47:0602(53)CU - - Air Force Materiel Command,Wright-Patterson AFB and AFGE Local 1138 - - 1993 FLRAdec CU - - v47 p602



[ v47 p602 ]
47:0602(53)CU
The decision of the Authority follows:


47 FLRA No. 53

FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY

WASHINGTON, D.C.

_____

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE

AIR FORCE MATERIEL COMMAND

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE

(Activity)

and

AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES

LOCAL 1138

(Labor Organization/Petitioner)

CH-CU-20021

CH-CU-20022

CH-CU-20037

CH-CU-20042

_____

ORDER DENYING APPLICATION FOR REVIEW

May 7, 1993

_____

Before Chairman McKee and Members Talkin and Armendariz.

I. Statement of the Case

This consolidated case is before the Authority on an application for review filed by the Activity, U.S. Department of the Air Force, Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (Activity) under section 2422.17(a) of the Authority's Rules and Regulations. The Activity seeks review of the Decision and Order of the Regional Director (RD) on Petitions for Clarification of Unit (CU) concerning the bargaining unit status of several groups of employees following a reorganization at the Activity.

The RD found that the employees who are the subject of the petitions share a clear and identifiable community of interest with other employees in a consolidated bargaining unit located, in part, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB), and that the inclusion of the employees in the consolidated bargaining unit will promote effective dealings with, and efficient operations of, the Activity.

The Petitioner, Local 1138, filed an opposition to the Activity's application for review. For the reasons set forth below, we deny the Activity's application.

II. Background

The American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO (AFGE), is the exclusive representative of a nationwide consolidated bargaining unit that encompasses approximately 65,000 employees of the Air Force Logistics Command, including non-professional, non-supervisory employees at WPAFB.(1) Local 1138 is the agent of AFGE for the purpose of representing unit employees at WPAFB and was authorized by AFGE to file the petitions in this proceeding.

On July 1, 1992, the Department of the Air Force consolidated two of its major commands, the Air Force Logistics Command (AFLC) and the Air Force Systems Command (AFSC). The consolidated organization, known as the Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC), combined the missions of the former commands. Thus, AFMC is responsible for the research, development, testing, acquisition, and delivery of Air Force weapons systems and non-weapon military systems, formerly provided by AFSC, and for logistical support of those systems, formerly provided by AFLC.

Prior to the reorganization, the AFLC was headquartered at WPAFB in Ohio; the AFSC was headquartered at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland (Andrews AFB). Following the consolidation, WPAFB became the headquarters for AFMC.

Before the commands were consolidated, the 2750th Air Base Wing (ABW), a subordinate organization of the AFLC, served as a landlord to tenant organizations on WPAFB. In this capacity, it was responsible for the operation and maintenance of the base complex, including the operation of the personnel office. The personnel office provided all personnel servicing for the AFLC bargaining unit employees at WPAFB. It did not, however, provide personnel services to the Aeronautical Systems Division (ASD), which was physically located at WPAFB. The ASD was a component of the AFSC and, as such, reported to the AFSC headquarters at Andrews AFB. The 6,000 ASD employees were serviced by their own personnel office. Local 1138 is now seeking to accrete approximately 3,700 non-professional, non-supervisory employees assigned to the ASD into AFGE's consolidated bargaining unit.(2)

Following the consolidation of the AFSC and the AFLC, the ASD was redesignated as the Aeronautical Systems Center (ASC). The Commander of the ASD became the Commander of the ASC and reports directly to the Commander of the AFMC. The former Commander of the 2750th ABW, who had previously reported directly to the Commander of the AFLC, now reports to the Commander of the ASC. In addition, the personnel offices that serviced the 2750th ABW and the ASD were consolidated into the 2750th Mission Support Squadron which services all AFMC employees at WPAFB. As a result of the consolidation of the AFSC and AFLC personnel offices, all AFMC employees are subject to the same personnel policies and general conditions of employment. In addition, all AFMC employees have the same areas of consideration for promotion and reduction-in-force (RIF) purposes.

The consolidation of the commands also resulted in the movement of employees between organizational components at WPAFB and the merger of their functions. Prior to the reorganization, there were two field units, the Center for Science and Technology Insertion (CSTI/OA) and the Wright-Patterson Contracting Center (WPCC), which reported directly to the AFLC. A third organization, the 2046th Communications-Computer Systems Group (2046th CCSG), was a component of the 2750th ABW and also reported to the AFLC. The eligible employees of each of these organizations were included in AFGE's consolidated bargaining unit. With the consolidation of the two major commands, each of these organizations was realigned and placed under the ASC Commander. The effect of the reorganization on each of these functions is described more fully below. As a result of the reorganization, the Activity no longer considers any of the employees in these functions to be included in the AFGE consolidated bargaining unit. The bargaining unit status of the positions in each of these three organizations is also at issue in this proceeding.

A. The Merger of Contracting Functions

Prior to the establishment of the AFMC, the AFLC's contracting function was provided by the WPCC. This organization included approximately 312 bargaining unit employees. The Commander of the WPCC reported to the Commander of the AFLC. The AFSC's contracting support was provided by an organization within the ASD, known as the ASD/PK. This organization included approximately 688 employees, about 500 of whom were considered non-supervisory, non-professional employees. These employees were not represented by any labor organization. The Commander of the ASD/PK reported to the Commander of the AFSC.

With the creation of the AFMC, the contracting functions of the AFLC and the AFSC were combined into one organization, the ASC/PK, which was organizationally placed under the ASC. Thus, the former WPCC was organizationally placed under the ASC/PK and is now designated as the Directorate of Operational and Central Support Contracting (PKW). PKW personnel continue to work in the same locations and perform the same functions under the same supervision as they did prior to the reorganization.

The majority of the non-supervisory, non-professional employees in the ASC/PK, including those in the PKW, are contract negotiators and procurement clerks. All of the ASC/PK employees are covered by the same appraisal system, awards system, leave policies, discipline policies, and hours of work.

B. The Merger of Communication and Computer Operations

Prior to the reorganization, the 2046th CCSG was a part of the AFLC and had approximately 211 non-supervisory, non-professional employees. It was responsible for the communications and computer systems operation of the AFLC at WPAFB. It was also responsible for the air traffic control operations at WPAFB, as well as the Dayton Metropolitan Area Defense Phone System.

Within the AFSC, the ASD/SC performed many of the same functions as the 2046th CCSG. The ASD/SC was comprised of about 50 non-supervisory, non-professional employees who, as a part of the AFSC, were not included in the AFGE consolidated unit.

As a part of the consolidation of the AFLC and the AFSC, the ASD/SC organization was merged with the 2046th CCSG. The ASD/SC employees were assigned to the 2046th CCSG and the business management function and the planning and programming functions of the two organizations, along with some other operations, were integrated. The Commander of the 2046th CCSG, who previously had reported through the 2750th ABW Commander to the Commander of the AFLC, now reports to the Commander of the ASC. As previously noted, the latter reports to the Commander of the AFMC.

Subsequent to the merger of the communications and computer functions, the employees of the 2046th CCSG continue, for the most part, to perform the same job duties. All the employees of the newly constituted 2046th CCSG are covered by the same appraisal system, awards system, leave policies, policies on discipline, and hours of work.

C. The Merger of Acquisition Logistics Functions

Prior to the reorganization, the CSTI/OA was responsible for providing acquisition logistics functional support to ASD organizations, including ASD/AL. Although CSTI/OA personnel reported to the ASD and were assigned to the ASD, they were identified as AFLC employees. The approximately 235 non-supervisory, non-professional employees of CSTI/OA were also considered to be part of the AFGE consolidated bargaining unit because CSTI/OA was a field operating agency under the AFLC. These employees worked in the ASD offices along with approximately 150 ASD/AL employees who were performing the same functions. Nevertheless, the ASD/AL employees were not in the AFGE unit because they were identified as AFSC employees.

With the establishment of the AFMC, the CSTI/OA organization and the ASD/AL organization were combined to form the ASC/AL. This organization now reports to the ASC Commander. The ASC/AL employees perform identical work under the same immediate supervision as they did prior to the reorganization. Additionally, like other AFMC employees, they are now subject to the same personnel policies and practices, and have the same conditions of employment.

III. The Petitions

As previously noted, Local 1138 filed four CU petitions seeking to clarify AFGE's consolidated bargaining unit.

In Case No. CH-CU-20021, the petition pertains to the consolidation of the contracting support functions and the resultant merger of the WPCC with the ASD/PK. In this petition, Local 1138 seeks to include eligible employees of the ASC/PK in the established bargaining unit. In the alternative, Local 1138 seeks to retain all eligible employees of the former WPCC in the bargaining unit.

In Case No. CH-CU-20022, the petition pertains to the consolidation of the communication and computer support functions and the resultant merger of the 2046th CCSG with the ASD/SC. In this petition, Local 1138 seeks to include eligible employees of the 2046th CCSG in the established unit. In the alternative, Local 1138 seeks to retain eligible employees of the former 2046th CCSG in the bargaining unit.

Case No. CH-CU-20037 concerns the consolidation of the acquisition logistics functions and the resultant merger of the CSTI/OA with the ASD/AL. In this petition, Local 1138 seeks to include all eligible ASC/AL employees in the established unit. In the alternative, Local 1138 requests that the Authority clarify the existing unit "to reaffirm that all positions . . . within the [former CSTI] continue to be within the unit following the . . . disestablishment of the center." Authority Exhibit 1(g).

Finally, in Case No. CH-CU-20042, Local 1138 requests the Authority to include all eligible ASC employees in the AFGE consolidated bargaining unit.

IV. The Regional Director's Decision

In accordance with section 7112(a)(1) of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (Statute), the RD found, based on the facts set forth above, that the employees who are the subject of the instant petitions "share a clear and identifiable community of interest with the other employees in the AFMC consolidated bargaining unit located at WPAFB and that their inclusion into the AFMC consolidated bargaining unit will promote effective dealings with, and efficient operations of, the Activity." RD's Decision at 13. The RD further found that the proposed inclusion would reduce the potential for unit fragmentation. In reaching this result, the RD relied on the Authority's decisions in, among others, Defense Mapping Agency, Aerospace Center, St. Louis, Missouri, 46 FLRA 502 (1992) (DMA, Aerospace Center); National Treasury Employees Union, Chapter 243, 39 FLRA 96 (1991) (NTEU); and Headquarters, 97th U.S. Army Reserve Command, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, 32 FLRA 567 (1988).

In arriving at his findings, the RD noted that, following the consolidation of the AFLC and the AFSC, "the affected employees are now all part of a unified, single, organizationally and functionally integrated command, the AFMC." RD's Decision at 13. The RD found that all of the employees involved are subject to the same general conditions of employment, as well as the same personnel policies and regulations, including the same competitive areas for promotions and the same areas of consideration for RIFs. The RD additionally noted that the affected employees have similar job titles, duties, and skills and are serviced by the same personnel office. Finally, the RD found that the affected employees would be subject to the same labor relations policies that are administered by the single personnel office that services all AFMC employees at WPAFB.

The RD also rejected the Activity's arguments that the consolidation of the AFSC and the AFLC did not alter the "non-unit bargaining status" of the ASC employees or "materially alter ASC's historical exclusion from the AFMC (AFLC) bargaining unit." Id. at 11. The RD found, instead, that inclusion of the ASC employees in AFGE's bargaining unit was appropriate because the ASC employees share a clear and identifiable community of interest with employees in AFGE's unit. The RD also rejected the Activity's argument that an election was warranted in order to allow employees to vote on their proposed inclusion in AFGE's unit. The RD found that an election was not appropriate because no question concerning representation had been raised. Relying on Department of Health and Human Services, Region II, New York, New York, 43 FLRA 1245 (1992) (HHS, Region II), the RD also found that there was no "numerical overshadowing" of the existing bargaining unit by the employees whom the labor organization was seeking to accrete. RD's Decision at 14 n.6. In this connection, the RD noted that the consolidated bargaining unit is comprised of 65,000 employees.

Accordingly, the RD ordered that the AFGE consolidated unit be clarified to include the following AFMC employees at WPAFB: the non-professional general schedule (GS) employees of the ASC/PK; the non-professional GS employees of the 2046th CCSG; the non-professional GS employees of the ASC/AL; and the non-professional GS employees of the ASC.

In addition, and noting the parties' agreement, the RD found that it was appropriate to amend the certification to reflect a change in the name of the AFLC to the AFMC.

V. Positions of the Parties

A. Activity's Application for Review

The Activity asserts that the RD's decision raises a substantial question of law and policy "because of the absence of any on point [Authority] precedent." Application at 1. Additionally, the Activity asserts that this case presents "extraordinary circumstances warranting reconsideration of a[n] [Authority] policy." Id.

In support of its position, the Activity contends that the instant case is one of first impression. According to the Activity, this case is distinguishable from other Authority cases involving accretion because of "the significant magnitude and scope of the AFMC reorganization" including the large number of non-bargaining unit employees involved, the lack of a competing union representing the employees to be accreted, and the history of the unrepresented employees choosing to refrain from union representation. Id. at 8. The Activity asserts that section 7112(a)(1) of the Statute "has served the federal labor-management community well" in cases where the criteria for accretion have not been met, and in cases where the criteria for accretion have been met but the relative number of employees involved was small and there was no indication of employee preference. Id. at 9. However, the Activity argues that this case is unique because it involves a large number of employees who have a history of rejecting union representation. In this regard, the Activity maintains that "[t]he desires of those employees must not . . . be ignored under the Statute." Id. at 10 (footnote omitted).

The Activity further contends that the number of employees proposed for accretion relative to the number of employees in bargaining unit positions should not be controlling or even considered. Rather, in its view, the "gross number of employees whose rights are determined without their consent[]" is the important consideration. Id. According to the Activity, "[i]n balancing the public interest in federal sector collective bargaining expressed in the Statute with the Congressionally mandated right of employees to choose, the right of choice of 3,700 employees should take priority[.]" Id. Therefore, the Activity argues that an election should be conducted in this case. In the event that its application for review is granted, the Activity additionally requests a stay of the RD's Decision and Order.

B. Petitioner's Opposition

Local 1138 asserts that the Activity has failed to describe any circumstances that warrant reconsideration of the RD's decision and has attempted to raise new issues before the Authority. In this connection, the Union states that the proposed accretion involves "less than 3,000 former non-bargaining unit positions into a consolidated unit of approximately 65,000 [employees]." Opposition at 1. The Union also asserts that the Activity impermissibly "carved out" of AFGE's bargaining unit a number of employees whom the Activity no longer considers to be part of the unit. Id. at 2. In this regard, the Union states that there are approximately 758 employees who were assigned to the former WPCC, the 2046th CCSG, and the CSTI/OA and that these employees continue to be a part of AFGE's bargaining unit. Finally, Local 1138 requests that the Authority deny the requested stay in the event the Activity's application for review is granted.

VI. Analysis and Conclusions

For the following reasons, we conclude that no compelling reasons exist, within the meaning of section 2422.17(c) of the Authority's Rules and Regulations, for granting the Activity's application for review. The Activity's application expresses nothing more than disagreement with established Authority precedent, and the Regional Director's application of that precedent to the facts of this case.

In deciding whether employees should be included in an established unit following a reorganization, the Authority is bound by the criteria for determining the appropriateness of a bargaining unit set forth in section 7112(a)(1) of the Statute.(3) The Authority may determine a unit to be appropriate only if the determination will: (1) ensure a clear and identifiable community of interest among the employees in the unit; and (2) promote effective dealings with, and efficiency of the operations of, the agency involved. See, for example, DMA, Aerospace Center, 46 FLRA at 509. In making determinations under section 7112(a)(1), the Authority examines the factors presented on a case-by-case basis. The Authority has not specified individual factors or the number of such factors needed to conclude that groups of employees share a clear and identifiable community of interest. See, NTEU, 39 FLRA at 101.

The RD in this case applied the criteria set forth in section 7112(a)(1). In so doing, the RD found that as a result of the consolidation of the AFLC and the AFSC, the employees of the AFMC share a common mission and organizational structure, perform similar duties and functions and have common conditions of employment. He further found that there was a centralization of personnel functions and that the employees are subject to the same labor relations policies that are administered by a single personnel office. Accordingly, the RD concluded that the employees who are the subject of the petitions share a clear and identifiable community of interest with the AFMC bargaining unit employees at WPAFB and that their inclusion in the existing unit would promote effective dealings with, and efficient operations of, the Activity.

Based on the findings relied on by the RD and the reasons given by him, we find that, as a result of the consolidation of the AFLC and the AFSC, the employees sought to be included in AFGE's bargaining unit share a community of interest with the employees in the existing unit. We also find that the inclusion of these employees in the existing unit will promote effective dealings with, and efficient operations of, the Activity.(4) See, HHS, Region II, 43 FLRA at 1255; NTEU, 39 FLRA at 101-102.

We find no merit to the Activity's argument that the instant case is one of first impression because prior Authority decisions involving proposed accretions were not as significant in scope or magnitude as the reorganization involved in this case. As stated above, the proper standard for determining whether employees are appropriately accreted into an existing bargaining unit is set forth in section 7112(a)(1) of the Statute. Questions concerning the nature of a reorganization and its effect on employees to be accreted necessarily are taken into account when applying the statutory standard. There is no basis on which to find that different criteria should be applied in this case. Insofar as the RD properly applied the statutory standard and Authority precedent interpreting that standard, we find that the Activity's argument expresses mere disagreement with the RD's application of existing precedent. Such disagreement provides no basis for granting review of the RD's decision. See, for example, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Allen Park, Michigan, 43 FLRA 264, 266 (1991).

We also reject the Activity's contention that this case presents extraordinary circumstances warranting reconsideration of an Authority policy because it involves a large number of employees who have historically resisted attempts at union representation. As we stated above, the criteria for determining whether employees should be included in an existing bargaining unit following a reorganization are set forth in section 7112(a)(1) of the Statute. Prior attempts at organizing some or all of the formerly unrepresented employees is not determinative of whether, following a reorganization, the employees are appropriately accreted into an existing bargaining unit.

Similarly, we also reject the Activity's argument that an election should be held to determine whether the 3,700 employees desire to be accreted into the existing bargaining unit. We agree with the RD's finding that an election is not warranted in these circumstances. As noted by the RD, elections are held when questions concerning representation are raised. With one exception, elections are not conducted when there is an attempt to clarify the bargaining unit status of employees. That exception, involving situations where the number of employees proposed for inclusion nearly equals or exceeds the number of employees in the existing unit, was found not to apply here because the existing unit contains considerably more employees than are sought to be accreted. Consequently, an election is not warranted. See, HHS, Region II, 43 FLRA at 1255-56.

In sum, the Activity has not demonstrated extraordinary circumstances warranting reconsideration of the Authority's long-standing application of section 7112(a)(1) for determining the appropriateness of units and the RD's application of the standards set forth in that section. See, DMA, Aerospace Center, 46 FLRA at 510.

VII. Order

The application for review of the Regional Director's Decision and Order is denied.(5)




FOOTNOTES:
(If blank, the decision does not have footnotes.)
 

1. As noted by the RD, the consolidated unit was certified as the exclusive representative in Case No. 53-10177 on January 13, 1978.

2. In 1971 and 1972, eligible ASD employees voted against recognition by Local 1138. In 1979, Local 1138 mounted an unsuccessful organization drive to represent various ASD employees.

3. Section 7112(a)(1) of the Statute provides:

The Authority shall determine the appropriateness of any unit. The Authority shall determine in each case whether, in order to ensure employees the fullest freedom in exercising the rights guaranteed under this chapter, the appropriate unit should be established on an agency, plant, installation, functional, or other basis and shall determine any unit to be an appropriate unit only if the determination will ensure a clear and identifiable community of interest among the employees in the unit and will promote effective dealings with, and efficiency of the operations of, the agency involved.

4. In adopting the RD's findings, we note the absence of any contention that the reorganization resulted in an entirely new organizational entity such that AFGE's consolidated unit no longer remains appropriate under the Statute. Compare U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Washington, D.C., 47 FLRA 247 (1993), in which the Au