35:0940(101)CA - - HHS, SSA, and SSA, Field Operations, Region II and AFGE - - 1990 FLRAdec CA - - v35 p940

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[ v35 p940 ]
35:0940(101)CA
The decision of the Authority follows:


35 FLRA No. 101

FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY

WASHINGTON, D.C.

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, AND

SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION,

FIELD OPERATIONS, REGION II

(Respondent)

and

AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES

AFL-CIO

(Charging Party)

2-CA-80121

2-CA-80159

DECISION AND ORDER

April 30, 1990

Before Chairman McKee and Members Talkin and Armendariz.

I. Statement of the Case

This unfair labor practice case is before the Authority on exceptions filed by the General Counsel to the attached Administrative Law Judge's Decision. The Respondent filed cross-exceptions and an opposition to the exceptions of the General Counsel.

The consolidated complaint alleged that the Respondent violated section 7116(a)(1), (5), and (6) of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (the Statute) by: (1) conducting a training session on the Field Office Request for Medical Evidence (FORME) Pilot program while negotiations with the American Federation of Government Employees, Local 2608 on the impact and implementation of the FORME Pilot program were pending before the Federal Service Impasses Panel (the Panel or FSIP); and (2) unilaterally implementing the FORME Pilot program in the Carolina, Puerto Rico Branch Office without completing bargaining over the impact and implementation of the program.

The Administrative Law Judge recommended that the complaint be dismissed. Pursuant to section 2423.29 of the Authority's Rules and Regulations and section 7118 of the Statute, we have reviewed the rulings of the Judge made at the hearing and find that no prejudicial error was committed. The rulings are affirmed. For the following reasons, we conclude, contrary to the Judge, that the Respondent violated section 7116(a)(1), (5), and (6) of the Statute.

II. Background

The Charging Party is the exclusive representative of a consolidated nationwide unit of Respondent's employees. The Charging Party has delegated authority to the National Council of Social Security Administration Field Operations Locals (Council) to act as its representative for the purposes of collective bargaining for certain employees of the Social Security Administration (SSA). AFGE, Local 2608 (Union) has been delegated the authority to act as agent for the Council for the purposes of collective bargaining for Respondent's employees in Puerto Rico.

In September or October of 1986, the Union President learned that the Respondent was planning to implement the FORME Pilot program in certain areas of Region II. The purpose of the FORME Pilot program was to reduce the length of time required to process disability benefits claims. Under the FORME program, claims representatives and development clerks in Respondent's field offices initiate requests for medical evidence from treating sources such as doctors and hospitals. Prior to the FORME program, this work was done by the Disability Determination Services (DDS), a state agency which is responsible for making medical determinations about whether an applicant is disabled. Under the FORME program, claims representatives and development clerks complete and process a set of four forms for each source of medical evidence, in addition to completing the documents which were previously used for processing a disability claim. The forms and documents are completed by the claims representatives during the interviewing process. The performance of this additional responsibility increases the length of time claims representatives spend conducting each interview with a disability benefits applicant.

By letter dated August 10, 1987, the Respondent notified the Union that it planned to implement the FORME Pilot program in Puerto Rico on September 21, 1987, and requested the Union's views by August 28, 1987. By letter dated August 21, 1987, the Union forwarded its bargaining proposals on the FORME Pilot program to the Respondent. By letter dated August 24, 1987, the Respondent agreed to bargain and requested any additional proposals by August 28, 1987.

Beginning on September 10, 1987, the parties met and bargained on the FORME Pilot program for 5 days. The parties reached a deadlock on most of the Union's proposals. By letter dated September 16, 1987, the Union informed the Respondent that it had requested the assistance of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) and requested that the Respondent not implement the FORME Pilot program. In the September 16 letter, the Union stated that if agreement was not reached through mediation, the Union would seek the assistance of the Panel. By letter dated September 18, 1987, the Respondent's chief negotiator requested that the Union reconsider its position and agree to management's last best offer.

On October 22, 1987, the parties met with a mediator from FMCS and reached agreement on five proposals. The parties were unable to agree on seven outstanding proposals. The mediator stated that the parties were at impasse. The Union requested the Respondent to provide it with a written statement of management's position on each of the seven proposals, including a statement of negotiability. The Respondent agreed to send its written position on the seven outstanding proposals to the Union. The Respondent "did not at this point, indicate any specific date when FORME would be implemented." Judge's Decision at 5.

By letter sent to the Union on November 9, 1987, the Respondent provided its position on the seven outstanding proposals. The Union "did not receive this letter." Id. In the November 9 letter, the Respondent declared that two of the seven proposals were outside the duty to bargain because they involved the assignment of work. The November 9 letter did not provide any specific date when the FORME Pilot program would be implemented and did not state that Respondent intended to implement the FORME Pilot program.

Following the October 22, 1987, meeting and prior to November 9, the Union President made "some . . . inquiries" about the status of the requested letter. Id. at 9 n.12. On these occasions, Respondent's chief negotiator told the Union President that "the letter was being prepared and would be forthcoming." Id. at 5.

On December 21, 1987, the Union President received a letter from the Respondent stating that the FORME Pilot program would be implemented on December 29, 1987. In the December 21 letter, the Respondent pointed out that negotiations had reached an impasse on October 22, 1987. "Since that date," the Respondent stated:

there has been no further formal contact concerning the issue of FORME. Considering the fact that more than reasonable time has elapsed from the time the impasse was declared to present, we are moving to implement this pilot project immediately.

This is formal notification that FORME will be implemented on December 29, 1987.

Joint Exhibit 8.

After receiving the December 21 letter, the Union President contacted the Respondent, and asked why the Respondent was implementing the FORME program when it had not provided the Union the agreed-upon letter setting forth management's position on the seven outstanding proposals. The Respondent told the Union President that a letter was sent to him on November 9, 1987. The Union President stated that he never received the letter and asked the Respondent to send him a copy of the letter. On December 22, 1987, the Respondent furnished the Union with a copy of its November 9 letter.

By letter dated December 24, 1987, the Union President filed a request for assistance with the Panel on five of the seven proposals and served, by hand-delivery, a copy of the request on the Respondent. The Union's request for assistance did not include the two proposals which the Respondent contended were nonnegotiable. In its request to the Panel, the Union stated that it had not requested Panel assistance earlier, because it was "waiting for management's written position which was delayed extensively." Joint Exhibit 11.

In addition, on December 24, 1987, the Union President hand-delivered a letter to the Respondent stating that the Union did not receive management's November 9 letter and was unaware of its existence until December 21, 1987. In the December 24 letter, the Union informed the Respondent that it would file an unfair labor practice charge with the Authority if the Respondent implemented the FORME Pilot program in Area VIII while negotiations were at impasse.

The Respondent answered the Union's December 24 letter, by letter dated December 28, 1987. The Respondent attached a copy of its November 9 letter and stated:

Even if Management had not made this [November 9 letter] available to you, it is our position that the only information you needed to proceed was the official Impasse declaration of October 22, 1987. . . . Management's position was clearly manifested when the Impasse was declared.

. . . . . . .

We stand by our position that more than a reasonable time has elapsed since the Impasse was declared and that it is within our purview and responsibility to implement. Therefore, FORME will be implemented as scheduled on December 29, 1987.

Joint Exhibit 12.

On December 29, 1987, the Respondent began implementation of the FORME Pilot program by conducting a formal training session for managers and bargaining unit employees.

By letter dated January 7, 1988, the Respondent informed the Union President that the FORME program would be implemented on January 15, 1988, in the Carolina Branch Office. After reviewing the notice, the Union President telephoned Respondent's Carolina Branch Office, and made arrangements to visit the office on January 13, 1988, and meet with employees who would be affected by the change. After meeting with the employees, the Union President delivered bargaining proposals to the Respondent's Carolina Branch Office representative. By letter dated January 19, 1988, the Respondent's Carolina Branch Office representative informed the Union that the matters were out of her jurisdiction.

On January 19, 1988, the Respondent sent a letter to the Panel in which the Respondent explained its position on the five disputed proposals and informed the Panel that it had already satisfied its obligation to bargain with the Union on the FORME Pilot project. By letter dated February 11, 1988, the Panel informed the parties that it declined to assert jurisdiction because it was unclear that an

impasse existed within the meaning of section 2470.2(e) of its regulations. The Panel's letter stated:

[T]he Employer has raised questions concerning its obligation to bargain with respect to the Union's proposals on the FORME pilot project. The Union contends that those claims are without merit. Such questions concerning the obligation to bargain must be resolved in an appropriate forum before a determination can be made as to whether the parties have, in fact, reached a negotiation impasse.

Joint Exhibit 16.

III. The Judge's Decision

The Judge concluded that the Respondent did not violate section 7116(a)(1), (5), and (6) of the Statute when it implemented the FORME Pilot program in Puerto Rico while impact and implementation negotiations over the program were pending before the Panel. The Judge noted that "an agency is required to maintain the status quo after impasse is reached 'and the services of the Panel have been invoked in a timely manner.'" Judge's Decision at 9, quoting Department of the Treasury, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, 18 FLRA 466 (1985) (BATF). The Judge also found that (1) an agency is required to give a union a reasonable opportunity to invoke the services of the Panel after impasse has been reached and after giving notice of intent to implement, and (2) the Authority's determination as to whether a union had a reasonable opportunity to invoke the services of the Panel is based on the circumstances in each case.

The Judge concluded that "the record establishes that the entire series of negotiations and meetings occurred in the context that [the Respondent] intended to implement FORME." Id. at 10. The Judge found that although the parties were deadlocked in their negotiations over the implementation of the FORME Pilot program on October 22, 1987, the Union did not know which proposals should be pursued through the negotiability appeal procedures. Therefore, the Judge concluded that "the matter was not ripe for presentation to FSIP." Id. at 9. The Judge found that the Respondent agreed to provide the Union with a letter setting forth its position on the disputed proposals.

The Judge found further that the Union did not receive the Respondent's November 9 letter and "apparently" after the November 9 date, the Union did not inquire about the letter. Id. According to the Judge, the Union "waited until December 21 when it received notice of the actual date of FORME implementation, before [it] inquired as to where was [the Respondent's] promised letter of position as to the 7 proposals." Id. In the Judge's view, the Union "had reasonable time to seek FSIP's assistance prior to [the] December 21 notification that it would implement FORME on December 29." Id. at 11. The Judge reasoned that because the parties contemplated the Respondent's implementation of the FORME program, the Respondent was not required to provide the Union with additional notice of intent to implement.

The Judge concluded that the Union had "substantial and reasonable time to submit the issues to FSIP between November 9 and December 21[,]" and that the Union did not "submit the issues to FSIP in a timely manner and [the Respondent] no longer had to maintain the status quo." Id. Accordingly, the Judge concluded that the Respondent did not fail or refuse to cooperate in the impasse procedures in violation of section 7116(a)(1), (5), and (6) of the Statute, when it implemented the FORME Pilot program on December 29, 1987.

IV. Positions of the Parties

A. The General Counsel's Exceptions

The General Counsel contends that the Judge's findings of fact are "at variance" with his conclusion that the Union had a reasonable opportunity to seek the assistance of the Panel prior to the Respondent's implementation of the FORME program. General Counsel's Exceptions at 2. The General Counsel argues that the Judge found that without the statement of position from the Respondent, "'the matter was not ripe for presentation to the FSIP[.]'" Id. citing the Judge's Decision at 9. The General Counsel notes that the Judge found that the Union President spoke with the Respondent's chief negotiator "'several times during November and December 1987 about the status of the promised letter.'" Id. citing the Judge's Decision at 5. However, the General Counsel points out that the Judge concluded that the Union "'apparently' never asked where the letter was" and "was satisfied 'to delay and sit and wait for the letter.'" Id. citing the Judge's Decision at 9, 11. The General Counsel argues that the Judge's initial finding is correct, and that the Union made several inquiries about the status of the promised letter, including inquiries in December 1987.

The General Counsel asserts further that even if the Union did not inquire about the status of the promised letter, the Judge erred in concluding that the Union had a reasonable opportunity to seek Panel assistance prior to the Respondent's December 21 notification. The General Counsel contends that the Union's opportunity to request Panel assistance began on December 21. The General Counsel argues that it was the Respondent's obligation to provide notice of implementation of the change, not the Union's obligation to inquire as to when the Respondent planned to implement the change. The General Counsel contends that the Respondent's November 9 letter could not have "triggered" the Union's obligation to file a request with the Panel because the letter did not state that the Respondent intended to implement or when implementation was planned. Id. at 5. Therefore, the General Counsel contends that the Judge erred in concluding that the Union did not submit the issues to the Panel in a timely manner.

To remedy the violation, the General Counsel requests the Authority to order the Respondent to (1) cease using FORME procedures to process disability claims; (2) bargain with the Union, upon request, concerning procedures for making whole employees who were adversely affected by the implementation of the FORME program; and (3) give retroactive effect to any agreement reached.

B. The Respondent's Opposition to the General Counsel's Exceptions and Cross-Exceptions

The Respondent contends that the General Counsel's arguments concerning the issue of whether the Union inquired about the status of the promised letter after November 9, 1987, constitute nothing more than disagreement with the Judge's decision. The Respondent notes that the Judge found that the Union "did not inquire as to the November 9, 1987 (JTX 13) letter after November 9, 1987." Respondent's Opposition at 9 (emphasis in original). The Respondent notes further that the Judge's finding on this issue is supported by the record testimony of Respondent's witness.

The Respondent contends that the Judge correctly concluded that the Union had reasonable time to submit the issues to the Panel between November 9 and December 21. In addition, the Respondent argues that its December 29 implementation of the FORME Pilot program did not violate 7116(a)(6) of the Statute because the Panel declined to assert jurisdiction over the matter. The Respondent argues that there can be no finding of a section 7116(a)(6) violation if the Panel declines to assert jurisdiction, because "there would be no evidence that a bonafied [sic] 'impasse' existed without such a determination or certification of impasse from the Panel." Respondent's Post Hearing Brief at 39.

The Respondent argues further that "it was 'necessary in the necessary functioning' of the agency that the Respondent implemented the FORME Pilot program." Id. at 43. The Respondent contends that implementation of the FORME Pilot program was (1) necessary in order for the Respondent to carry out its mission to administer its Social Insurance Disability Program, and (2) "crucial to the Respondent's operating effectiveness as it relates to the Respondent's delivery of services directly to the public." Id. According to the Respondent, the FORME Pilot program was "an attempt by the Respondent to deliver more prompt, direct and efficient services to the persons who desperately need such disability services." Id. at 44.

The Respondent maintains that because it implemented the FORME Pilot program consistent with the necessary functioning of the Agency, the status quo ante remedy sought by the General Counsel and the Charging Party is not appropriate. Id. at 46. The Respondent asserts that a status quo ante remedy "would generate total disruption to Respondent's mission, as well as its service to the public." Id. at 47.

V. Analysis and Conclusion

For the following reasons, we find that the Respondent violated section 7116(a)(1), (5), and (6) of the Statute by implementing the FORME Pilot program in Puerto Rico while impact and implementation negotiations over the program were pending before the Panel.

A. The Union Timely Invoked the Services of the Panel

The duty to bargain under the Statute requires that, with exceptions not relevant here, parties meet their obligation to bargain prior to making a change in a condition of employment. See, for example, Social Security Administration, 35 FLRA 296 (1990) (SSA). See also Department of the Navy, United States Naval Supply Center, San Diego, California, 31 FLRA 1088 (1988). The impasse resolution procedures of the Panel constitute one aspect of the collective bargaining process. See, for example, SSA, 35 FLRA at 304; BATF, 18 FLRA at 472. Accordingly, consistent with the parties' mutual obligation to bargain in good faith, after an impasse in negotiations has been reached, an agency is required to afford a union sufficient notice of when a change will be implemented in order to provide the union with a reasonable opportunity to timely invoke the services of the Panel. See, for example, U.S. Customs Service, 16 FLRA 198 (1984).

We reject the Judge's conclusion that the Respondent was not required to provide the Union with notice of its intention to implement FORME because the "parties were both operating in the context that SSA intended to implement FORME[.]" Judge's Decision at 11. We note first that all impact and implementation negotiations result from anticipated changes in conditions of employment. The "context" in which this dispute arose, therefore, is not unique. Second, a requirement that an agency provide a union with notice of the time of implementation after impasse is reached does not, contrary to the Judge's finding, constitute a "mechanical" approach to collective bargaining which "would not encourage more effective bargaining and use of the FSIP procedures." Id. Instead, in our view, the requirement furthers the process of collective bargaining. We note that: (1) when a change in conditions of employment is to be implemented is a matter within the sole control and knowledge of an agency; and (2) providing notice of implementation is not burdensome to an agency. In addition, requiring an agency to provide notice of the time of implementation would encourage parties to continue efforts to reach agreement.

The Union did not receive notice of when the Respondent intended to implement the FORME Pilot program until December 21. The Union filed a request for Panel assistance 3 days after receiving the Respondent's notice and 4 days prior to the announced implementation date. Therefore, for the reasons discussed above, we find, contrary to the Judge, that the Union timely invoked the services of the Panel. Accordingly, we reject the Respondent's argument that it was not obligated to maintain the status quo because the Union did not submit the issues to the Panel within a reasonable time after the impasse occurred on October 22, 1987.

B. The Respondent Violated Section 7116(a)(1), (5), and (6) of the Statute When It Failed To Maintain the Status Quo After the Union Timely Invoked the Services of the Panel

Once parties reach an impasse in their negotiations and one party timely invokes the services of the Panel, the status quo must be maintained to the maximum extent possible, that is, to the extent consistent with the necessary functioning of the agency, in order to allow the Panel to take whatever action is deemed appropriate. BATF, 18 FLRA at 468. A failure or refusal to maintain the status quo during such time constitutes a violation of section 7116(a)(1), (5), and (6) of the Statute. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Kansas City Region, Kansas City, Missouri, 23 FLRA 435, 436-37 (1986).

We find no basis on which to conclude that this requirement is, or should be, affected by whatever action the Panel eventually takes regarding the impasse. Indeed, as noted above, the purpose of the requirement is to facilitate the Panel's consideration of negotiation impasses and allow the Panel to take whatever action it deems appropriate to resolve disputes. Allowing an agency to implement a change based on its speculation as to what action the Panel will take after implementation would, in our view, undermine the important role played by the Panel in collective bargaining under the Statute. Thus, we reject the Respondent's contention that it was not obligated to maintain the status quo because the Panel declined jurisdiction after implementation.

It is clear that the Respondent implemented the FORME Pilot program while the dispute was pending before the Panel. Accordingly, unless the Respondent can demonstrate that the implementation was consistent with the necessary functioning of the agency, the Respondent's implementation of the FORME Pilot program violated section 7116(a)(1), (5), and (6) of the Statute.

The Respondent argues in this regard that "it was 'necessary in the necessary functioning' of the agency that the Respondent implemented the FORME Pilot Program." Respondent's Post Hearing Brief at 43. The Respondent argues that the implementation of the FORME Pilot Program was "necessary in order for the Respondent to effectively and efficiently carry out the mission to administer its Social Insurance Disability Program." Id. In particular, the Respondent argues that it was necessary to implement the FORME Pilot program on December 29, because the Respondent and DDS had agreed that all the required arrangements would be completed by that date. The Respondent asserts that it wanted to begin the pilot program with current lists of doctors and medical sources and that DDS would have been required to update the lists if the implementation was delayed.

We conclude that the Respondent has failed to demonstrate that the disputed implementation of the FORME Pilot program on December 29 was required consistent with the necessary functioning of the Agency. In our view, the Respondent's arguments establish only that the Respondent desired to implement the FORME Pilot program on December 29, 1987. We note that at the time of implementation the Respondent did not know what impact the FORME Pilot program would have on the processing of disability benefits claims. Transcript at 120-21. In fact, the FORME program was implemented as a pilot designed to test whether the project would increase the Respondent's efficiency in processing disability cases. Inasmuch as the program was implemented to test its effect on the functioning of the Agency, we conclude that its implementation while the dispute was pending before the Panel was not necessary to the functioning of the Agency. In addition, the Respondent and DDS previously had agreed to implement the FORME Pilot program on September 21, 1987, and at that time, DDS had completed the arrangements for implementation. The Respondent cancelled the September 21 implementation because the parties had not completed bargaining and the Respondent does not contend that there were any factors mandating implementation on December 29, which did not exist when the Respondent cancelled the implementation on September 21. In these circumstances, we find that the Respondent has not established that the implementation of the FORME Pilot program on December 29 was necessary for the efficient functioning of the Agency.

As the Respondent has failed to establish that implementation of the FORME Pilot program on December 29 was consistent with the necessary functioning of the Agency, we find that the failure of the Respondent to maintain the status quo by unilaterally implementing the FORME Pilot program while disputed impact and implementation proposals were pending before the Panel, constituted a violation of section 7116(a)(1), (5), and (6) of the Statute.

C. A Status Quo Ante Remedy Is Warranted

The General Counsel requests that the Authority issue a status quo ante remedy, requiring the Respondent to cease using the FORME program procedures to process disability benefits cases and to reinstate the case processing procedures which existed prior to the implementation of the FORME Pilot program. The General Counsel argues that a return to the status quo is appropriate in this case because the "Respondent admitted that the FORME program was implemented as a pilot so that the Agency would retain the flexibility to terminate the program." General Counsel's Post Hearing Brief at 16. The General Counsel asserts that "it cannot be unduly disruptive of the Agency's operations to order the Agency to exercise an option which it has already reserved." Id. at 16-17.

The Respondent argues that a status quo ante remedy "would generate total disruption to the Respondent's mission, as well as its service to the public." Respondent's Post Hearing Brief at 47. The Respondent cites testimony of the Assistant District Manager, San Juan District, that the Respondent's main objectives in implementing the FORME Pilot program in Puerto Rico were to improve the processing time of disability benefits claims and to reduce the backlog of pending cases. The Assistant District Manager contended that the implementation of the FORME Pilot program had improved case processing time. He noted that management analyzed 82 cases that were processed from April 3 to May 13, 1988, and that of those cases, the 37 FORME cases were processed in 67 days, while the 45 non-FORME cases were processed in 188 days. Transcript at 116-117.

In Federal Correctional Institute, 8 FLRA 604, 606 (1982), the Authority held that status quo ante remedies may be issued in situations where management failed to fulfill its duty to bargain under sections 7106(b)(2) and 7106(b)(3) of the Statute. The Authority stated:

Accordingly, in determining whether a status quo ante remedy would be appropriate in any specific case involving a violation of the duty to bargain over impact and implementation, the Authority considers, among other things, (1) whether, and when, notice was given to the union by the agency concerning the action or change decided upon; (2) whether, and when, the union requested bargaining on the procedures to be observed by the agency in implementing such action or change and/or concerning appropriate arrangements for employees adversely affected by such action or change; (3) the willfulness of the agency's conduct in failing to discharge its bargaining obligations under the Statute; (4) the nature and extent of the impact experienced by adversely affected employees; and (5) whether, and to what degree, a status quo ante remedy would disrupt or impair the efficiency and effectiveness of the agency's operations.

After taking into consideration the factors set forth in Federal Correctional Institution, we find that the status quo ante remedy requested by the General Counsel is appropriate and warranted in this case. We note that the Respondent's sole basis for objecting to a status quo ante remedy is the alleged disruption that remedy would have on its operations. There is, therefore, no basis in this record on which to conclude that a status quo ante remedy is inappropriate based on any of the other factors identified in Federal Correctional Institution. Further, the Respondent has not supported its assertion that a status quo ante remedy would disrupt its operations with specific allegations concerning how, and to what degree, such a disruption would occur. We note again that FORME was implemented as a pilot program, designed to determine whether the program would improve agency efficiency, and that the Agency has not demonstrated that implementation of the program while the dispute was pending before the Panel was consistent with the necessary functioning of the Agency.

We determine whether a status quo ante remedy is appropriate, consistent with the factors discussed in Federal Correctional Institution, on the basis of evidence and arguments. While the pilot program may be resulting in some reduction of time in case processing, there is no evidence in this record that a status quo ante remedy would disrupt the Agency's operations. Moreover, it is undisputed that the implementation of the program has adversely affected some employees. Accordingly, we conclude that a status quo ante remedy is appropriate and warranted in order to best effectuate the purposes and policies of the Statute.

VI.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 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Social Security Administration, and Social Security Administration Field Operations, Region II shall:

1.Cease and desist from:

(a) Unilaterally implementing the Field Office Request for Medical Evidence (FORME) Pilot program in Puerto Rico at a time when a bargaining impasse over the impact and implementation of the program is pending before the Federal Service Impasses Panel.

(b) Failing or refusing to cooperate in impasse procedures as required by the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute.

(c) In any like or related manner interfering with, restraining, or coercing its employees in the exercise of their rights assured by the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute.

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

(a) Cease using the FORME Pilot program case processing procedures in Puerto Rico and reinstate the case processing procedures which existed prior to the December 29, 1987 implementation of the FORME case processing procedures.

(b) Notify the American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, of any proposed change in the case processing procedures and, upon request, bargain with the exclusive representative, to the extent consonant with the obligations imposed by the Statute, concerning the procedures to be observed in implementing such change and appropriate arrangements for employees adversely affected.

(c) Post at all facilities of the Social Security Administration Field Operations, Region II, 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 Regional Commissioner, 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 2423.30 of the Authority's Rules and Regulations, notify the Regional Director, Region II, Federal Labor Relations Authority, 26 Federal Plaza, Room 3700, New York, N.Y. 10278, in writing, within 30 days from the date of this Order, as to what steps have been taken to comply.



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