27:0460(66)NG - NTEU and IRS -- 1987 FLRAdec NG
[ v27 p460 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:
27 FLRA No. 66 NATIONAL TREASURY EMPLOYEES UNION Union and INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE Agency Case No. 0-NG-1262 DECISION AND ORDER ON NEGOTIABILITY ISSUES I. Statement of the Case This case is before the Authority because of a negotiability appeal filed under section 7105(a)(2)(E) of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (the Statute) and concerns the negotiability of the following two proposals: II. Proposals Proposal 1 Employees shall "register" a pseudonym with their supervisors. Employees shall only use the name registered with their supervisors. Proposal 2 A. Employees shall only be required to identify themselves by last name, e.g., Mr. Jones, Ms. Smith. B. If an employee believes that due to the unique nature of the employee's last name, and/or nature of the office locale, that use of the last name will still identify the employee, then the employee may "register" a pseudonym with the employee's supervisor. In that case, only the registered pseudonym will be used. A. Procedural Issues The Agency contends that it has no duty to bargain over the Union's proposals because there has been no change in Agency policy or practice regarding the use of pseudonyms. The Agency further asserts that is had no obligation to bargain over proposals initiated by the Union during the term of the collective bargaining agreement which are unrelated to Agency-initiated changes in conditions of employment. These contentions do not preclude our consideration of the negotiability appeal in this case. Under section 7117(c) of the Statute, a union is entitled to a decision by the Authority as to whether a proposal is negotiable under the Statute despite the existence of other issues in the case. American Federation of Government Employees, Local 2736 v. FLRA, 715 F.2d 627, 631 (D.C. Cir. 1983). Further, to the extent that there are issues regarding the duty to bargain in the specific circumstances of this case -- such as whether there is an obligation to bargain over proposals initiated by the Union during the term of the parties' agreement which are unrelated to Agency-initiated changes in conditions of employment -- these issues should be resolved in other appropriate proceedings. See American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, Local 2736 and Department of the Air Force, Headquarters, 379th Combat Support Group (SAC), Wurtsmith Air Force Base, Michigan, 14 FLRA 302 at 306 n.6 (1984). The claimed existence of issues concerning the duty to bargain does not preclude us from determining whether the proposals in this case are negotiable under section 7105(a)(2)(E) and section 7117(c) of the Statute. B. Positions of the Parties The Agency contends that these proposals conflict with its right to determine the "methods and means" of performing work under section 7106(b)(1) of the Statute. The Agency also contends that the proposals are not appropriate arrangements within the meaning of section 7106(b)(3) of the Statute under the test set forth in National Association of Government Employees, Local R14-87 and Kansas Army National Guard, 21 FLRA No. 4 (1986). The Agency asserts that (1) the proposals excessively interfere with management's right to determine the methods and means of conducting its work; and (2) there are no adverse effects flowing from management's requirement that employees use their own names when dealing with the public. The Union disputes the Agency's contentions as to methods and means, relying on American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, National Immigration and Naturalization Service Council and U.S. Department of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service, 8 FLRA 347 (1982) (Proposal 2), reversed as to other matters sub nom. U.S. Department of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service v. FLRA, 709 F.2d 724 (D.C. Cir. 1983) and National Treasury Employees Union and U.S. Customs Service, Region VIII, San Francisco, California, 2 FLRA 254 (1979). The Union also argues that under the Authority's decision in Kansas Army National Guard, these proposals do not "excessively interfere" with the exercise of management's rights and therefore constitute negotiable appropriate arrangements within the meaning of section 7106(b)(3). Further, the Union asserts that the intent of its proposals is to avoid harassment and abuse of the employees' privacy. III. Analysis and Conclusions The Agency states that its mission is to "collect the proper amount of tax revenues at the least cost to the public and in a manner that warrants the highest degree of public confidence in our integrity, efficiency, and fairness." Agency's Statement of Position at 5. In this connection, the Agency has determined that as part of the "methods and means" of performing the Agency's work, employees must identify themselves by verbal or other means when dealing with the public. The question therefore is whether the proposals directly interfere with the Agency's right to determine the "methods and means" -- the requirement that employees be identifiable to the public -- by which the Agency performs its work. See American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, National Immigration and Naturalization Service Council and U.S. Department of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service, 8 FLRA 347 (1982) (the use of nameplates for purposes of employee identification constitutes a "means" of performing work). See also National Treasury Employees Union and U.S. Customs Service, Region VIII, San Francisco, California, 2 FLRA 254 (1979). The proposals in dispute permit employees to use pseudonyms when they perform duties involving contact with the public. Proposal 1 allows employees to use pseudonyms, as long as the pseudonym is registered with their supervisor. Proposal 2 allows employees to identify themselves only by their last name, or by a registered pseudonym if they can be easily identified by their last name. We find that the proposals do not interfere with the Agency's determination that employees must be identifiable when they deal with the public. The Agency asserts that effective mission performance requires that employees use their own names so that the Agency can monitor and respond to public complaints. However, the use of pseudonyms registered with management does not detract from the Agency's ability to monitor and respond to complaints. By referring to the list of registered pseudonyms, the Agency would be able to identify an employee against whom a complaint is made and to take action accordingly. This case is similar to Immigration and Naturalization Service. In Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Authority found that a portion of the proposal in dispute was negotiable because the agency had not shown that the objectives to be achieved by using identification badges as a means of performing work could only be achieved by requiring those badges to display employees' names rather than identifying numbers. See also Customs Service (agency did not show that its objective in requiring nameplates as a means of performing work could only be achieved by requiring that employees' names be displayed rather than pseudonyms; proposal providing for use of pseudonyms therefore held negotiable). Similarly, the Agency in this case has not shown, and it is not otherwise apparent from the record, that its mission -- collecting taxes in a manner that warrants the highest degree of public confidence in the integrity, efficiency, and fairness of the Agency -- can be achieved only by requiring employees to use their own full names and not pseudonyms or last names only in order to identify themselves when performing job-related duties requiring contact with the public. Accordingly, we find, for the reasons cited in Immigration and Naturalization Service, that Proposals 1 and 2 are likewise within the Agency's duty to bargain. In view of our finding, we do not need to address the parties' contentions as to whether or not the proposals constitute appropriate arrangements under section 7106(b)(3) of the Statute. IV. Order The Agency must upon request, or as otherwise agreed to by the parties, bargain concerning Proposals 1 and 2. /*/ Issued, Washington, D.C., June 18, 1987. /s/ Jerry L. Calhoun, Chairman /s/ Henry B. Frazier III, Member /s/ Jean McKee, Member FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY --------------- FOOTNOTES$ --------------- (*) In deciding that Proposals 1 and 2 are within the duty to bargain, we make no judgment as to their merits.