50:0378(57)CA - - VA Medical Center, St. Louis, MO and AFGE, Local 96 - - 1995 FLRAdec CA - - v50 p378



[ v50 p378 ]
50:0378(57)CA
The decision of the Authority follows:


50 FLRA No. 57

FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY

WASHINGTON, D.C.

_____

DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS

MEDICAL CENTER

ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI

(Respondent)

and

AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES

LOCAL 96

(Charging Party/Union)

DE-CA-40228

_____

DECISION AND ORDER

May 3, 1995

_____

Before the Authority: Phyllis N. Segal, Chair; Tony Armendariz and Pamela Talkin, Members.

I. Statement of the Case

This unfair labor practice case is before the Authority in accordance with 5 C.F.R. § 2429.1 based on a stipulation of facts by the parties, who have agreed that no material issue of fact exists. The General Counsel filed a brief with the Authority. The Respondent did not file a brief.

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 unilaterally changed conditions of employment of bargaining unit employees by terminating its Employee of the Month Award program (the award program) without giving the Union prior notice and an opportunity to bargain over the substance and the impact and implementation of the decision to terminate the program. For the following reasons, we find that the Respondent violated the Statute as alleged.

II. Facts

The Veterans Affairs Council, American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO (AFGE) is the exclusive representative of a nationwide consolidated bargaining unit of employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Union is the agent of AFGE for purposes of representing the Respondent's bargaining unit employees.

From at least 1989 until November 1993, the Respondent conducted the award program, under which selected employees, including bargaining unit employees, received an award of one hundred dollars, a certificate honoring the recipient, and a parking space located close to the Medical Center facility. On or about November 17, 1993, the Respondent unilaterally terminated the program, without giving the Union prior notice of and an opportunity to bargain over the substance and the impact and implementation of that decision.

III. Positions of the Parties

A. General Counsel

The General Counsel asserts that the Respondent violated the Statute because it unilaterally implemented changes in conditions of employment without first notifying the Union and affording it an opportunity to bargain. The General Counsel contends that the award program is a condition of employment under the test set forth in Antilles Consolidated Education Association and Antilles Consolidated School System, 22 FLRA 235 (1986) (Antilles). The General Counsel also argues that the awards given under the program are a form of incentive awards, which the Authority has found are conditions of employment within the meaning of the Statute.

B. Respondent

As set forth in the parties' stipulation, the Respondent takes the position that the award program is not a condition of employment within the meaning of the Statute and, consequently, that it had no statutory duty to give the Union notice and an opportunity to bargain prior to implementing its decision to eliminate the program.

IV. Analysis and Conclusions

Under the Statute, the term "conditions of employment" is defined as "personnel policies, practices, and matters, whether established by rule, regulation, or otherwise, affecting working conditions . . . ." 5 U.S.C. § 7103(a)(14). The Authority applies the test set forth in Antilles to determine whether a matter involves a condition of employment. See, for example, American Federation of Government Employees, Local 1786 and U.S. Department of the Navy, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Marine Corps Base, Quantico, Virginia, 49 FLRA 534 (1994). Under the Antilles test, the Authority considers whether: (1) the matter pertains to bargaining unit employees; and (2) there is a direct connection between the matter and the work situation or employment relationship of bargaining unit employees. See American Federation of Government Employees, Local 2761, AFL-CIO v. FLRA, 866 F.2d 1443, 1446-49 (D.C. Cir. 1989).

We find that the award program meets the Antilles test. As to the first factor, the parties stipulated that the award program pertains to, among others, bargaining unit employees. As to the second factor, we note that employees who were given awards under the program received, among other things, a parking space located close to the facility. The Authority has held that providing parking spaces for employees and the distribution of parking spaces among employees are conditions of employment. For example, United States Immigration and Naturalization Service, 43 FLRA 3, 9 (1991). We find, therefore, that there is a direct connection between the award program and the employment relationship of bargaining unit employees. Accordingly, the award program is a condition of employment within the meaning of the section 7103(a)(14) of the Statute(*) and the Respondent was obligated to bargain over the substance of its decision to terminate the award program, as well as the impact and implementation of that decision. As noted above, the parties stipulated that the Respondent unilaterally terminated the program without giving the Union prior notice of and an opportunity to bargain over the substance and the impact and implementation of that decision.

Accordingly, we find that the Respondent violated section 7116(a)(1) and (5) of the Statute, as alleged in the complaint, and we will order an appropriate remedy.

V. 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 Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, St. Louis, Missouri shall:

1. Cease and desist from:

(a) Unilaterally terminating the Employee of the Month Award program, or making other changes in conditions of employment, without first notifying the American Federation of Government Employees, Local 96 and providing it with an opportunity to bargain over such changes.

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

2. Take the following affirmative action in order to effectuate the purposes and policies of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute:

(a) Restore the Employee of the Month Award program, as the program existed prior to November 17, 1993.

(b) Notify and, upon request, bargain with the American Federation of Government Employees, Local 96 concerning any changes in the Employee of the Month Award program, or any other changes in conditions of employment.

(c) Post at its facilities at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, St. Louis, Missouri, 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 Director of the Medical Center 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.

(d) Pursuant to section 2423.30 of the Authority's Rules and Regulations, notify the Regional Director, Denver Regional Office, Federal Labor Relations Authority, 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 EMPLOYEES THAT:

WE WILL NOT unilaterally terminate the Employee of the Month Award program, or make other changes in conditions of employment, without first notifying the American Federation of Government Employees, Local 96 and providing it with an opportunity to bargain over such changes.

WE WILL NOT in any like or related manner, interfere with, restrain, or coerce our employ