28:0659(84)CA - VA, Washington, DC and VA Medical Center, Houston, TX and AFGE Local 1633 -- 1987 FLRAdec CA
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The decision of the Authority follows:
28 FLRA No. 84 VETERANS ADMINISTRATION, WASHINGTON, D.C., AND VETERANS ADMINISTRATION MEDICAL CENTER, HOUSTON, TEXAS Respondent and AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, LOCAL 1633 Charging Party Case No. 6-CA-70087
I. Statement of the Case
This matter is before the Authority under section 2429.1(a) of our Regulations based on the parties' stipulation of facts. The complaint alleges that the Respondent violated section 7116(a)(1), (5), and (8) of the Federal Service Labor - Management Relations Statute (the Statute) by refusing to provide the Charging Party with the names and home addresses of bargaining unit employees. The Respondent and the General Counsel filed briefs. For the reasons stated below, we find that the Respondent has committed the unfair labor practices as alleged.
The American Federation of Government Employees, AFL - CIO (AFGE) is the exclusive representative of a consolidated unit which includes, among other units, a unit of eligible nonprofessional employees at the Veterans Administration Medical Center, Houston, Texas. Local 1633 (the Union) acts as AFGE's agent with respect to the employees. By letter dated November 17, 1986, the Union requested the names and home addresses of all bargaining unit employees, which, by letter dated December 5, 1986, the Respondent declined to provide. The parties have stipulated that the Respondent maintains a computerized listing of all unit employees and their home addresses at its data processing center in Austin, Texas. [PAGE]
The information requested is maintained in the official personnel files at the Medical Center, and each supervisor maintains files on unit employees containing the requested information.
III. Positions of the Parties
A. The Respondent
The Respondent contends that disclosure of the information requested is prohibited by law. Additionally, the Respondent argues that the information is not relevant and necessary to the Union's representational duties and that there are alternative means to communicate with the employees. The Respondent further asserts that such disclosure would violate the employees' right to privacy as protected in the parties' master agreement.
B. The General Counsel
The General Counsel argues that this case is controlled by the Authority's decision on remand in Farmers Home Administration Finance Office, St. Louis, Missouri, 23 FLRA No. 101 (1986) (Farmers Home), petition for review filed sub nom. U.S. Department of Agriculture and Farmers Home Administration Finance Office, St. Louis, Missouri v. FLRA, No. 86-2579 (8th Cir. Dec. 23, 1986). The General Counsel submits that the Respondent's refusal to provide the names and home addresses of bargaining unit employees violates section 7114(b)(4) of the Statute and constitutes the unfair labor practices alleged in the complaint.
IV. Analysis and Conclusions
In our decision on remand in Farmers Home, we held that the release of the names and home addresses of bargaining unit employees to exclusive representatives is not prohibited by law, is necessary for unions to fulfill their duties under the Statute, and meets all of the other requirements of section 7114(b)(4) of the Statute. Our decision in Farmers Home analyzed the two exceptions to the Privacy Act's bar to disclosure of personal information pertinent to the release of employees' names and home addresses: exception (b)(2), concerning the Freedom of Information Act, and exception (b)(3), relating to "routine use" of information. We found that both exceptions to the Privacy Act's bar applied so as to authorize release of the information under the Privacy Act. We also determined that the release of the information is generally required without regard to whether alternative means of communication are available. [ v28 p2 ]
Consistent with our decision in Farmers Home, we therefore find that the Respondent was required to furnish the Union with the names and home addresses of the employees in the bargaining unit and its refusal to do so violated section 7116(a)(1), (5), and (8) of the Statute. In so finding, we conclude that the Respondent fails to establish that the parties' master agreement prohibits release of the names and home addresses of the bargaining unit employees or that the agreement constitutes a clear and unmistakable waiver of the exclusive representative's statutory right to the information. See, for example, Veterans Administration, Washington, D.C. and Veterans Administration Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, 26 FLRA No. 86 (1987) (and the case cited in the decision).
Pursuant to section 2423.29 of the Authority's Rules and Regulations and section 7118 of the Federal Service Labor - Management Relations Statute, the Veterans Administration, Washington, D.C., and Veterans Administration Medical Center, Houston, Texas, shall:
1. Cease and desist from:
(a) Refusing to furnish, upon request of the American Federation of Government Employees, Local 1633, the agent for the exclusive representative of a unit of its employees, the names and home addresses of all unit employees located at the Veterans Administration Medical Center, Houston, Texas.
(b) In any like or related manner, interfering with, restraining, or coercing its employees in the exercise of the rights assured by the Statute.
2. Take the following affirmative action in order to effectuate the purposes and policies of the Statute:
(a) Furnish the American Federation of Government Employees, Local 1633, the agent for the exclusive representative of a unit of its employees, with the names and home addresses of all unit employees located at the Veterans Administration Medical Center, Houston, Texas.
(b) Post at the Veterans Administration Medical Center, Houston, Texas, 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 Director of the Veterans Administration Medical [ v28 p3 ] Center, Houston, Texas, and shall be posted and maintained for 60 consecutive days thereafter, in conspicuous places, including all bulletin boards and other places where notices to employees are customarily posted. Reasonable steps shall be taken to ensure that such notices are not altered, defaced, or covered by any other material.
(c) Pursuant to section 2424.30 of the Authority's Rules and Regulations, notify the Regional Director,