53:1622(143)NG - - NAGE Local R5-168 and Army, Fork Polk, LA - - 1998 FLRAdec NG - - v53 p1622
[ v53 p1622 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:
53 FLRA No. 143
FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
FORT POLK, LOUISIANA
DECISION AND ORDER ON A NEGOTIABILITY ISSUE
March 27, 1998
Before the Authority: Phyllis N. Segal, Chair; Donald S. Wasserman and Dale Cabaniss, Members.
I. Statement of the Case
This case is before the Authority on a negotiability appeal filed by the Union under section 7105(a)(2)(E) of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (the Statute), and concerns the negotiability of one proposal. For the reasons that follow, we find that the proposal relates to the classification of positions and is not within the duty to bargain, because section 7103(a)(14)(B) of the Statute excludes matters relating to classification from the definition of "conditions of employment." Since collective bargaining extends only to "conditions of employment," classification matters are not within scope of bargaining.
All mechanics in the Combat Vehicle/Special Purpose Equipment Section, Mission Equipment Support Section, and Prepositioned Equipment Support Section will be WG-5803-10.
III. Positions of the Parties
A. The Agency
The Agency asserts that the Union's proposal is not within the duty to bargain for several reasons. Specifically, the Agency contends that this proposal relates to the classification of positions, which is excluded from the definition of conditions of employment pursuant to section 7103(a)(14)(B). The Agency also asserts that this proposal is inconsistent with Federal law, 5 U.S.C. § 5346(b), and Government-wide regulation, 5 C.F.R. § 532.601. Additionally, the Agency maintains that this proposal violates management's rights to determine the organization of the agency under section 7106(a)(1) and assign work under section 7106(a)(2)(B).
B. The Union
The Union asserts that the Agency's arguments are without merit. The Union contends that this proposal concerns the types and grades of employees assigned to a work project within organizational subdivisions and, thus, concerns a matter within section 7106(b)(1).
IV. Analysis and Conclusions
A. Background and Meaning of the Proposal
The Union filed a grievance claiming that WG-5803-8 mechanics in the Directorate of Logistics, Maintenance Division, were performing WG-10 work. In response, the Agency conducted audits on the WG-8 positions and also on WG-10 mechanic positions. The Agency determined that the proper grade for the WG-8 mechanics was at the WG-9 level and announced action to promote those employees. The Agency also notified the Union that as a consequence of the audit, it was changing ten positions from WG-5803-10 to WG-5803-09, eight positions from WL-5803-10 to WL-5823-09, and 34 positions from WG-5803-10 to WG-5823-09.(1) The Union requested bargaining and submitted the above proposal.
As written, this proposal requires that the Agency designate "all" mechanics in the specified sections as WG-5803-10. It is not clear from the record whether the Union intends this proposal to apply only to those positions that were WG-10 prior to the audit or also to those positions that were WG-8 prior to the audit. Because the disposition of this proposal would be the same whether it applies to the WG-8 or WG-10 positions, the Union's intent in this regard is irrelevant to our decision in this case.
B. This Proposal Relates to the Classification of a Position
Section 7103(a)(14)(B) of the Statute excludes policies, practices, and matters "relating to the classification of any position" from the definition of conditions of employment. Generally, the Authority relies on definitions that pertain to classification within the general schedule pay system in construing "classification" for purposes of applying section 7103(a)(14)(B). See, e.g., International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, Local 49 and U.S. Department of the Army, Army Corps of Engineers, South Pacific Division, San Francisco, California, 52 FLRA 665, 667-68 (1996). In the context of the general schedule pay system, classification entails the identification of the appropriate title, series, grade and pay system of a position. See id. at 668.
The employees to whom this proposal applies are mechanics and, hence, are covered by the prevailing rate system. See 5 C.F.R. § 5342(a)(2). The Authority has held that section 7103(a)(14)(B) applies to the prevailing rate system. See American Federation of Government Employees, Local 1978 and U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, Lower Colorado Regional Office, Boulder City, Nevada, 51 FLRA 637, 643-44 (1995),(2) Order Granting Motion for Reconsideration as to other matters, November 6, 1996. See also American Federation of Government Employees, Local 3295 and U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Thrift Supervision, 47 FLRA 884, 902 (1993), aff'd as to other matters, 46 F.3d 73 (D.C. Cir. 1995) (Authority rejected union's claim that the term "classification," as used in the Statute, is limited to classification that is accomplished pursuant to a position-classification plan established by the Office of Personnel Management under chapter 51 of title 5 United States Code).
Because this proposal identifies the series, 5803, and the grade, 10, into which the specifi