47:1249(116)CA - - Sacramento Air Logistics Center, McClellan AFB, CA and AFGE Local 1857 - - 1993 FLRAdec CA - - v47 p1249
[ v47 p1249 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:
47 FLRA No. 116
FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY
SACRAMENTO AIR LOGISTICS CENTER
MCCLELLAN AIR FORCE BASE, CALIFORNIA
AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES
DECISION AND ORDER
July 19, 1993
Before Chairman McKee and Members Talkin and Armendariz.
I. Statement of the Case
This unfair labor practice case is before the Authority in accordance with section 2429.1(a) of the Authority's Rules and Regulations, based on a stipulation of facts by the parties, who have agreed that no material issue of fact exists.
The complaint alleges that the Respondent violated section 7116(a)(1) and (5) of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (the Statute) when it refused to bargain over a Union-initiated bargaining request concerning the presentation of and posting of information regarding sustained superior performance (SSP) awards.
For the reasons stated below, we find that the Respondent did not commit the unfair labor practice alleged.
The American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO (AFGE), is the exclusive bargaining representative of a nationwide consolidated unit of Air Force Logistics Command employees, including those at the Respondent's facilities. The Union is an agent of AFGE for representing unit employees of the Respondent. The parties are bound by a master labor agreement (MLA), which "contains no provisions concerning the presentation of performance awards or the posting of award information regarding [the] Respondent['s] employees represented by the [Union]." Stipulation, paragraph 6.
Entered into evidence, as Exhibit 2 of the stipulation, is Article 15 of the parties' MLA, entitled "EMPLOYEE PERFORMANCE."(1) Section 15.04, entitled "PERFORMANCE RECOGNITION," provides that "[t]he primary intent of this program is to recognize employee performance which exceeds the requirements of the performance standards." Stipulation Exhibit 2. That section lists various types of monetary and nonmonetary recognition for employees, including SSP awards, and provides that "[t]he particular type of recognition awarded will be determined by management." Id. Specifically, section 15.04(d) provides:
d. The Civilian Personnel Office will annually publicize the Performance Recognition Program emphasizing the benefits achieved by the program in its recognition of employees. A copy will be furnished to the local union. The Commander, designated representative or supervisor recognizes employees and presents awards at a suitable ceremony.
Id. Section 15.04 further requires that: (1) certain information concerning the awards program will be furnished upon request to the local union; (2) supervisors will give employees fair consideration for awards; and (3) all cash awards that have been approved in accordance with regulation will be paid to the employee.
On March 6, 1992, the Union demanded mid-term negotiations "over the presentation of performance awards and the posting of awards information." Stipulation, paragraph 8. Specifically, the Union requested such bargaining over SSP awards. This demand to bargain was initiated by the Union and was unrelated to any changes in the conditions of employment of Respondent's employees. No specific proposals were submitted with the Union's demand to bargain. On May 8, 1992, the Respondent refused to bargain based on the holding in Social Security Administration v. FLRA, 956 F.2d 1280 (4th Cir. 1992) (SSA v. FLRA).(2)
The parties stipulated that the Union proposals are matters which would not be subject to bargaining under the legal analysis set forth in SSA v. FLRA, but are matters which would be subject to bargaining under the legal analysis set forth in Internal Revenue Service, 29 FLRA 162 (1987) (IRS).(3)
III. Positions of the Parties
A. The General Counsel
The General Counsel asserts that the Authority should continue to adhere to its holding in IRS. Therefore, the General Counsel contends that, under the legal analysis set forth in IRS, the Respondent violated the Statute when it failed to bargain with the Union.
B. The Respondent
The Respondent contends that the Union did not have a right to demand mid-term negotiations. The Agency argues that such a right is not supported by: (1) the language of the parties' agreement; (2) legislative history and appropriate statutory interpretation; and (3) the policies the Statute was enacted to perpetuate. As to the latter two premises, the Respondent asserts that the Authority should adopt the Fourth Circuit Court's decision in SSA v. FLRA.
The Respondent also contends that Article 15 specifically addresses performance recognition and SSP awards, the subject of the Union's demand for mid-term negotiations. The Respondent asserts that it should not be forced to bargain again on this subject after bargaining over Article 15.
The Respondent further argues that Article 34 of the parties' MLA, entitled "Local Supplements to the Master Agreement," does not authorize mid-term bargaining on the subject of SSP awards with the Union and that any agreement on the subject would be null and void.
IV. Analysis and Conclusions
First, we reject the Respondent's reliance on SSA v. FLRA. The Authority has not adopted that decision and, instead, adheres to the holding in IRS. See, for example, Social Security Administration, Tucson District Office, Tucson, Arizona, 47 FLRA No. 99 (1993).
Nevertheless, we conclude that the Respondent was not obligated to bargain because, as discussed below, the bargaining demand concerned matters that were contained in or covered by the parties' agreement. In U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Social Security Administration, Baltimore, Maryland, 47 FLRA No. 96 (1993) (SSA), we set forth a framework for determining whether proposals are covered by a provision in an existing agreement. We stated, as relevant here, that in making such a determination we will first look to whether the express language of the agreement provision reasonably encompasses the subject matter of the proposals. In this examination, we will not require "an exact congruence of [the] language, but will find the requisite similarity if a reasonable reader would conclude that the provision settles the matter in dispute." Id., slip op. at 15 (citation omitted). Second, if the agreement provision does not expressly encompass the matter, we will determine whether the subject matter proposed for negotiations is so commonly considered an aspect of the matter set forth in the agreement that the subject is "'inseparably bound up with and . . . plainly an aspect of . . . a subject expressly covered by the contract.'"