47:0322(24)CA - - HHS, SSA, Region I, Boston, MA and AFGE, Local 1164 - - 1993 FLRAdec CA - - v47 p322
[ v47 p322 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:
47 FLRA No. 24
FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES
DECISION AND ORDER
April 2, 1993
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 decision of the Administrative Law Judge.(1)
The complaint alleged that the Respondent (SSA) violated the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (the Statute) by refusing to bargain with the Union over the impact and implementation of the contemplated relocation of SSA's Hyannis, Massachusetts Branch Office. The Judge found that the Respondent did not violate the Statute because, at the time of the Union's bargaining request, SSA had not made a final decision to relocate the Hyannis office and, therefore, no duty to bargain had yet arisen.
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. We affirm the rulings. Upon consideration of the Judge's decision and the entire record, we adopt the Judge's findings, conclusions, and recommendation that the complaint be dismissed.
In February 1990, the General Services Administration (GSA), anticipating the expiration of the lease for the Hyannis office, required SSA to submit a Request for Space (SF-81), a GSA form on which an agency lists its space requirements in terms of square footage and special needs. In July 1990, GSA began a market survey and competitive bidding process to determine whether to relocate the Hyannis office. Between July 1990 and February 1991, several possible sites were identified by GSA.
In February 1991, SSA indicated to the Union "that the chances were 'fair to good' or 'fairly good' that the [Hyannis] office would be moving to . . . Barnstable Road." Judge's Decision at 2. On July 11, 1991, SSA indicated to the bargaining unit employees "that 'they thought they would move' by September." Id. On July 12, 1991, the Union wrote SSA and requested "to consult and bargain on the [i]mpact and [i]mplementation of the relocation" of the Hyannis office. General Counsel's Exhibit 3. No specific proposals were submitted. The Union also requested that SSA furnish copies of any proposed floor plans and the documents that SSA had submitted to GSA regarding relocation.
SSA informed the Union on July 23, 1991, that no final decision as to relocation had been made, that SSA would advise the Union when a decision was made, and that the information requested would be furnished.(2) The Union filed an unfair labor practice charge on July 25, 1991. The complaint based on that charge alleged that SSA violated the Statute when, on July 25, 1991, SSA refused to bargain over SSA's contemplated relocation of the Hyannis office.(3) The General Counsel argued before the Judge and in its exceptions that "the statutory duty to bargain arises when an agency contemplates a change," and that "[i]n the case of a relocation, there is a contemplated change when an agency submits a Request for Space (SF[-]81) to GSA." General Counsel's Post Hearing Brief to the Judge at 7. See also Exceptions at 3.
The Judge rejected the General Counsel's argument. The Judge stated that once an agency makes a firm decision to relocate, the agency has the obligation to bargain over the impact and implementation of the relocation, and that the obligation must be fulfilled prior to implementation of the change. The