article 25 (Health and
 Safety) of the collective bargaining agreement and is fully resolvable
 using the procedures and arrangements set forth in Article 25.
 
                               V.  Analysis
 
    We agree with the Judge that the Respondent violated section
 7116(a)(1) and (5) when it unilaterally changed working conditions, as
 alleged in the complaint.
 
        A.  It was reasonably foreseeable that installation of the
 
                degreaser presented an increased health hazard.
 
    We recently reassessed and modified the de minimis standard
 previously used to identify changes in conditions of employment which
 require bargaining.  Under the revised standard, we place principal
 emphasis on such general areas of consideration as the nature and extent
 of the effect or reasonably foreseeable effect of the change on
 conditions of employment of bargaining unit employees.  Department of
 Health and Human Services, Social Security Administration and American
 Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, Local 1760, 24 FLRA No. 42,
 slip op. at 5-6 (1986), petition for review filed sub nom. American
 Federation of Government Employees, Local 1760 v. FLRA, No. 86-1702
 (D.C. Cir. Dec. 17, 1986).
 
    Applying the revised standard to the facts and circumstances of this
 case, we find that the nature and extent and the reasonably foreseeable
 effect of installing the third degreaser under the circumstances
 described in ths record gave rise to a duty to bargain.  The literature
 on health hazards associated with the operation of a degreaser,
 including the Operator's Manual used by the Respondent, clearly
 establishes that the presence of drafts, proximity to heat sources, and
 location in a pit -- conditions existing at the time of installation --
 were factors that could produce health hazards for employees working
 near a degreaser.  We believe that it is reasonable to expect the
 Respondent to be knowledgeable of conditions in the work environment
 that could produce health hazards for employees associated with the
 operation of a degreaser.
 
         B.  The collective bargaining agreement's procedures for
 
                resolving health hazard disputes are not applicable.
 
    Regarding the second issue raised in the Respondent's exceptions, we
 agree with the Judge for the reasons stated in his decision that Article
 25 of the master agreement does not contain a clear and unmistakable
 waiver by the Union of its bargaining rights.  See Department of the Air
 Force, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, 5 FLRA 9, 9-11 (1981).  Absent
 such a waiver, the Respondent had an obligation to give the Union notice
 of the proposed installation and, upon request, to afford it an
 opportunity to negotiate concerning:  (1) the procedures to be observed
 in implementing the installation, and (2) the appropriate arrangements
 for bargaining unit employees adversely affected by Respondent's
 decision to install the third degreaser.
 
                C.  A status quo ante remedy is warranted.
 
    After applying the balancing criteria established by the Authority in
 Federal Correctional Institution, 8 FLRA 604, 606 (1982), the Judge
 recommended that the Authority issue a status quo ante remedy.  The
 Judge balanced the nature and circumstances of the particular violation
 in this case against the degree of disruption in government operations
 that would be caused by the status quo ante remedy.  He recommended an
 Order requiring the Respondent to stop using the degreaser and to remove
 the solvent from the degreaser pending the outcome of any requested
 negotiations over its installation.
 
    In the circumstances of this case, and noting that no exception to
 the remedy was filed, we agree that the status quo ante remedy
 recommended by the Judge is warranted.
 
                              VI.  Conclusion
 
    Pursuant to section 2423.29 of the Authority's Rules and Regulations
 and section 7118 of the Statute, we have reviewed the rulings of the
 Judge made at the hearing and find no prejudicial error was committed
 and affirm those rulings.  We have considered the Judge's Decision and
 the entire record.  We adopt the Judge's findings, conclusions, and
 recommended Order only to the extent that they are consistent with our
 decision.
 
                                   ORDER
 
    The Department of the Air Force, Air Force Logistics Center, Tinker
 Air Force Base shall:
 
    1.  Cease and desist from:
 
    (a) Changing working conditions involving the installation of the
 Cooper vapor degreaser in the Heat Treat/Plasma Spray Unit in Building
 3001 at Tinker Air Force Base without bargaining with the employees'
 exclusive representative, the American Federation of Government
 Employees, AFL-CIO, Local 916 concerning procedures to observe in
 implementing such change and appropriate arrangements for adversely
 affected employees.
 
    (b) Using the Cooper vapor degreaser in the Heat Treat/Plasma Spray
 Unit in Building 3001 at Tinker Air Force Base pending the outcome of
 any negotiations requested by Local 916 over its installation.
 
    (c) In any like or related manner interfering with, restraining, or
 coercing employees in the exercise of their rights assured by the
 Statute.
 
    2.  Take the following affirmative action:
 
    (a) Remove the solvent from the Cooper vapor degreaser in the Heat
 Treat/Plasma Spray Unit in Building 3001 at Tinker Air Force Base
 pending the outcome of any requested negotiations over its installation.
 
    (b) Upon request, meet and bargain with Local 916, to the extent
 consonant with law and regulations, concerning the installation of the
 Cooper vapor degreaser in the Heat Treat/Plasma Spray Unit in Building
 3001 at Tinker Air Force Base.
 
    (c) Post in the Heat Treat/Plasma Spray Unit in Building 3001 at
 Tinker Air Force Base copies of the attached Notice on forms to be
 furnished by the Federal Labor Relations Authority.  Upon receipt of
 such forms, the Commanding Officer of Tinker Air Force Base shall sign
 them, and they shall be posted and maintained for 60 consecutive days
 thereafter in conspicuous places, including bulletin boards and other
 places where notices to employees are customarily posted.  The
 Commanding Officer shall take reasonable steps to ensure that such
 Notices are not altered, defaced, or covered by any other material.
 
    (d) Pursuant to section 2423.30 of the Authority's Rules and
 Regulations, notify the Regional Director, Region VI, Federal Labor
 Relations Authority, in writing within 30 days of the date of this Order
 as to what steps have been taken to comply with this Order.
 
    Issued, Washington, D.C., February 26, 1987.
 
                                       /s/ Henry B. Frazier III, Member
                                       /s/ Jean McKee, Member
                                       FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY
 
 
 
 
 
                   Separate Opinion of Chairman Calhoun
 
    I agree with the majority that the Respondent was obligated under the
 Statute to give the Union notice of the installation of the new
 degreaser and, upon request, to bargain over procedures and appropriate
 arrangements.  I disagree, however, with the majority's conclusion that
 a status quo ante order is appropriate to remedy the violation.  As
 noted by the Judge, the new degreaser produces much lower levels of
 fumes than the old one, levels which are well within the permissible
 exposure limit set by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial
 Hygienists.  The Judge also found that there is no evidence to establish
 that any employees have suffered health hazards as a result of the
 installation of the new equipment.  On the other hand the effect on the
 Agency's operation is potentially costly and certainly disruptive.  In
 these circumstances, I find that the policies and purposes of the
 Statute would be best effectuated by a bargaining order rather than a
 status quo ante remedy.
 
    Issued, Washington, D.C., February 26, 1987.
 
                                       /s/ Jerry L. Calhoun, Chairman
 
 
 
 
 
                          NOTICE 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 change working conditions involving the installation of
 the Cooper vapor degreaser in the Heat Treat/Plasma Spray Unit in
 Building 3001 at Tinker Air Force Base without providing prior notice to
 and, upon request, bargaining with the employees' exclusive
 representative, the American Federation of Government Employees,
 AFL-CIO, Local 916 concerning procedures to observe in implementing such
 change and appropriate arrangements for adversely affected employees.
 
    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.
 
    WE WILL remove the solvent from the Cooper vapor degreaser in the
 Heat Treat/Plasma Spray Unit in Building 3001 and refrain from using the
 degreaser pending the outcome of any negotiations requested by Local 916
 over its installation.
 
    WE WILL, upon request, meet and bargain with Local 916, to the extent
 consonant with law and regulations, concerning the installation of the
 Cooper vapor degreaser in the Heat Treat/Plasma Spray Unit in Building
 3001.
                                       (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 VI, Federal Labor Relations Authority, whose address
 is:  525 Griffin Street, Suite 926, Dallas, Texas 75202, and whose
 telephone number is:  (214) 767-4996.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 -------------------- ALJ$ DECISION FOLLOWS --------------------
 
 
 
 UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, DEPARTMENT OF THE 
 AIR FORCE, AIR FORCE LOGISTICS CENTER, TINKER AIR 
 FORCE BASE, OKLAHOMA
    Respondent
 
                                    and
 
 AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, 
 AFL-CIO LOCAL 916
    Charging Party
 
    Lt. Col. Wade Morrison, Esquire
       For the Respondent
 
    Susan Jelen, Esquire
    Christopher J. Ivits, Esquire
       For the General Counsel
 
    Steven Angel, Esquire
    Jerry Barnett, Esquire
       For the Charging Party
 
    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, issued on February 7, 1985, alleges a violation of
 Section 7116(a)(1) and (5) of the Statute, "since on or about August 15,
 1984, the exact date being unknown, and continuing to date," by reason
 of a failure and refusal to bargain in good faith with the Union as
 exclusive bargaining representative for bargaining unit employees "by
 unilaterally changing working conditions involving the installation of a
 vapor degreaser in the Heat Treat Annex of Building 3001 (at Tinker
 AFB), without prior notice to or bargaining with the exclusive
 representative over procedures to be observed in implementing the
 proposed change and appropriate arrangements for adversely affected
 employees as a result of Respondent's decision to install a vapor
 degreaser." See G.C. Exh. 1(d).  /3/ Respondent denies that any
 statutory violations have occurred.
 
    Based upon the entire record herein, including exhibits, my
 observation of the demeanor of the witnesses, the arguments made during
 the hearing, and briefs filed by the parties, I make the following
 findings of fact, conclusions and recommendations.
 
                             Findings of Fact
 
    It is admitted that, at all times material herein, the Air Force
 Logistics Command ("AFLC") has been and is a major command of the Air
 Force engaged in worldwide logistical support to components of the Air
 Force from facilities at several bases of the Air Force including Tinker
 Air Force Base, designated as "OCALC";  that AFLC has been and is an
 agency within the meaning of 5 U.S.C. 7103(a)(3);  and that OCALC has
 been and is the only activity of AFLC directly involved in these
 proceedings.
 
    It is further admitted that the American Federation of Government
 Employees, AFL-CIO ("AFGE") and Local 916 (hereinafter referred to also
 as the "Union", have been, at all times material herein, labor
 organizations with the meaning of 5 U.S.C. 7103(a)(4).  It is further
 admitted that, at all times material herein, AFGE has represented a
 national consolidated unit of employees at AFLC, including
 nonsupervisory, nonprofessional employees at various AFLC activities,
 including OCALC at Tinker Air Force Base ("AFB"), with exceptions not
 here relevant.  It is further admitted that, at all times material
 herein, Local 916 is and has been the representative of AFGE at OCALC
 Tinker AFB for the purposes of collective bargaining, representation of
 unit employees, administrative of collective bargaining agreements, and
 dealing with management.  It is further admitted that, at all times
 material herein, AFGE and AFLC have been parties to a master agreement
 covering the unit of employees above described and executed on June 1,
 1982, and that Local 916, AFLC and OCALC have been parties to a Local
 supplement agreement.  See G.C. Exh. 1(d) and (j) and R. Exh. 1.  There
 are about 16,000 bargaining unit employees located at Tinker AFB. (Tr.
 35)
 
                                Background
 
    Tinker AFB is organizationally divided into directorates, which are
 subdivided into divisions, which are further subdivided into branches.
 Branches are subdivided into sections, and sections are divided into
 units or shops.  (Tr. 34) Plasma Spray and Heat Treat constitute a
 single unit of the PSH Branch of the MAE Division within the
 organizational structure at Tinker AFB.  (Tr. 34, 174) There are two
 shifts of employees who work in Plasma Spray, day and swing (evening).
 There are approximately 40 bargaining unit employees employed in the
 Heat Treat/Plasma Spray Unit.  (Tr. 87) Three to four hundred employees
 have work duties which require them to go into or work in the Heat
 Treat/Plasma Spray Unit or use the Unit as access to their work areas.
 (Tr. 55)
 
    The Plasma Spray Unit's primary function is to build up parts with
 metal.  (Tr. 57) The employees' position description states that the
 Unit employs a variety of semi-automatic or non-automatic metalizing
 machines to apply any of a wide variety of wires, metal powder, and
 gases to build up, restore original dimensions, and prevent corrosion of
 aircraft engine parts.  (R. Exh. 10) Employees in Plasma Spray are
 responsible for checking serial numbers on parts and the work control
 documents, and sand blasting, cleaning and spraying parts.  (Tr. 57-58)
 Preliminary to the metal build-up, employees may also be required to use
 "degreaser" to degrease parts.  (R. Exh. 9-10) There are two processes
 used for degreasing parts:  the parts may be degreased either by using a
 degreasing solvent on the part and wiping it clean;  or by using a
 degreasing machine.  (Tr. 95-96) There is also a separate Degrease Unit
 at Tinker Air Force Base which primarily does degreasing.  (Tr. 248) A
 part of the responsibility of the Degrease Unit has been to degrease
 parts which go to the Plasma Spray Unit.  (Tr. 248) Nevertheless, some
 greasy or soiled parts have been received in the Heat Treat/Plasma Spray
 Unit.  Employees of Plasma Spray, upon receipt of a greasy part, have
 recycled it back to the Degrease Unit (Tr. 248-249) or degreased it in
 the hand process with a degreasing solvent called MEK.  (Tr. 97).  One
 employee employed in Plasma Spray Unit for seven years did not consider
 it part of her job to use the degreasing machine.  (Tr. 98)
 
    A vapor degreaser machine uses solvent vapors by converting solvent
 liquid to vapors in a fuming process.  When these vapors are brought in
 contact with a soiled article, the vapor condenses to a liquid on the
 article.  As the solvent drains by gravity, the soluable and insoluable
 soil is cleaned off the part.  A number of different solvents may be
 used in the process.  (G.C. Exh. 4, p. 1) The degreasers at Tinker AFB
 use a solvent known as perchloroethylene (Tr. 46), which is also known
 as tetrachloroethylene.  (Tr. 43A;  G.C. Exh. 6 and 7) The Cooper vapor
 degreaser which was installed in the Heat Treat/Plasma Spray Unit uses
 perchloroethylene.  (Tr. 47, 58).  Perchloroethylene is a chemical which
 is used as a dry cleaning solvent and degreasing agent.  (G.C. Exh. 7)
 It can affect the body if inhaled or if it comes in contact with the
 eyes or skin.  On a short-term exposure basis, it can cause headaches,
 nausea, drowsiness, dizziness, loss of coordination and unconsciousness.
  It can also cause irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, and flushing
 of the face and neck.  (G.C. Exh. 6, p. 1) Further, such short exposure
 can cause a metallic taste and a tightness of the frontal sinuses.
 (G.C. Exh. 7) Also, even short term exposure to perchloroethylene can
 cause liver damage.  (G.C. Exh. 6) Prolonged or repeated overexposure
 can cause damage to the liver and kidneys.  (G.C. Exh. 6) Exposure to
 perchloroethylene has also resulted in adverse effects to the central
 nervous system, the lungs, and the heart.  (G.C. Exh. 7) Death can
 result if too much solvent vapor is inhaled.  (G.C. Exh. 5, p. 18)
 Perchloroethylene is a chlorinated solvent.  (G.C. Exh. 5, p. 15) When
 the vapors of a chlorinated solvent, such as perchloroethylene, are
 exposed to a heat source, they tend to decompose forming carbon
 monoxide, hydrogen chloride, chlorine, and phosgene.  (G.C. Exh. 4, p.
 30 and G.C. Exh. 5, p. 17) Hydrogen chloride can be inhaled and can
 cause irritation of the respiratory tract (burning, choking, and
 coughing), and ulceration of the nose and throat.  (G.C. Exh. 9, p. 1)
 Carbon monoxide decreases the ability of the blood to carry oxygen to
 the tissues.  Inhalation of carbon monoxide can cause headaches, nausea,
 dizziness, weakness, rapid breathing, unconsciousness, and ultimately
 death.  Exposure to carbon monoxide may also aggravate heart disease.
 (G.C. Exh. 10, p. 1) Phosgene, after a minute or so of exposure to low
 concentrations, can cause cough or discomfort in the chest, and
 irritation of the nose and throat.  Phosgene may cause pulmonary edema
 with coughing, shortness of breath, and production of frothy sputum and
 may irritate the eyes.  (G.C. Exh. 11, p. 1) Some employees are more
 susceptible to the effects of these chemicals than others.  (Tr. 240)
 
    The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists
 ("ACIH") has set the permissible exposure limit for perchloroethylene at
 50 parts per million (ppm).  (Tr. 216, G.C. Exh. 8) Continuing strong or
 objectionable solvent odor can prove to be a serious situation.  Such
 strong solvent odors indicate high vapor concentrations that may
 endanger the health of the operator and others working in the vicinity
 of the degreaser.  (G.C. Exh. 5, p. 22) In terms of odor,
 perchloroethylene solvent is barely detectable at the permissible
 exposure limit of 50 ppm;  the odor is slight but not unpleasant at 150
 ppm;  the odor is strong and unpleasant at 400 ppm.  (G.C. Exh. 5, p.
 16;  G.C. Exh. 14)
 
    Because of the health hazards associated with vapor degreasers and
 their resultant vapors, certain safeguards are recommended by the
 American Society for Testing and Materials ("ASTM";  G.C. Exh. 3),
 William A. Burgess, Associate Professor of Occupational Health
 Engineering, Harvard School of Public Health (G.C. Exh. 4), and Dow
 Chemical Company.  (G.C. Exh. 5) Degreasers should be installed so that
 they are not affected by drafts caused by windows, doors, and unit
 heaters.  Degreasers should not be installed near open flames or near
 high temperature surfaces.  (G.C. Exh. 3, p. 23) Since chlorinated
 solvent vapors are heavier than air (G.C. Exh. 5, p. 18), when
 degreasers are installed in pits, mechanical exhaust ventilation should
 be provided in the pit.  (G.C. Exh. 4, p. 29;  G.C. Exh. 5, p. 12) Since
 solvent fumes can decompose into toxic air contaminants, the degreaser
 should not be placed near open flames or electric heating elements.
 (G.C. Exh. 4, p. 29) Protective equipment should be provided to
 safeguard the health and safety of degreaser operators.  (G.C. Exh. 5,
 p. 17) Employees should be thoroughly trained before operating a
 degreaser.  (G.C. Exh. 3, p. 33) Since operating instructions vary with
 design, type, and work cycle of the unit, it is essential that the
 operator be familiar with the specific instructions pertaining to the
 unit.  (G.C. Exh. 3, p. 24)
 
   History of the Vapor Degreaser in the Heat Treat/Plasma Spray Unit.
 
    In 1969 the Plasma Spray function was combined with the Heat
 Treatment Unit in a workshop in Building 3001 at Tinker Air Force Base.
 That shop became known as the Heat Treat/Plasma Spray Unit, office
 symbol MAEPSH.  (Tr. 173-174) The original plans for the Heat
 Treat/Plasma Spray Unit (R. Exhs. 2 and 3) included provisions for
 installation of a degreaser;  and a degreaser was installed in 1969.
 (Tr. 163, 174) In 1978 the degreaser was replaced with another larger
 degreaser, called a "Detrex VS8005 Degreaser" because the old degreaser
 was in bad shape and was too small.  (Tr. 163 and 169;  R. Exhs. 4 and
 6)
 
    Testing done by Bioenvironmental Engineering on the Detrex degreaser
 on April 25, 1980, showed an excessive amount of fumes emanating from
 the degreaser.  (Tr. 199-200;  R. Exh. 12) Sampling one foot from the
 tank edge in a "grab sample" showed a concentration of perchloroethylene
 of 250 ppm, which was in excess of the then permissible exposure level
 (PEL) of 100 ppm.  (Tr. 199-200;  R. Exh. 12) On April 28, 1980,
 Bioenvironmental Engineering submitted an ALC Form 916 (Notice of
 Unsafe/Unhealthy Condition) to Mr. Myers in MAEPSH, and recommended
 certain corrective measures.  (Tr. 200;  R. Exh. 13) A "grab sample" was
 again taken on May 2, 1980, and was determined to contain a
 concentration of perchloroethylene of 200 ppm -- again above the then
 PEL of 100 ppm.  (Tr.203-204);  R. Exh. 14) On March 16, 1981,
 Bioenvironmental Engineering sent a letter to MAEPSH, notifying
 management that a "grab sample" taken on March 10, 1981, showed a
 concentration level of perchloroethylene of 240 ppm -- again above the
 then PEL.  (Tr. 204-205);  R. Exh. 15) On April 3, 1981,
 Bioenvironmental Engineering advised Mr. Tatum in the Facilities and
 Equipment Engineering Services Section (Tr. 159) that samples taken on
 March 25, 1981 in MAEPSH showed perchloroethylene levels of 50 to 100
 ppm, which were within the then-existing PEL, but not the present PEL
 for perchloroethylene, which is now 50 ppm.  (Tr. 205-206;  R. Exh. 16)
 On May 6, 1981 Bioenvironmental Engineering advised MAEPSH that sampling
 in March and April of 1981 showed perchloroethylene concentration levels
 between 50-100 ppm, which were within the then-existing PEL that was
 likely to be reduced to 50 ppm in the near future.  (Tr. 206;  R. Exh.
 17) On May 4, 1981 Bioenvironmental Engineering took 6-hour samples
 around one employee and four fixed locations around the degreaser in the
 Heat Treat/Plasma Spray Unit.  (Tr. 207-215;  R. Exhs. 18(a) and (b))
 Laboratory results disclosed time-weighted average tetrachloroethylene
 concentration levels of 33 mg/m3, 28.5 mg/m3, 93.8 mg/m3 and 21 mg/m3.
 (Tr. 207-215;  R. Exh. 18(c) and (d)) /4/
 
    In August 1982 management initiated the paperwork to again replace
 the degreaser in the Heat Treat/Plasma Spray Unit.  (Tr. 166, R. Exhs. 6
 and 7) Although management submitted the service order to install the
 new degreaser on September 14, 1982 (Tr. 166;  R. Exh. 7), it was not
 installed until approximately two years later.  The degreaser that was
 eventually installed was new (Tr. 167).  The new degreaser was made by a
 different company, Cooper.  (Tr. 169)
 
    Sometime after the old degreaser was removed, the new degreaser was
 brought into the shop and placed a few feet from the spot where the old
 degreaser had been located.  (Tr. 100-101, 143, 166-167, 176, 246) A
 General Counsel's witness estimated that "four or five, maybe six
 months" elapsed between when management took out the old degreaser and
 brought in the new one (Tr. 143);  and Respondent's witness estimated
 three or four months.  (Tr. 176) Some employees were told and found out
 that it was a new degreaser that would or might replace the old one.
 (Tr. 100-101, 143, 179, 246) At least one employee knew that it was a
 bigger degreaser than the old one.  (Tr. 143) The new degreaser sat on
 the shop floor, in a crate, for a period of months before being moved
 out to Building 3105 so that it would not be in the way of the
 installation of furnaces being put in next to it.  (Tr. 100, 176) After
 the installation of one of the furnaces, the new degreaser was brought
 back to the Heat Treat/Plasma Spray Unit and placed "on site again."
 (Tr. 177) The new degreaser stayed out in Building 3105 for three to
 four months before it was brought back to the shop.  (Tr. 146) The new
 degreaser then remained on site in Building 3001 for about six months
 before installation began.  (Tr. 177) Normally, the installation of the
 degreaser would have taken approximately 203 days to complete.  (Tr.
 167-168;  R. Exhs. 8(a) and (b)) However, higher priority projects
 caused a delay in installation.  (Tr. 168, 171) Moreover, the installers
 broke a heat-sensing device during installation, so the project sat idle
 for two or three months awaiting new parts.  (Tr. 177-178) Once the
 degreaser was installed, it developed a water leak and trouble with the
 heating coils.  (Tr. 178) The new degreaser caused the emission of fumes
 that were noticeable.  (Tr. 180, 249) Respondent acknowledges that it
 "caused a stink, literally." See page 4 of Respondent's brief.
 
    It is not clear just when the new degreaser became operational for
 the first time.  One employee estimated late August or early September
 1984.  (Tr. 106-108) A report of OCALC indicated that it was still not
 operational on October 3.  (G.C. Exh. 13)
 
    Woodville Couch, an employee in Plasma Spray and a union steward,
 filed a Hazard Report on September 21, 1984, and described the hazard as
 the location of the new degreaser in a draft which was causing fumes to
 be spread throughout the Unit.  (Tr. 108 and G.C. Exh. 13) Within
 probably four or five days after the filing of the Hazard Report, a sign
 was placed on the new degreaser which read:  "Do not operate." (Tr. 109)
 On October 19, 1984, Mr. Couch received a reply, stating that management
 "was going to make an evaluation of it." (Tr. 110) The reply indicated
 that the new degreaser had some operational problems, one being a lack
 of trained personnel, and that sampling would occur in the future.
 (G.C. Exh. 13) In December 1984, the new degreaser was "reactivated,"
 and has been used consistently since that time.  (Tr. 110)
 
    After the filing of the Hazard Report, repairmen worked on the new
 degreaser for approximately six weeks.  (Tr. 178) and Bioenvironmental
 Engineering was called to check on the fumes being emitted.  (Tr.
 196/197)
 
    The first sampling on the new degreaser was performed on February 7,
 1985.  (Tr. 215-216;  R. Exh. 19) The two "grab samples" showed
 perchloroethylene levels of 6 ppm at one location and 10 ppm at another
 -- well below the new PEL of 50 ppm.  (Tr. 215-216, 237;  R. Exh. 19)
 These samples were taken while the samplers were standing by an employee
 putting a part in the degreaser.  (Tr. 237) Testing on the new degreaser
 was done again on February 14, 1985.  As indicated on the AF Form 2750
 (R. Exhs. 20(c), the testing was done around two individuals over a 7
 and 1/2 hour period, and the results showed perchloroethylene levels of
 18.8 mg/m3 and 27.55 mg/m3, compared to the PEL of 335 mg/m3.  (Tr.
 216-218;  R. Exhs. 20(a)-(d) Testing on the new degreaser was done again
 in June 1985.  (Tr. 218) As indicated on the AF Forms 2750 (R. Exhs.
 21(c)-(f)), samples were collected around two individuals and three
 fixed locations around the degreaser over periods ranging from three to
 four hours, and the results showed time-weighted average
 perchloroethylene levels of 0, 11 mg/m3, 15 mg/m3, 22 mg/m3, and 66
 mg/m3, compared to the PEL of 335 mg/m3.  (Tr. 218-219;  R. Exhs.
 21(a)-(g))
 
    The degreaser usually used by Heat Treat/Plasma Spray Unit employees
 in the 1982-1984 period (the degreaser in the Paint Shop) was tested for
 perchloroethylene levels on February 21, 1984.  (Tr. 243, 219) Sampling
 data taken around two employees on February 21, 1984 showed
 time-weighted average perchloroethylene concentration levels of 89 mg/m3
 and 66 mg/m3.  (R. Exhs. 22(a)-(h))
 
                Notice to the Union and Failure to Bargain
 
    OCALC Tinker AFB concedes that management "never formally notified
 the Union of its intent to replace the old degreaser with a new one."
 (See page 5 of its Post Hearing Brief.) Its General Foreman in the Heat
 Treat/Plasma Spray Unit admits that he never gave "any notice to any
 union members or the union concerning the installation and beginning of
 the operations of the present degreaser." (Tr. 173, 188)
 
    Back in August 1984, Anna Beck, an employee of the Plasma Spray Unit,
 told Reata Johnson, Division Steward, that a new degreaser had been
 installed in the Unit and the Activity had brought in barrels of
 perchloroethylene for use in the machine.  (Tr. 37) This was when Ms.
 Johnson first learned of the new vapor degreaser.  The Activity had
 never notified Ms. Johnson or the Union of the installation of the
 machine.  Ms. Johnson is one of the Union officials who receives notice
 of changes.  (Tr. 37, 188) Shortly after learning about the existence of
 the machine, Ms. Johnson prepared a letter dated September 20, 1984
 requesting bargaining "(i)n accordance with the Master Labor Agreement
 Article 33, Section 33.03, paragraph b, covering changes in local
 conditions of employment . . . . " (G.C. Exh. 2) This letter was
 addressed to Roy Bryars, Chief, MAEPS Section.  The letter was signed by
 Phil Porter, Chief Steward of the Union.  Specifically, the letter
 indicated that James Berryman, supervisor for the swing shift in the
 Heat Treat/Plasma Spray Unit, had indicated that unspecified changes in
 the Unit "would be implemented before the first of the year." (G.C. Exh.
 2) Ms. Johnson asked if the degreaser was "part of it" and was told that
 Mr. Berryman "wasn't at liberty to give (her) an answer to any of (her)
 questions." (Tr. 39) Ms. Johnson requested bargaining over "new changes
 of conditions planned in M aepsh Plasma Spray Unit." (G.C. Exh. 2) Ms.
 Johnson admitted that, at the time of the letter, the new degreaser had
 not been put into operation.  (Tr. 39 and 56) Ms. Johnson, who the
 letter designated as the Union's representative in the matter, never
 received a reply.  (Tr. 38).  There is no evidence that OCALC has ever
 indicated a willingness to bargain with the Union to the extent required
 by statute following the filing of the unfair labor practice charge in
 this case.
 
    Other than the request to bargain, on September 20, 1984, the Union
 never again requested to bargain the impact and implementation of
 management's decision to replace the old degreaser with a new one,
 either before or after the new degreaser was installed.
 
    On October 3, 1984, the Union filed an unfair labor practice charge
 alleging that, on or about September 17, 1984, OCALC "refused to bargain
 in good faith by unilaterally changing terms and conditions of
 employment by installing a vapor degreaser in heat treat/plasma spray
 without notice to or bargaining with the Union." (G.C. Exh. 1(a))
 
    Between 1982, when the old degreaser was taken out, and 1984 when the
 new one became operational, the General Foreman of the Heat Treat/Plasma
 Spray Unit had conversations with employees regarding the degreaser.
 (Tr. 179).  "Numerous questions were asked about when it was going to be
 installed, if it was going to be installed, if (the Unit was) going to
 be able to keep it, where it was going to be put, primarily." (Tr. 179)
 All the top journeymen asked questions about it.  (Tr. 179)
 
  Differences Between the Old Detrex Degreaser and the New Cooper
 Degreaser
 
                                 1.  Size
 
    The new Cooper degreaser is "probably about at least three times
 bigger than (the old Detrex degreaser)." (Tr. 62) The old degreaser had
 an opening which measures "probably four feet by three feet." (Tr. 62,
 111) The new degreaser has an opening of 74 inches by 54 inches, or four
 and one-half feet by six feet.  (Tr. 142) The new degreaser handles
 larger parts and more work than the old degreaser.  (Tr. 172, 185) The
 new degreaser also holds more perchloroethylene than the old degreaser.
 (Tr. 185)
 
    If a degreaser is designed properly, a larger opening does not have
 much effect at all on the escape of vapors, because more cooling coils
 are put in to keep the vapors from coming out of the unit.  (Tr. 202) If
 a degreaser is working properly, size alone has no bearing on the
 dangerousness of the degreaser.  (Tr. 203)
 
                               2.  Location
 
    The old degreaser was situated on top of a grating over a pit.  (Tr.
 63, 112) The new degreaser is situated so that five feet of it is sunk
 into the pit.  (Tr. 63, 112) The pit area is covered by a grating and
 "is not ventilated per se," that is, "it doesn't have a solid top over
 it." (Tr. 112, 168, 184) There is no mechanical exhaust ventilation
 provided in the pit.  (Tr. 112)
 
                                 3.  Cover
 
    The old degreaser had a steel cover, which provided a "pretty good
 seal" when it was closed.  (Tr. 111-112) The new degreaser has a canvas
 cover, which is "torn and broken" and cannot be closed.  (Tr. 63) Fumes
 from the new degreaser can be smelled "all over the place." (Tr. 63) The
 seal on the new degreaser is "(n)ot very good." (Tr. 112)
 
                             4.  Manufacturer
 
    The old degreaser was a Detrex VS-800S.  The new degreaser is a
 Cooper.  "It is like a Pontiac and a Ford." (Tr. 169)
 
                              5.  Vapor Fumes
 
    When the old degreaser was closed and not being operated, employees
 could not smell its fumes.  (Tr. 67) When the new degreaser is closed
 and not being operated, some employees can still smell its fumes within
 15 feet of the degreaser.  (Tr. 66-67) Several employees could smell the
 fumes of the old degreaser within only three to 10 feet of the
 degreaser.  (Tr. 65, 113) When the new degreaser is open or being
 operated, several employees can smell its fumes within about 25 to 60
 feet of the degreaser.  (Tr. 66, 114)
 
    Respondent's witness, Jerry Gilbert, smelled fumes in his work area
 (Plasma Spray) when the new degreaser was first installed "as long as
 you didn't keep it covered." (Tr. 249) Now, he cannot tell "any
 difference" between new and old degreasers, "as long as we keep the new
 one covered." (Tr. 249) /5/
 
                           6.  Frequency of Use
 
    One employee in Plasma Spray estimated that she used the old
 degreaser "probably . . . to degrease maybe six parts within two years"
 and other employees used it "probably similar to that, because the
 routine place to have them degreased was in Degrease, which was outside
 (the Plasma Spray) shop".  (Tr. 73) Another employee in that shop, on
 the swing shift, estimated that "somebody in plasma spray might use it
 (the old degreaser) once or twice a night." (Tr. 114) Two employees
 testified that, as far as they knew, no employees outside the Heat
 Treat/Plasma Spray Unit used the old degreaser.  (Tr. 73-74, 111, 114)
 Another employee in that unit testified that "sometime it (the old
 degreaser) was" used by "employees from other units." (Tr. 248) It was
 stipulated that several other witnesses would have testified the same.
 (Tr. 250-251) I find that the old degreaser was used as a backup unit by
 employees outside the Heat Treat/Plasma Spray Unit, but not on a regular
 basis.
 
    The new degreaser has been used as a backup degreaser by employees
 from other units.  Respondent's witness, Jerry Myers, admitted that the
 new degreaser is used as a "backup by some other shops" and has had "an
 excessive amount of parts in there going through it for, say, a week at
 a time sometimes." (Tr. 184) One employee in the Heat Treat/Plasma Spray
 Unit estimated that other shops use the new degreaser "daily." (Tr. 74)
 Another employee testified that the new degreaser is used "(m)ostly by
 people out of other shops" and that he had seen it operated by them for
 "three or four days at a time, maybe four or five different times,"
 because the degreasers in their shops were "inoperable." (Tr. 110) I
 find that the new degreaser is used more frequently than the old
 degreaser as a backup unit by employees from other shops.
 
                              7.  Procedures
 
    When the old degreaser was in place, the procedure for degreasing
 parts was as follows.  If an extremely greasy and oily part came into
 the Plasma Spray Unit, the employees would return it to the Degrease
 Unit and have the Degrease Unit degrease it.  If a part was only
 slightly greasy or it was a rush job, the employees would degrease it
 themselves.  (Tr. 76) A Plasma Unit employee testified that it was "just
 announced" to the employees of the Plasma Spray Unit:  "We have a new
 degreaser now and you can degrease your own parts." (Tr. 77)
 
                              8.  Congestion
 
    The fact that the Cooper degreaser in the Heat Treat/Plasma Spray
 Unit is being used by employees of other units as a backup degreaser
 (Tr. 74, 110) has resulted, "(o)nce in a while," in parts being stacked
 in the aisles around the degreaser, thereby increasing congestion in the
 area.  (Tr. 90-93, 136-138) This makes movement in the aisles difficult
 and requires that employees move the parts to make it possible for them
 to get through the aisles.  (Tr. 92-93, 138-139) There was no problem
 with congestion in the Heat Treat/Plasma Spray Unit with the old
 degreaser.  (Tr. 139)
 
    A witness for Respondent testified that the use of the new degreaser
 by employees in the Paint Shop has not "really" caused congestion
 because by the time "they got over there we (employees in the Heat
 Treat/Plasma Spray Unit) usually have our parts degreased and ready to
 go." (Tr. 245) It was stipulated that two other employees would have
 testified similarly if called.  (Tr. 250-251)
 
    I find that some congestion in the aisles occurs, once in a while,
 when employees from other units use the Cooper degreaser.
 
            9.  Introduction of New Equipment Which Affects the
 
                Operation of the New Degreaser
 
    When the Detrex degreaser was in place, there were no furnaces near
 it.  (Tr. 60) After the old degreaser was removed, an electric forced
 air furnace and a Lindberg vacuum furnace were installed in the Heat
 Treat/Plasma Spray Unit.  (Tr. 61, 118-119, 185-186) The forced air
 furnace is situated to the left of the vapor degreaser.  (Tr. 118)
 
          10.  Structural Changes Have Been Made Which Affect the
 
                Operation of the Degreaser
 
    When the old degreaser was in place, there were more windows in the
 Heat Treat/Plasma Spray Unit.  (Tr. 77-81) At that time, there were
 windows on the south side of the Heat Treat/Plasma Spray Unit.  (Tr.
 79-80, 120-121) There were also windows located on the uest wall.  (Tr.
 119) These windows on the west wall extended from the south side of the
 building to furnace 15.  (Tr. 120-121;  G.C. Exh. 12) After the old
 degreaser was removed, the windows on the south wall were blocked off by
 a new building.  (Tr. 81, 121-122) Also, all of the windows behind
 furnaces 12-15 on the west wall were closed in.  (Tr. 121, G.C. Exh. 12)
 The only remaining windows are two located behind the vapor degreaser.
 (Tr. 81-82, 121) These windows are kept open during the summer.  (Tr.
 82, 122) As they are the only windows left, there is a draft which flows
 over the degreaser.  (Tr. 81, 187) Vapors from a vapor degreasing
 machine can escape because of air currents running across the surface of
 a degreaser.  (Tr. 202) Further, there are plasma spray booths located
 in the Plasma Spray Unit.  These booths have a ventilation system which
 gets its make-up air from inside the unit.  These ventilators take air
 from the Unit pulling the air from the windows behind the degreaser,
 across the degreaser to the top of the booths into the booths.  (Tr. 83)
 
                         11.  Safety and Training
 
    Respondent's witness, Mr. Myers, admitted that only 4 out of 42
 Plasma Spray employees have received training on the use of the new
 degreaser.  Such training is a "new requirement that has been in effect
 since, oh, about three months ago (as of the date of the hearing)." (Tr.
 189-190) The employees of the Plasma Spray Unit have not been issued any
 safety equipment for operating the machine other than gloves.
 
            12.  Effects of the Vapor Degreaser Upon Employees
 
    After smelling the fumes from the new degreaser, some employees
 developed sinus problems, headaches, dizziness, and started coughing and
 sneezing.  (Tr. 85, 108-109) There was no medical evidence that the
 cause of these problems could be attributed to the new degreaser.
 
    Tinker Air Force Base Regulation 161-3, dated April 19, 1982, has
 been in effect for the last three years and describes how to deal with
 "Control of Health Hazards in Vapor Degreasing Operations." (Tr.
 198-199;  R. Exh. 11) The regulation sets forth, inter alia, operational
 procedures including the requirements for protective clothing.  The
 master agreement of the parties also contains articles that include,
 inter alia, provisions for protective clothing and equipment, safety
 training, toxic or flammable vapors, exposure to hazardous conditions,
 notification of dangerous condition, inspections, reporting hazardous
 conditions, physical examinations for employees exposed to potentially
 dangerous or unhealthy conditions, notice to the Union of a dangerous or
 potentially dangerous condition at a work site, hazardous and
 environmental pay, and employee disability compensation.  (R. Exh. 1,
 pp. 107-123)
 
    In November 1984, the parties negotiated over the installation of a
 salt-bath furnace in a building adjacent to Building 3001, after notice
 of the installation was given to the Union.  (Tr. 125, 130, 135) There
 was no evidence that the salt-bath furnace replaced an old one.
 
                        Discussion and Conclusions
 
    The General Counsel contends that Respondent violated 5 U.S.C.
 7116(a)(1) and (5) when, in or about August 1984, it unilaterally
 changed working conditions in the Heat Treat/Plasma Spray Unit of
 Building 3001, by installing a vapor degreaser in that Unit without
 providing prior notice to or bargaining with the Union over the
 procedures to be observed in implementing the proposed change and
 appropriate arrangements for employees adversely affected by
 Respondent's decision to install the degreaser.
 
    5 U.S.C. 7116(a)(5) provides:
 
          (a) For the purposes of this chapter, it shall be an unfair
       labor practice for an agency --
 
                       * * * *
 
 
          (5) to refuse to consult or negotiate in good faith with a
       labor organization as required by this chapter . . . .
 
    5 U.S.C. 7106(b)(2) and (3) provides:
 
          (b) Nothing in this section shall preclude any agency and any
       labor organization from negotiating --
 
                       * * * *
 
 
          (2) procedures which management officials of the agency will
       observe in exercising any authority under this section;  or
 
          (3) appropriate arrangements for employees adversely affected
       by the exercise of any authority under this section by such
       management officials.
 
    In interpreting 5 U.S.C. 7116(a)(5), it has been well established 0y
 the Authority that an agency may not make changes affecting working
 conditions without first notifying the exclusive bargaining
 representative of the affected employees and affording it an opportunity
 to bargain concerning the impact and implementation of such changes.
 Internal Revenue Service, Washington, D.C., 4 FLRA 488 (1980).  It is
 also equally well established that an agency when exercising a reserved
 management right in changing working conditions is not obligated to
 provide notice and bargain impact and implementation of a change unless
 that change has some sort of impact upon employees.  Department of
 Health and Human Services, Social Security Administration, Office of
 Program Operations and Field Operations, Sutter District Office, San
 Francisco, California, 5 FLRA 504 (1981).  "(N)o duty to bargain arises
 from the exercise of a management right that results in an impact or a
 reasonably foreseeable impact on bargaining unit employees which is no
 more than de minimis." Department of Health and Human Services, Social
 Security Administration, Chicago Region, 15 FLRA 922, 924 (1984).
 
    In order to determine whether the exercise of a management right will
 result in a change in working conditions having an impact or reasonably
 foreseeable impact upon bargaining unit employees which is more than de
 minimis, the Authority has looked to the totality of the facts and
 circumstances presented in each case.  Department of Health and Human
 Services, Social Security Administration, Chicago Region (SSA Chicago),
 19 FLRA 827, 829 (1985).
 
    In the SSA Chicago case, the Authority looked at five criteria to
 determine whether the exercise of a reserved management right which
 resulted in a change in working conditions resulted in more than a de
 minimis impact.  Those criteria are as follows:
 
          1.  The nature of the change as it affects or foreseeably
       affects unit employees as individuals or as a whole.
 
          2.  The temporary, recurring, or permanent nature of the
       change.
 
          3.  The number of unit employees affected or foreseeably
       affected by the change.
 
          4.  The size of the bargaining unit.
 
          5.  The extent to which the parties may have established,
       through negotiation or past practice, procedures and appropriate
       arrangements concerning analogous changes in the pact.
 
    A sixth element was noted by former Member McGinnis in a concurring
 opinion, as follows:
 
          6.  When would the implementation of the change involve or
       adversely affect unit employees.
 
    I.  The General Counsel and the Charging Party argue, unsuccessfully,
 that the change here in issue is "analogous to a situation where prior
 to August 1984, Respondent had developed a past practice of not having
 an operational vapor degreaser in the Plasma Spray/Heat Treat Unit." See
 page 17 of the Memorandum to the Administrative Law Judge On Behalf of
 the Counsel for the General Counsel (hereinafter, "G.C. Memo.") and see
 also pages 4-5 of the Post Hearing Brief of the Charging Party.
 
    It is well established that the parties may create terms and
 conditions of employment through consistent actions which evidence a
 tacit or informal agreement to conduct business in a certain manner.
 Thus a "past practice" may become a condition of employment through such
 a tacit or informal agreement.  However, if the General Counsel relies
 on creation of a condition of employment through past practice, the
 burden is on the General Counsel to prove that (1) the practice was
 known to management, (2) responsible management consented or knowingly
 acquiesced in the practice, and (3) the practice continued for an
 extended period of time.  Department of Defense, Department of the Navy,
 Polaris Missile Facility, Charleston, South Carolina, 6 FLRA 372, 379
 (1981).  Regarding the first element, management, as well as the
 employees, knew when the old degreaser was taken away and when the new
 degreaser was put in place.  As to the third element, a considerable
 period of time did pass.  However, the General Counsel failed to prove
 the second element.  Here there is nothing even approaching an implied
 agreement.  A degreaser was provided for in the original plans for the
 Heat Treat/Plasma Spray Unit.  Ever since the Heat Treat/Plasma Spray
 Unit came into existence at its present location in 1969 there has been
 a degreaser.  Shortly after the old degreaser was removed, a new one was
 placed on the shop floor in the same location as the old one.  Employees
 asked about the new degreaser -- when, where and if it would be
 installed.  No union official testified that he or she was led to
 believe that management intended to discontinue having a degreaser in
 the Heat Treat/Plasma Spray Unit.
 
    II.  The General Counsel has established, by a preponderance of the
 evidence, that Respondent did change working conditions when it
 installed a new degreaser, under markedly different circumstances, and
 that the change had a more than de minimis impact upon bargaining unit
 employees.
 
    It was established that the new degreaser was about three times the
 size of the old degreaser and it had a canvas cover rather than a metal
 one.  It was reasonably foreseeable that the new degreaser, able to hold
 more solvent, was capable of producing more fumes of a dangerous nature
 to employees working in close proximity to it.  It was also reasonably
 foreseeable that a canvas cover, unlike a metal one, might become torn
 and broken (as it did) and be less likely to contain escaping fumes.
 
    It was also established that the new degreaser was installed in the
 same area as the old degreaser, but under conditions that made
 reasonably foreseeable that its operation would be more dangerous.  It
 was installed next to a furnace that was not in place when the old
 degreaser occupied the space.  It was installed in an unventilated pit,
 unlike the old degreaser.  It was installed after windows had been shut
 off, thereby creating a draft that was not in existence when the old
 degreaser sat in the same area.  Technical periodicals show dangers in
 installing degreasers under such circumstances. Respondent should have
 reasonably foreseen these added dangers.
 
    The change to a Cooper degreaser, and its location, is permanent and
 was made before any bargaining opportunity was given to the Union.  It
 affects not only the 40 employees who work in the Heat Treat/Plasma
 Spray Unit but also the 300 or 400 who must pass through it during the
 course of their duties.  Employees can smell the fumes from the new
 degreaser from farther distances than they could with the old degreaser.
  Smelling fumes is a threshold indication of a hazardous condition;  and
 management conceded that there were problems, initially, with the new
 degreaser, and that it literally emitted a "stink." /6/ Employees have
 complained of a variety of health problems since the new degreaser
 became operational.
 
    Literature in the field establishes that there can be serious health
 problems with degreasers, particularly those located near electric
 furnaces, and placed in pits and in drafts, the situation here involved.
  A change which has the potential of creating serious health hazards for
 this many employees out of a bargaining unit of 16,000 cannot be
 regarded as de minimis in nature.  While there is no proof that the
 parties have ever before negotiated the replacement of one piece of
 machinery with another, /7/ the parties have negotiated general health
 and safety provisions in their master agreement.
 
    The General Counsel and the Charging Party also rely upon evidence
 that the use of the degreaser has changed.  Respondent argues that a
 change in use does not come within the confines of this complaint, which
 alleges only that the change was one "involving the installation of a
 vapor degreaser." See count 8 of G.C. Exh. 1(d).  The installation
 occurred in or around the late summer or early Fall of 1984.  Some of
 the changes in use had recently occurred as of the date of the hearing,
 on September 23, 1985, namely that training on use of the new degreaser
 was to be given to all employees (Tr. 189-190) and that all employees in
 the Heat Treat/Plasma Spray Unit must use the degreaser.  (Tr. 102)
 There was also evidence of congestion now occurring in the aisles of the
 Heat Treat/Plasma Spray Unit because employees from other shops are
 using the new degreaser more than they had used the old degreaser.
 Arguably, Respondent may be correct that this change in use should be
 the subject of a separate charge and is not encompassed in this
 proceeding.  In any event, I have not considered changes in use in
 arriving at the above conclusions.
 
    Respondent argues that it is relieved from an "additional bargaining
 obligation as to health and safety issues" because such issues are
 "fully negotiable under Tinker AFB Regulation 161-3 (R. Exh. 11) and
 Article 25 of the collective bargaining agreement" (R. Exh. 1, pp.
 107-117).  See page 12 of Respondent's Post-Hearing Brief.  Respondent
 does not indicate, and the record does not show that Regulation 161-3 is
 a binding agreement between Respondent and the Union.  It is entitled
 "Control of Health Hazards in Vapor Degreasing Operations" and defines
 individual and organizational responsibilities, in some detail.  It is
 dated April 19, 1982, before the Detrex degreaser was replaced by the
 Cooper one now in place.  Thus, I can find no bargaining obligation
 fixed by this regulation or waiver by the Union of a bargaining
 obligation when Respondent chose to replace a Detrex degreaser with one
 built by Cooper, with a less-effective cover for containing dangerous
 fumes, and then chose to install the Cooper under permanent conditions
 which made it potentially more dangerous, i.e., in an unventilated pit,
 next to an electric furnace;  and in a draft.
 
    Article 25 of the master agreement, signed on June 1, 1982, before
 Respondent installed the Cooper degreaser, deals in generalities on the
 subject of health and safety.  I cannot conclude that this article
 constitutes a waiver by the Union of its bargaining rights either.  We
 do not know what proposals the Union might make as to the Cooper
 degreaser, since Respondent never accorded to it the opportunity to make
 any.  According to the Post Hearing Brief of the Charging Party, at page
 6, the proposals will relate to "the safety and health of the
 employees." It is likely that they will be very specific in nature,
 e.g., proposing to replace the torn and broken canvas cover on the
 Cooper degreaser with a better one.  There is nothing specific in the
 master agreement about the type of cover for a degreaser.  Ergo, I
 cannot conclude that the Union waived its bargaining rights as to such a
 proposal by agreeing to the generalities in Article 25 of the master
 agreement.
 
    None of the cases cited by Respondent are to the contrary.  My
 decision in Department of Defense, Department of the Air Force, Langley
 Air Force Base, Virginia, (Langley AFB), Case No. 4-CA-30557, OALJ
 85-027 (1984) did not involve a change in working conditions initiated
 by the agency, as here;  it involved a refusal to bargain over
 union-initiated proposals which I found would have operated to change
 the parties' collective bargaining agreement.  Two Authority decisions
 cited by Respondent (Department of Justice, Immigration and
 Naturalization Service, ("INS"), 17 FLRA 227, 234 (1985) and Naval
 Amphibious Base, Little Creek, Norfolk, Virginia, ("NAB"), 9 FLRA 774,
 777-778 (1982)) involved very specific provisions negotiated by the
 parties in their collective bargaining agreements -- in INS, the use of
 a specific form;  in NAB a specific procedure for effectuating
 non-discriplinary adverse actions.  A third Authority case cited by
 Respondent, Department of the Navy, Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Vallejo,
 California, 9 FLRA 784 (1982) was decided on the basis that there had
 been no change in conditions of employment;  and the Authority
 explicitly declined to adopt "the Judge's interpretation of the parties'
 agreement." Id. at 785.  A fourth Authority case cited by Respondent, at
 page 6 of its Reply to General Counsel's Post-Hearing Brief, U.S. Army
 Reserve Components Personnel and Administration Center, St. Louis,
 Missouri, 20 FLRA 117 (1985) involved some "minor in nature" changes
 caused by a relocation of unit employees into offices on the same floor
 of the same building.  Id. at 120.  As to these "minor in nature"
 changes, none of which had a potential for endangering the health and
 safety of the relocated employees, the Authority did state that they are
 "more applicable to resolution through the negotiated grievance
 procedure." Ibid.  The decision does not reveal what provisions there
 were in the parties' collective bargaining agreement which related to
 office relocations.  Thus, its applicability to the case at issue here
 is uncertain, at best.
 
    III.  Respondent does not contest the record evidence that it gave no
 formal notice to the Union or an opportunity to bargain over the
 installation of the new degreaser.  Clearly, it did not.  See, e.g.,
 Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, 19 FLRA
 1103, 1106 (1985) to the effect that a union's "designated agent" must
 be given notice concerning changes in working conditions.  See fn. 7,
 id. at 1106.
 
    Respondent does argue that employees in the Heat Treat/Plasma Spray
 Unit were aware of its decision to replace the old degreaser well over
 six months prior to the charge, which was filed on October 3, 1984, and
 therefore, that the charge was untimely filed.  /8/ See pages 15-16 of
 Respondent's Post-Hearing Brief and page 7 of its Reply to General
 Counsel's Post-Hearing Brief.  Knowledge to employees does not equate to
 knowledge of the Union's designated agents, however, when changes in
 working conditions are made.  And, in any event, employees were not sure
 that the new degreaser was going to be installed until late August or
 early Fall of 1984.  Thus, the filing of the charge on October 3 was
 timely, even under Respondent's argument.
 
    Respondent cites only one Authority case in support of its argument,
 United States Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, and
 United States Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service,
 Houston District, 20 FLRA 51 (1985), in which the agency had announced
 its policy prohibiting the wearing of jeans at open meetings on November
 15, 1982, to which union representatives had been invited, and the union
 asserted that it first learned of the policy on May 5, 1983.  The policy
 was implemented on November 15, 1982, and consistently followed.  Prior
 to the November 15 date, management met with the union regarding the
 contemplated dress code.  Id. at 67.  The Authority ruled that, under 5
 U.S.C. 7118(A), the charge should have been filed within six six months
 of the November 15, 1982, meetings.  Instead, it was filed on July 5,
 1983.  /9/ The facts of the instant case make it distinguishable from
 this cited case.
 
    IV.  As a remedy, the General Counsel seeks an order that Respondent
 "be required to post a notice, be ordered to negotiate the procedures to
 be observed in implementing the degreaser and impact upon adversely
 affected employees at the request of the Union, and remove the Cooper
 vapor degreaser that is currently located in the Plasma Spray/Heat Treat
 Unit." See G.C. Memo. 31.
 
    The posting of a notice and an order to bargain are appropriate and
 will be recommended.  An order removing the degreaser presents a more
 difficult question, to be resolved in the light of criteria established
 in Federal Correctional Institution, 8 FLRA 604, 606 (1982).  Balancing
 the nature and circumstances of a particular violation against the
 degree of disruption in government that would be caused by a status quo
 ante remedy, in the Federal Correctional Institution case, the Authority
 annunciated several factors to consider in determining whether a status
 quo ante remedy would be appropriate.  These factors include whether
 notice was given to the union by the agency concerning the change;
 whether the union requested impact and implementatioh bargaining;  the
 willfulness of the agency's conduct in failing to discharge its
 bargaining obligations under the Statute;  the nature and extent of the
 impact experienced by adversely affected employees;  and whether, and to
 what degree, a status quo ante remedy would disrupt or impair the
 efficiency and effectiveness of the agency's operations.
 
    In the instant case, notice was never provided to the Union.  The
 Union requested bargaining, on September 20, 1984, shortly after
 becoming auare that "many new changes" were expected in the Heat
 Treat/Plasma Spray Unit and that the installation of the new degreaser
 might be one.  See Tr. 39 and 56 and G.C. Exh. 2.  The conduct of the
 agency was willful;  it apparently never responded to the Union's
 request to bargain and takes the position that it had no obligation to
 bargain.  The impact upon adversely affected employees can potentially
 be severe, in terms of short and long-range health problems.
 
    The really troublesome issue is whether removing the degreaser would
 disrupt or impair the efficiency and effectiveness of agency operations.
  Since the agency has an entire unit devoted to degreasing operations
 and went for almost two years without one in the unit here involved, it
 would be difficult to conclude that removing the degreaser would
 interfere too seriously with operations.  At page 9 of its Post Hearing
 Brief, the Charging Party urges "stopping use of the degreaser," not
 outright removal.  At the hearing, Counsel for the General Counsel asked
 only that the Cooper degreaser "be shut down." (Tr. 223) This seems to
 be a more practical solution;  and it will be recommended, along with an
 order that the solvent be removed from the degreaser while it stands
 idle, pending the outcome of negotiations.  This should adequately
 protect the health of employees whose duties bring them into the
 vicinity of the degreaser.
 
    Having found that Respondent violated 5 U.S.C. 7116(a)(1) and (5), as
 alleged, it is recommended that the Authority issue the following Order:
 
                                   ORDER
 
    Pursuant to 5 C.F.R. 2423.29 and 5 U.S.C. 7118, the Authority hereby
 orders that Respondent shall:
 
    1.  Cease and desist from:
 
          (a) Changing working conditions involving the installation of a
       vapor degreaser in the Heat Treat/Plasma Spray Unit in Building
       3001 at Tinker Air Force Base, without prior notice to and, upon
       request, bargaining with the employees' exclusive representative,
       the American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, Local
       916, concerning procedures to be observed in implementing such
       change and appropriate arrangements for adversely affected
       employees.
 
          (b) From using the vapor degreaser in the Heat Treat/Plasma
       Spray Unit in Building 3001 at Tinker Air Force Base, pending the
       outcome of any requested negotiations over its installation with
       Local 916.
 
          (c) In any like or related manner, interfering with,
       restraining, or coercing employees in the exercise of rights
       assured by the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute.
 
    2.  Take the following affirmative action in order to carry out the
 purposes and policies of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations
 Statute:
 
          (a) Remove the solvent from the degreaser in the Heat
       Treat/Plasma Spray Unit in Building 3001 at Tinker Air Force Base
       pending the outcome of any requested negotiations over its
       installation.
 
          (b) Upon request, meet and bargain with Local 916, to the
       extent consonant with law and regulations, concerning the
       installation of the vapor degreaser in the Heat Treat/Plasma Spray
       Unit in Building 3001 at Tinker Air Force Base.
 
          (c) Post in the Heat Treat/Plasma Spray Unit in Building 3001,
       at Tinker Air Force Base, 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 the Commanding
       Officer of Tinker Air Force Base, or his or her designee, and
       shall be posted and maintained for 60 consecutive days thereafter
       in conspicuous places, including all bulletin boards and other
       places where notices are customarily posted.  Reasonable steps
       shall be taken to insure that said notices are not altered,
       defaced or covered by any other material.
 
          (d) 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 herewith.
 
                                       /s/ LOUIS SCALZO
                                       Administrative Law Judge
 
    Dated:  April 23, 1986
    Washington, D.C.
 
 
 
 
 
 
                ---------------  FOOTNOTES$ ---------------
 
 
 
    (1) Chairman Calhoun concurs in part and dissents in part for the
 reasons stated in his separate opinion.
 
    (2) Handbook of Vapor Degreasing by the American Society for Testing
 and Materials (used by the Respondent as an Operator's Manual);
 Recognition of Health Hazards in Industry by William A. Burgess;  and
 Modern Vapor Degreasing and Dow Chlorinated Solvents by Dow Chemical
 Company.
 
    (3) "G.C. Exh." refers to the exhibits of the General Counsel.  Other
 abbreviations to be used herein are as follows.  "R. Exh." refers to the
 exhibits of Respondent.  "Tr." refers to the transcript.
 
    The complaint alleges violations by the United States Department of
 Defense, Department of the Air Force, Air Force Logistics Command,
 Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center, and Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma
 and refers to them, jointly, as "Respondent." They are so referenced in
 this decision.  The complaint also names the Air Force Logistics
 Command, Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center, and Tinker Air Force Base,
 separately.
 
    (4) The PEL stated in milligrams per cubic meter is 335 (Tr. 234).
 
    (5) Three witnesses who work in the Heat Treat/Plasma Spray Unit
 testified as to the fumes.  (Tr. 57, 106, 242) I find the variations in
 their testimony to be based upon variations in their olfactory
 perceptions.
 
    (6) Respondent relies on tests which show that the new degreaser,
 now, emits less fumes than the old one or others available at the
 facility.  Even assuming, arguendo, the reliability of these tests, the
 fact remains that employees in the Heat Treat/Plasma Spray Unit were
 initially subjected to fumes which are indicative of a hazardous working
 condition.
 
    (7) The General Counsel proved that negotiations took place over the
 introduction of a salt bath furnace in an area adjacent to the Heat
 Treat/Plasma Spray Unit.  (Tr. 125-126) It was not established that this
 was a case of one piece of machinery replacing another, as here.
 
    (8) 5 U.S.C. 7118(a) provides, in pertinent part, that
 
          (4)(A) Except as provided in subparagraph (B) of this
       paragraph, no complaint shall be issued based on any alleged
       unfair labor practice which occurred more than 6 months before the
       filing of the charge with the Authority.
 
          (B) If the General Counsel determines that the person filing
       any charge was prevented from filing the charge during the 6-month
       period referred to in subparagraph (A) of this paragraph by reason
       of --
 
          (i) any failure of the agency or labor organization against
       which the charge is made to perform a duty owed to the person, or
 
          (ii) any concealment which prevented discovery of the alleged
       unfair labor practice during the 6-month period,
 
          the General Counsel may issue a complaint based on the charge
       if the charge was filed during the 6-month period beginning on the
       day of the discovery by the person of the alleged unfair labor
       practice.
 
    (9) Respondent also relies on a case arising under the National Labor
 Relations Act, U.S. Postal Service, 271 NLRB No. 61, 116 LRRM 1417
 (1984), which held that the period to file an unfair labor practice
 began to run when the employee was informed of an adverse action to be
 taken against her, and that the employee's appeal to the Merit Systems
 Protection Board did not toll the time to file.  This is quite a
 different situation from the one here involved.
 
 
 
 
 
                                APPENDIX
 
                          NOTICE 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 STATUTE
 
                   WE HEREBY NOTIFY OUR EMPLOYEES THAT:
 
    WE WILL NOT change working conditions involving the installation of a
 vapor degreaser in the Heat Treat/Plasma Spray Unit in Building 3001
 without prior notice to and, upon request, bargaining with the
 employees' exclusive representative, American Federation of Government
 Employees, AFL-CIO, Local 916 concerning the procedures to be observed
 in implementing any proposed changes and appropriate arrangements for
 adversely affected employees.
 
    WE WILL NOT in any like or related manner, interfere with, restrain,
 or coerce employees in the exercise of their rights assured by the
 Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute.
 
    WE WILL remove the solvent from the vapor degreaser in the Heat
 Treat/Plasma Spray Unit in Building 3001 and refrain from using the
 degreaser, pending the outcome of any requested negotiations with Local
 916 over its installation.