34:0067(15)RO - - DOI, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Rosebud, SD and NFFE, Council of Consolidated Bureau of Indian Affairs - - 1989 FLRAdec RP - - v34 p67
[ v34 p67 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:
34 FLRA No. 15
FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR
BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS
ROSEBUD, SOUTH DAKOTA
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES
COUNCIL OF CONSOLIDATED BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS
ORDER DENYING APPLICATION FOR REVIEW
December 27, 1989
Before Chairman McKee and Members Talkin and Armendariz.
I. Statement of the Case
This case is before the Authority on an application for review filed by the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Rosebud Agency, Rosebud, South Dakota (the Activity), under section 2422.17(a) of the Authority's Rules and Regulations. The Activity seeks review of the Regional Director's Decision and Order on Objections rejecting the Activity's objection to the procedural conduct of a representation election. The National Federation of Federal Employees, Council of Consolidated Bureau of Indian Affairs Locals (the Petitioner) did not file an opposition to the application.
Because there were two vacancies in the membership of the Authority when the application for review was filed, Acting Chairman McKee issued an interim order on May 12, 1989, directing that consideration of the application be deferred until further notice. The interim order preserved the parties' rights under the Statute to Authority consideration of the Regional Director's decision.
We now consider the Activity's application for review. For the reasons set forth below, we will deny the application.
A mail ballot election was conducted under the supervision of the Regional Director on December 2, 1988, in accordance with the provisions of an Agreement For Consent or Directed Election. The election was held to determine if certain unrepresented employees of the Activity wished to be included in the Petitioner's existing nationwide consolidated unit of Bureau of Indian Affairs employees.
Out of the approximately 17 eligible voters in the unit, 3 employees voted. The three employees all voted to be represented by the Petitioner. All three votes were determined to be valid and none of the ballots was challenged.
The Activity filed an objection to the "procedural conduct of the election." Regional Director's Decision at 2. The Activity contended that because only 3 of approximately 17 eligible voters cast ballots, the number of actual voters does not represent "a sufficient or significant number" of eligible employees to warrant the issuance of a Certification of Representation. Id. The Activity maintained that the low voter participation in the election was due to the use of mail ballot procedures. The Activity cited two decisions of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Kit Mfg. Co., 198 NLRB 1 (1971) and Gold & Baker, 55 NLRB 591 (1944), to support its position that "there is a per se impropriety in the conduct of the election in this case due to the low voter turn out." Id. at 3.
III. The Regional Director's Decision
The Regional Director determined that the Activity's objection had no merit.
The Regional Director noted that: (1) the Activity agreed that the election would be conducted by mail ballot; and (2) the mail ballot procedure is a valid means of conducting representation elections. The Regional Director found that there was no showing that the election was not properly publicized or that any unusual circumstances improperly limited voter participation. The Regional Director also found that the NLRB cases cited by the Activity did not apply as they dealt only with the special situation where only one eligible voter cast a ballot in an election having only two potential eligible voters.
The Regional Director ruled that the election was valid under section 2422.18(c) of the Authority's Rules and Regulations, which states that "[a]n exclusive representative shall be chosen by a majority of the valid ballots cast." She found that there was no requirement in the Authority's Rules and Regulations that a specific percentage or number of eligible voters must cast ballots in order for a representation election to be valid. Accordingly, based on the election results, the Regional Director advised the parties that she would issue a Certification of Inclusion in Existing Unit on behalf of the Petitioner.
IV. The Application for Review
The Activity states that review is requested because "there is a substantial question of law and policy with respect to what represents a significant participation in an election. There is an absence of law and precedent on this issue." Application for Review at 1.
The Activity contends that mail ballots are "an inappropriate passive method" and that "the mail ballot process has failed in this situation to elicit a representation vote." Id. at 2. The Activity also contends that the Regional Director improperly limited the application of the Board decisions in Kit Mfg. Co. and Gold & Baker. The Activity cla