27:0460(66)NG - NTEU and IRS -- 1987 FLRAdec NG



[ v27 p460 ]
27:0460(66)NG
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 Immigrat