29:0055(6)CA - VA, Washington, DC and VA Medical Center, VA New Orleans, LA and AFGE Local 3553 -- 1987 FLRAdec CA



[ v29 p55 ]
29:0055(6)CA
The decision of the Authority follows:


29 FLRA No. 6

VETERANS ADMINISTRATION
WASHINGTON, D.C. AND
VETERANS ADMINISTRATION MEDICAL
CENTER, VETERANS ADMINISTRATION
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA

              Respondent

      and

AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT
EMPLOYEES, LOCAL 3553, AFL-CIO

              Charging Party

Case No. 6-CA-70146

DECISION AND ORDER

I. Statement of the Case

This unfair labor practice case is before the Authority pursuant to section 2429.1(a) of the Authority's Rules and Regulations, based upon a stipulation entered into by the Respondent, the Charging Party (the Union) and the General Counsel. The complaint alleged that the Veterans Administration Medical Center, Veterans Administration, New Orleans, Louisiana (Respondent Activity) violated section 7116(a)(1), (5) and (8) of the Federal Service Labor - Management Relations Statute (the Statute) by refusing to provide the Union, the exclusive representative of a unit of the Respondent's employees, with the names and home addresses of those employees as requested by the Union. The complaint further alleged that the Veterans Administration, Washington, D.C. (Respondent Agency) violated section 7116(a)(1) and (5) of the Statute by unlawfully interfering with the bargaining relationship between the Respondent Activity and the Union by instructing the Respondent Activity not to furnish the Union with the requested information. We find that the Respondent Activity did not violate the Statute as alleged and that the Respondent Agency violated section 7116(a)(1), (5) and (8) by its conduct in the case.

II. Facts

The American Federation of Government Employees, AFL - CIO (AFGE) is the exclusive representative of a [PAGE] nationwide unit of the Respondent's non-professional employees. AFGE Local 3553, the Union in this case, is the agent of AFGE for the purpose of representing employees at the Veterans Administration Medical Center, New Orleans, Louisiana. On November 21, 1986, the Union requested that the Respondent Activity provide it with the names and home addresses of the unit employees. On December 2, 1986, the Respondent Activity denied the request based on instructions from the Respondent Agency not to furnish the requested information to the Union. The parties stipulated that the Respondent maintains a computerized listing of bargaining unit employees and their home addresses and, additionally, that the information is maintained in the employees' official personnel folders at the Respondent Activity's location.

III. Positions of the Parties

The Respondent essentially contends that disclosure of the home addresses of employees is prohibited by the Privacy Act; the information is not necessary for the Union to carry out its representational responsibilities under the Statute in view of the reasonable alternative means available to the union for communicating with the employees; and the information is not data pertaining to negotiation of subjects within the scope of bargaining under the Statute. The Respondent also disagrees with 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), and asserts that the Authority erred in that decision. In summary, the Respondent maintains that the Union does not have a right to the information requested under section 7114(b)(4) of the Statute.

The General Counsel contends that the Authority's Decision on Remand in Farmers Home is controlling in this case and that the Respondent Activity was required, upon request, to supply the Union with the names and home addresses of its bargaining unit employees under section 7114(b)(4). The General Counsel points out that in refusing to provide the Union with the requested information the Activity was acting ministerially at the direction of the Agency and had no discretion in the matter. Nevertheless, the General Counsel argues that the Respondent Activity violated section 7116(a)(1), (5) and (8) of the Statute. [ v29 p2 ]

Further, the General Counsel contends that by instructing the Activity not to provide the union with the information, the Respondent Agency interfered with the bargaining relationship between the Union and the Activity and thereby violated section 7116(a)(1) and (5) of the Statute. The General Counsel also contends that the Respondent Agency is responsible for the Respondent Activity's refusal to comply with section 7114(b)(4) and for the resulting violation of section 7116(a)(1), (5) and (8) of the Statute.

IV. Analysis and Conclusion

Based on the parties' stipulation, we find that the names and home addresses of the employees are normally maintained by the Respondent Agency and the Respondent Activity in the regular course of business and are reasonably available. Additionally, we find that the information sought does not constitute guidance, advice, counsel or training provided for management officials or supervisors relating to collective bargaining.

Moreover, in our Decision and Order on Remand in Farmers Home, we concluded that the release of names and home addresses of bargaining unit employees to the exclusive representatives of those employees is not prohibited by law, is necessary for unions to fulfill their duties under the Statute, and meets all of the other requirements established by section 7114(b)(4). We also determined that the release of the information is generally required without regard to whether alternative means of communication are available.

Accordingly, based on our Decision on Remand in Farmers Home, we reject the Respondent's assertions in this case. We find that the Respondent was required to provide the Union with the names and home addresses of the bargaining unit employees under section 7114(b)(4).

With regard to the culpability of the Activity and the Agency in failing and refusing to comply with section 7114(b)(4), we find that the Activity was prevented by the Agency from fulfilling its obligation under the Statute. The Agency instructed the Activity not to furnish the requested information to the Union. Therefore, as the General Counsel points out, the Activity was acting ministerially and without discretion in the matter. In these circumstances, we will not find that the Activity violated section 7116(a)(1), (5) and (8) of the Statute as alleged in the complaint. See, for example, United States Department of the Treasury, Internal [ v29 p3 ] Revenue Service, and Internal Revenue Service, Austin District, and Internal Revenue Service, Houston District, 23 FLRA No. 100 (1986), slip op. at 6-7.

As to the Agency's conduct, it is well-established that the conduct of higher level agency management may constitute an unfair labor practice where such conduct prevents lower level management from fulfilling an obligation under the Statute. See, for example, Department of the Interior, Water and Power Resources Service, Grand Coulee Project, Grand Coulee, Washington and Office of the Secretary, Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C., 9 FLRA 385, 388 (1982). In this case, by directing the Activity not to pro-vide the Union with the requested information, the Respondent Agency improperly prevented the Activity from complying with section 7114(b)(4) of the Statute and improperly interfered with the local bargaining relationship between the Union and the Activity. We conclude that the Agency was responsible for the failure and refusal to comply with section 7114(b)(4) and that it thereby violated section 7114(a)(1), (5) and (8) of the Statute. Moreover, by improperly interfering with the local bargaining relationship between the Union and the Activity, the Respondent further violated section 7116(a)(1) and (5).

ORDER

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. shall:

1. Cease and desist from:

(a) Directing the Veterans Administration Medical Center, New Orleans, Louisiana, to refuse to furnish, upon request of the American Federation of Government Employees, Local 3553, AFL - CIO, the designated agent of the exclusive representative of a bargaining unit of its employees, the names and home addresses of employees in the unit.

(b) In any like or related manner, interfering with, restraining, or coercing its employees in the exercise of the rights assured them by the Statute.

(c) In any like or related manner, interfering with the local bargaining relationship between the American Federation of Government Employees, Local 3553, AFL - CIO and the Veterans Administration Medical Center, New Orleans, Louisiana. [ v29 p4 ]

2. Take the following affirmative action in order to effectuate the purposes and policies of the Statute:

(a) Direct the Veterans Administration Medical Center, New Orleans, Louisiana to furnish the American Federation of Government Employees, Local 3553, AFL - CIO, the designated agent of the exclusive representative of a bargaining unit of its employees, the requested names and home addresses of employees in the unit.

(b) Post at its facility, Veterans Administration Medical Center, New Orleans, Louisiana, 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 Administrator of the Veterans Administration, Washington, D.C., and shall be posted and maintained for 60 consecutive days thereafter, in conspicuous places, including all bulletin boards and 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 2423.30 of the Authority's Rules and Regulations, notify the Regional Director, Region VI, Federal Labor Relations Authority, in writing, within 30 days from the date of this Order as to what steps have been taken to comply.

It is further ordered that the allegations in the complaint against the Veterans Administration Medical Center, New Orleans, Louisiana, are dismissed.

Issued, Washington, D.C., September 25, 1987.

Jerry L. Calhoun, Chairman

Henry B. Frazier III, Member

Jean McKee, Member

FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY [ v29 p5 ]

                     NOTICE TO ALL EMPLOYEES
     AS ORDERED BY THE FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY
             AND TO EFFECTUATE THE POLICIES OF THE
      FEDERAL SERVICE LABOR-MANAGEMENT RELATIONS STATUTE
                 WE NOTIFY OUR EMPLOYEES THAT:

WE WILL NOT direct the Veterans Administration Medical Center, New Orleans, Louisiana to refuse to furnish, upon request of the American Federation of Government Employees, Local 3553, AFL - CIO, the designated agent of the exclusive representative of a bargaining unit of our employees, the names and home addresses of employees in the unit.

WE WILL NOT in any like or related manner, interfere with, restrain, or coerce our employees in the exercise of the rights assured them by the Federal Service Labor-management Relations Statute.

WE WILL NOT in any like or related manner, interfere with the local bargaining relationship between the American Federation of Government Employees, Local 3553, AFL - CIO and the Veterans Administration Medical Center, New Orleans, Louisiana.

WE WILL direct the Veterans Administration Medical Center, New Orleans, Louisiana to furnish the American Federation of Government Employees, Local 3553, AFL - CIO, the requested names and home addresses of employees in the bargaining unit.