American Federation of Government Employees, Local 1547 (Union) and United States Department of the Air Force, Luke Air Force Base, Arizona (Agency)
[ v63 p174 ]
63 FLRA No. 70
OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES
DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE
LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, ARIZONA
DECISION AND ORDER
ON NEGOTIABILITY ISSUES
March 27, 2009
Before the Authority: Carol Waller Pope, Chairman and
Thomas M. Beck, Member
I. Statement of the Case
This case is before the Authority on a negotiability appeal filed by the Union under § 7105(a)(2)(E) of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (the Statute). The appeal involves the negotiability of two proposals concerning privacy protection for bargaining unit employee Social Security numbers and dates of birth. The Agency filed a statement of position (SOP). The Union filed a response, to which the Agency filed no reply. For the reasons that follow, we find that the proposals are within the Agency's duty to bargain.
The Agency implemented a new requirement that bargaining unit employees register their vehicles for on-base parking. In conjunction with this change, the parties negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). As relevant here, the MOU states:
1. Bargaining unit employee "Personal Information" as identified in the Privacy Act and the [Department of Defense] Privacy Program DoDD 5400.11 will be appropriately safe guarded.
2. Bargaining unit employees who do not wish to provide their [S]ocial [S]ecurity number and date of birth in order to register their vehicle and obtain vehicle decals will be required to provide their name, address, organization / section, supervisor's name, duty phone [number], and vehicle information.
Union's Response, MOU (Response), Attach. 2.
During negotiations for the MOU, the Union made two additional proposals related to the Social Security numbers and dates of birth of bargaining unit employees, over which the Agency refused to negotiate. Petition, Attach. 1. After receiving the Agency's written declaration of nonnegotiability regarding these two proposals, the Union filed the present petition for review.
With the exception of reasons required by law, bargaining unit employees will not be required to give their Social Security account numbers and birthdays to register their vehicles.
With the exception of reasons required by law, all bargaining unit employee Social Security account numbers and birthdays that are currently stored on the Security Forces Management Information Systems (SFMIS) and [Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS)] systems will be deleted.
Petition at 3, 5.
IV. Meaning of the Proposals
The parties agree that Proposal 1 would prohibit the Agency from requesting that employees provide their Social Security numbers or dates of birth to register for a parking decal, unless this information is required by law or government-wide regulation. Conference Report at 1. The Agency agrees that parking registrations could be processed with the alternate information listed in the MOU and that registration would not be denied if an employee's Social Security number and date of birth were not provided. Id. at 2.
The parties agree that Proposal 2 would require the Agency to remove certain personal information related to bargaining unit employees from two databases, except to the extent that it would be inconsistent with law or government-wide regulation. Id. Specifically, it would require that unit employee Social Security numbers and dates of birth be deleted from SFMIS, the Agency's security police computer system, and DEERS, [ v63 p175 ] a contractor database designed to maintain information about service member benefits and entitlements. Id., Petition at 5.
V. Positions of the Parties
The Agency contends that the proposals are not negotiable because they conflict with management's right to determine its internal security practices under § 7106(a)(1) of the Statute. According to the Agency, the proposals would interfere with the "collection of information, which the Agency has determined to be a part of their plan to secure and safeguard its personnel, physical property, and operations against internal and external risk." SOP at 2. The Agency argues that once it "shows a link or reasonable connection" between its internal security objective and its policy or practice, the merits or effectiveness of the plan are not subject to examination in a negotiability dispute. Id. at 1 (citing NTEU, 55 FLRA 1174, 1186 (1999) (Member Wasserman dissenting in relevant part)). The Agency also states that the proposals cannot "be considered a procedure or appropriate arrangement for the safeguarding of the information collected by the Agency." Id. at 2.
The Union asserts that the proposals would reduce the potential for identity theft by limiting access to the personal information of bargaining unit employees seeking to register their vehicles for on-base parking. Petition at 4, 5. The Union alleges that the Agency continues to request that employees provide their Social Security numbers and dates of birth to obtain parking decals despite the fact that it is not required under the MOU. Petition at 4; Response at 2. The Union also alleges that this information, which is protected by the Privacy Act, is stored in SFMIS and in DEERS. According to the Union, the individuals who have access to these two databases do not have a "need to know" the Social Security numbers and dates of birth of civilian employees. Petition at 5-6. Further, according to the Union, the Agency security police have demonstrated, in the issuance of parking tickets, that they do not adequately safeguard this information. Response at 4.
Regarding Proposal 1, the Union argues that the Agency has not established a "link" or "reasonable connection" between the collection of Social Security numbers and dates of birth for parking decals and its internal security practices. Id. at 2. The Union maintains that there is no legitimate reason for the Agency's security police and contractor gate guards to have access to employee Social Security numbers. Id. at 1-2. According to the Union, bargaining unit employees undergo extensive background checks and are issued sophisticated identification cards called "Common Access Cards" (CAC ID cards). Id. at 2. The Union argues that when bargaining unit employees show CAC ID cards, there is no doubt as to their identity. Id. The Union further argues that the Agency conceded that Social Security numbers and dates of birth are not necessary for processing parking decal requests by negotiating an MOU creating an alternate process for employees who do not want to provide this information. Id. The Union maintains that, because the Agency has other methods -- including CAC ID cards -- to confirm an employee's identity, and has made no showing of how the collection of Social Security numbers in the parking registration process is part of its internal security practices, it has not established a "reasonable connection" to a management right under § 7106(a)(1). Id. The Union also states that, after filing its petition and participating in the post-petition conference, it learned that the Air Force as a whole was planning to abandon the use of "base vehicle stickers" because of the mandatory "100% ID checks with the CAC ID cards[.]" Id. at 3-4 (citing Attach. 3, Bruce Rolfsen, Bases to stop issuing window decals for cars, Air Force Times, Feb. 12, 2007). The Union argues that this department-wide change is additional evidence that there is no "internal security" reason to request Social Security numbers and dates of birth from bargaining unit employees for parking decals. Id. at 4.
Regarding Proposal 2, the Union argues that there is no need to include Social Security numbers and dates of birth in the SFMIS and DEERS databases, which have no relation to civilian employee pay or payroll deductions. Id. at 2. The Union also alleges that the information in SFMIS, which is used by the Agency security police, is not appropriately safeguarded. In this regard, the Union states that the Agency's security police transmit this information over the radio so that street officers can inc