SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION BOSTON REGION BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS and LOCAL 1164, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO

 

 

In the Matter of

 

SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION

BOSTON REGION

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS

 

and

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Case No. 00 FSIP 112

LOCAL 1164, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO

ARBITRATOR'S OPINION AND DECISION

    Local 1164, American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), AFL-CIO (Union) filed a request for assistance with the Federal Service Impasses Panel (Panel) in a dispute arising from negotiations with the Social Security Administration (SSA), Boston Region, Boston, Massachusetts (Employer), over the implementation of an Immediate Claims Taking (ICT) unit at the Boston Teleservice Center. After due consideration of the request, the Panel determined that the impasse should be resolved through a mediation-arbitration procedure before the undersigned.

    Accordingly, a mediation-arbitration hearing was held on July 26 and 27, 2000, at the Employer’s place of business, 10 Causeway Street, Boston, Massachusetts. During the procedure, the parties were able to reach agreement on approximately 26 of the 35 outstanding issues.(1) When mediation efforts ended, a brief hearing was conducted during which the parties presented or identified their final offers on the remaining issues; the parties’ positions had been discussed at length during the mediation phase. While the Employer accepted the opportunity to submit a summary statement of position by close of business on Friday July 28, 2000, the Union declined the offer, preferring instead to rely on a similar statement submitted as part of its original request for Panel assistance. It was agreed that the Employer would not submit any new evidence with its statement.(2) The record is now closed and the Arbitrator has considered the full record developed during the Panel’s investigation and the mediation phase of this procedure in reaching the conclusions and award provided below.

BACKGROUND

    The Employer is responsible for administering retirement, Medicare, disability, survivor, and supplemental security income (SSI) entitlement programs. At the national level, AFGE represents approximately 49,000 employees in a nationwide, consolidated unit. Local 1164 represents approximately 1,300 bargaining-unit employees in 80 offices in 6 New England states. Affected employees will mainly be claims and service representatives (GS-5 through -11) at various Field Offices and teleservice representatives (GS-5 through -8) at Teleservice Centers. The parties at the national level executed a new master collective-bargaining agreement (MCBA) on April 6, 2000; at that level, the parties have an established partnership.

    The ICT unit is to provide an option to SSA 1-800 number callers, enabling them to file simple claims almost immediately. Calls to Teleservice Centers will be screened to determine whether the claimant: (1) is currently eligible to file certain claims and (2) wishes to speak to another representative to file that claim immediately. If both questions are answered in the affirmative, the claimant will be connected to a claims representative in an ICT unit who will take the claim on the spot. The national-level parties reached agreement on a pilot ICT program in 1998 that established a number of ICT units nationwide. On April 6, 2000, again at the national level, agreement was reached to roll-out the pilot (the National ICT Roll-Out MOU) to additional locations throughout the country, including an ICT unit at the Boston Teleservice Center.(3)

    The new Boston ICT unit will be located on the 8th floor of the O’Neill Federal Building in downtown Boston. The rectangular space, with windows along one side of the longer dimension, was formerly occupied by the SSA regional training facility. A training room under the jurisdiction of the Boston District Office and a Video Conference Room under the jurisdiction of the Boston Regional Office will adjoin the ICT unit. Some other offices are located on the same floor. On the first floor of the building is an SSA District Office and a Teleservice Center: the former assists walk-in claimants; the latter provides assistance to the public through the 1-800 telephone number referenced above. Two or three other SSA components are located in the building. Building security includes guards and metal detectors located at the main entrance.

ISSUES AT IMPASSE

    The parties were unable to resolve nine issues relating to the implementation of the ICT unit that concern: (1) the floor plan or layout for the ICT unit, including the location of equipment and locking doors [Article V, Sections B2 and B5, and the floor plan];(4) (2) selection procedures for certain colors (paint, furniture panel, carpet, etc.), heights (panel and writing surface), and right or left-handed workstations [Article V, Sections A5, C4, and C6]; (3) the ICT office business address [Article V, Section D7]; (4) reasonable access to the video conference room [Article VI, Section 7]; and (5) a general reopener [Article VII, Section 3].

The Positions of the Parties

A. The Union’s Position

The Union proposals are as follows:

The CR work units, file cabinets, printers, photocopiers, bookcases and tables will be located as shown on the attached floor plan. [Article V, Section B2]

There will be two designated employee entrances (Doors #1 & 2 on the floor plan). These doors will be sturdy steel construction or solid wood with steel sheathing. Each shall be equipped with panic hardware, peep hole and push button combination type lock capable of being opened with one hand. [Article V, Section B5]

Management and an ICT unit Union representative designated by the Union will, by mutual agreement, select the paint colors, rug colors, fabric panel colors, wood stain, tile, etc. for the ICT unit. The parties will also decide on the counter top and cabinets for the multipurpose room. Management will convey all samples for the above selections to the ICT unit Union representative as they become available to the Union. [Article V, Section A5]

The agency intends to complete selection of employees for the ICT unit prior to installation of systems furniture. Prior to the furniture installation week, the panel hung writing surfaces will be installed at the height determined by the individual employee. Employees will be allowed to select a left or right side handed model of the electronically adjustable work surface. [Article V, Section C4]

Within available ranges, ICT unit employees will select panel heights. [Article V, Section C6]

The agency agrees to obtain a post office box address for return of claims forms and related documents. It is not anticipated that claimants or other members of the public will make business related visits to the ICT unit. Appropriate security and sufficient advance notice to the Union will be provided prior to any such visits. [Article V, Section D7]

The Union, and all bargaining unit members, will have reasonable access to the video conference room for appropriate purposes when not in use for legitimate agency business. Management agrees not to artificially limit access to this area. Employees using the area will be expected to keep it free from litter. [Article VI, Section 7]

Either party may reopen this agreement one year after the effective date of this agreement. In order to exercise the re-opener provision, the chief negotiator for either party, or their designee, must notify the chief negotiator of the other party no earlier than thirty (30) days prior to the one year anniversary of the effective date and no later than seven (7) days after the one year anniversary of the effective date. [Article VII, Section 3]

In its floor plan, the Union proposes that the two workstations for trainers assigned to the regional training facility be located along the right side of the interior hallway linking the main outside corridor with the ICT unit space. The entrance to the stock room is also in that part of the hallway. Secured door number 1 for the ICT unit should be located on the right at the top end of the same hallway.(5)

    Wording identical to the Union’s proposal "has been used by the parties in numerous local negotiations involving [the installation of] systems furniture and/or office relocation floor plans." Basically, by practice, the Union has the right to determine the various colors of materials used in the space, workstation panel heights, desk heights, and number of left-handed workstations. The Union polls affected employees to determine their preferences; it presents the color and other choices of the majority to the Employer during bargaining.(6) This process has led to sound office design in the New England region. Furthermore, the Employer is bound by these procedures. In this regard, section 10 of the National ICT Roll-Out MOU clearly provides that standard procedures for floor plan approval must be followed.(7) Section 12 of that agreement simply strengthens this view.(8)

    The Employer’s desire to deviate from the standard practice so that the furniture can be ordered quickly is specious. Management typically takes that position in bargaining over space-related matters, often because a lease has been signed for the new location. In this instance, the space is already under SSA control. The delay in ordering the furniture until all 16 applicants have been selected for the ICT unit is reasonable to permit the Union to poll all regarding their preferences. This decision should not ignore that employees may work in these offices for their entire careers and should be granted this measure of control over their working environment.(9) Taking a bit more time now to ensure that employees’ interests are met will pay dividends in the long run. The Employer’s concept of ordering left-handed workstations based on the proportion of left-handed adults in the population, 15 percent, is undesirable. That method could result in too few or too many left-handed workstations; by past history, the Employer cannot be expected to replace these with the appropriate models. Employees also must be permitted to indicate the correct writing surface height for their panel hung work surface so that repetitive stress injuries can be avoided; "proper . . . heights cannot be ascertained until ICT unit employees are chosen." Variations like higher or lower spine panels(10) affect the level of privacy in an employee’s work space; employees’ opinions differ, so they should be given the option of designating their preferred heights.

    There is no dispute that entry to the ICT unit should be controlled, and the parties have already agreed to two locked doors; they should be those most immediate to the ICT unit space, as indicated on the floor plan. In addition, the address provided to the public should be limited to a post office box number. This will ensure that claimants do not attempt to visit the office which is not intended for face-to-face interviewing. Furthermore, the office has no reception counter or security guard to protect employees from possible intrusions. Even if no room number is given with the ICT unit’s address, a street address or building name must not be provided to claimants. Such information would prompt some claimants to seek out the ICT office. Even though the Employer’s proposal does not specify a room number, a harassed receptionist in the SSA District Office might direct a claimant to the ICT unit.(11) A box number, with no clues concerning the unit’s location is the best way to ensure employees’ safety from irate claimants.

    As to the video conference room located adjacent to the ICT unit space, the Union and bargaining-unit employees should be able to use that space when its use would not interfere with legitimate business needs. SSA is phasing out more expensive training centers like the one previously occupying the ICT unit space. In their place, video conference rooms are being installed when offices are renovated or relocated. The Union has entered into a number of agreements that contain wording identical to that proposed here regarding access to video conference rooms.(12) Such access is warranted based on experience at other offices. It is often difficult to find space where a Union representative and a bargaining-unit employee can privately discuss a problem that might become a grievance. Other circumstances also justify granting access to the space. One example is an employee adjusting to a chronic, but not debilitating, illness who needs a quiet space for a few moments. The multipurpose room at the right end of the ICT unit space is not suitable since it will be frequented throughout the day by other employees. The Regional Training Room is also more likely than not to be occupied by classes and, therefore, unavailable. That room is subject to long term use because classes are sometimes scheduled over a number of days or weeks. The Employer’s contention that the video conference room is not suitable because it may contain confidential materials and is scheduled and controlled by an office located elsewhere in Boston is unpersuasive; the video conference room is contiguous to the ICT unit and represents an asset to unit employees.

    With respect to the need for a reopener, since this is the first ICT unit in the Boston Region, "unforseen developments" may arise. It is, therefore, prudent to permit either party to reopen bargaining to deal with such developments.

b. The Employer’s Position

The Employer proposes the following wording:

Management will obtain samples of the paint, stain, tiles, counter top, cabinet material and rug selections and will provide them to the representative designated by the Union. The Union representative will deliver the selections to management within 10 days from the point that the Union representative is provided the SIN selection list. At that time, the Union representative will deliver to management the standard panel height, panel colors, and number of left and right hand units. [Article V, Section A5]

The Agency will use the following address for return of claims forms and related documents to the ICT unit: SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, BOX C98, 10 CAUSEWAY ST., BOSTON, MA 02222. It is not anticipated that claimants or other members of the public will make business-related visits to the ICT unit. Employees will not be required to divulge the physical location of the ICT unit if asked by the public. [Article V, Section D7]

The ICT bargaining unit will have reasonable access to the Boston Training Facility for appropriate purposes (excluding food or drink) when not in use for Agency business. When the Boston Training Facility is not available, the Videoconference Room will be made available on the same basis. Management agrees not to artificially limit access to this area. Employees using the area will be expected to keep it free from litter. [Article VI, Section 7]

    The Employer’s floor plan proposal differs from the Union’s in a number of ways. Regarding the T-shaped entry hall: (1) the top of the hall is much shorter on the Employer’s plan, consequently intruding less on ICT space; (2) the trainer’s workstations are on the left rather than the right side of the hall; and (3) the stockroom is moved to the right of the hallway with access inside the ICT unit space. The Employer proposes that the door at the outer, public corridor be secured door number 1 so that it serves both the ICT unit and the Regional Training Room. The Employer also proposes to accept the Union’s reopener with the following added wording: "Both parties agree not to reopen Article II [Staffing] and Article V [Office Layout Issues] except by mutual consent."

    While there are only a few differences between the parties’ floor plans, and most elements were developed by the Union, several features make the Union’s current proposal less desirable. From the perspective of security, the Union’s placing the cipher lock on an interior door raises safety concerns for "instructors and training classes" and to ICT unit employees who may need "to exit the facility quickly." Furthermore, ICT unit employees would have "to go through two locked doors every time they went through the main entrance" from the public corridor. In addition, providing access to the stockroom directly from the ICT unit space is more convenient than the interior hallway location that the Union proposes.

    Within the ICT space, the Union’s positioning of the multipurpose room door in the middle of the short wall could result in collisions when that swinging door opens unexpectedly into an employee’s path. Locating that door near the corner "minimizes the risk." The Union’s view that centering the door will leave room for future expansion does not overcome this objection. Should expansion become necessary, the space will have four extra workstations at start-up and more can be placed along the interior wall. Lastly, the Union’s measurements are faulty, giving the impression that there is more space for the stockroom that actually exists and it has provided a corridor width of only 4 feet near the interior doors, too narrow under Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards for Federal buildings.

    The Employer contends that "the National ICT Rollout MOU recognizes the parties’ sense of urgency to get all of the ICT units functional [by] the end of September 2000."(13) Before employees can begin taking telephone claims in the Boston ICT unit, walls must be constructed and furniture (workstations) must be ordered and installed. The furniture order, however, will be delayed until choices are made regarding the color, panel heights, and number of right or left-handed workstations. Under the Employer’s proposal, these choices, based on the views of the majority, could be made by mid-August when 14 of the 16 unit employees will be identified.(14) This would permit the ICT unit to begin functioning as early as December 2000.(15) By contrast, "the Union proposal would most likely push back Boston ICT unit implementation into the year 2001." This is because the Union’s procedure requires that all ICT unit employees be identified before it conducts "polling" to determine preferences. The identity of the other two unit employees, who will be selected by merit promotion, may not be known for 30 days or more. Waiting until all ICT unit employees are identified would unreasonably extend the time it takes to ready the space. On the other hand, opening the new unit expeditiously benefits the public by providing improved service more quickly and also benefits unit employees by adopting the preferences of the majority and effectuating their transfers and promotions sooner.

    On the issue of the business address for the ICT unit, the substation at 10 Causeway Street "has no delivery point that can be identified as a post office box." Since the address proposed "does not identify the ICT unit room number . . . it would not lead any member of the public to become aware of the ICT unit’s location in the building." Of concern, however, is the "hazards for ICT unit employees who would need to fetch and carry large volumes of mail through surrounding city streets." These conditions led other SSA offices in the building to abandon the use of a post office box in favor of direct delivery to the building.

    With respect to video conference room access, "the primary use . . . is for viewing and taping . . . national broadcasts." Access should be limited because, on some occasions, the broadcasts "contain confidential or restricted material such as Agency guidance to managers on labor-management subjects." The needs that the Union articulates can be met by using the multipurpose room and then the training room before the video conference room is considered. In effect, the Union is seeking "concessions" for a room that is adjacent, but not a part of the ICT unit space. The Union is also seeking to expand who would be granted access to that space beyond what is provided for in agreements at district offices over similar space. Bargaining-unit employees who work for other components in the building do not need access because they have their own facilities.

    Finally, given the limited scope of the ICT bargaining, the Union’s reopener proposal is overly broad. In particular, subjects such as the "floor plan, workstations and work environment and selection of staff should be bargained once." Moreover, other similar agreements do not contain reopeners.

CONCLUSION

    Having considered carefully the evidence and arguments presented by the parties, the Arbitrator is persuaded that the dispute should be resolved in the following manner. Turning first to the floor plan which includes the issue of where secured door number 1 should be located, the parties shall adopt the Employer’s floor plan proposal to resolve their impasse over these issues. In the Arbitrator’s view, the Employer’s placement of secured door number 1 adds a measure of safety for bargaining-unit employees by preventing casual entry from the public corridor to the interior hallway, especially when there will be no receptionist or security guard present. In addition, the design conserves space within the ICT unit because less square footage is devoted to the hallway and access to the supply room is more conveniently located within the ICT space. The Arbitrator is also persuaded that the multipurpose room door is less likely to cause injury in the corner location.

    Considering next the procedure to select fabric, rug, and wall colors, surface coverings (counter top, rugs, tile, etc.), and other furniture-related features, the Arbitrator directs the parties to adopt a modified version of the Employer’s proposal. Under the terms of this solution, the parties are to follow the selection procedure specified in the Employer’s final offer. With respect to left- and right-handed models, however, for those hired through merit promotion among the original 16 ICT unit employees, the Employer will obtain a left or right handed model of the electronically adjustable work surface, upon written request by the Union, when such units are not available in the office or already on order. In addition, the following sentence from Article V, Section C4, of the Union’s proposal also is adopted: "Prior to the furniture installation week, the panel hung writing surfaces will be installed at the height determined by the individual employee." The Arbitrator will add a sentence to clarify that the same adjustments are to be made for those among the original 16 ICT unit employees selected through merit promotions in the event that they are identified after furniture installation week.

    In the unique circumstances of this case, the Arbitrator is persuaded that the Employer’s final offer, as modified by this decision, appropriately balances the Employer’s interest in establishing the new unit as soon as possible with the Union’s interest in giving bargaining-unit employees a measure of control over their work environment. In the more typical situation, this compromise would not have been necessary since the Union would have arrived at the bargaining table with a tally listing the majority’s choices on all these items. Here, because bargaining-unit employees were not yet identified, the Union was unable to poll their preferences. Since in this Arbitrator’s view, normal procedures could not be undertaken, it is appropriate to deviate from such established procedures.(16) The chief differences between this award and the norm are that: (1) 2 of 16 unit employees will not be polled on their preferences and (2) the Union must provide the choice of the majority to the Employer within 10 days of receiving a list of employees to be reassigned to the unit. These variances from the established practice are justified to avoid delaying the opening of the ICT unit by a month or more. The modification addressing left-handed work surfaces ensures that all of the 16 ICT unit employees will be provided with furniture that fits their individual physical characteristics. The potential additional expense to the Employer, which was not raised during discussions of retrofitting, should its original furniture order include too few left-handed writing surfaces, should be more than offset by being able to open the ICT unit a month earlier. Inclusion of the Union’s wording, with modification, on writing surface heights is precautionary to ensure that appropriate adjustments are made. While not stated explicitly in the Employer’s proposal, the Arbitrator believes that the Employer’s intent is to adopt employees’ selections, as conveyed by the Union, without alteration.

    To resolve their dispute over the appropriate business address for the ICT unit, the parties shall adopt the Employer’s proposal. The Union’s concern that a claimant may mistakenly attempt to visit the ICT office in person is speculative. If such a claimant arrived at the District Office, the Union’s witness stated that the claim likely would be transferred to the District Office for processing. She clearly understood that the ICT unit was intended to deal with claims by telephone only and, therefore, any employee’s directing the claimant to the ICT unit would be inappropriate. Of greater concern from a security perspective, however, is the potential hazard connected to the daily task of retrieving the mail, a consequence of the Union’s proposal that mail be delivered to a post office box; other SSA offices reportedly attempted the same method, but later abandoned it as arduous. The Arbitrator is persuaded that employees will be better protected under the Employer’s proposal. Considerable evidence was presented during the mediation-arbitration procedure on existing security precautions at the O’Neill Federal Building. In this regard, all persons entering the building are subject to surveillance by the building’s guards and metal detectors and the ICT unit will be behind a locked door. Notwithstanding such measures, should a problem develop in this area, the reopener adopted below should provide the parties with a mechanism for addressing such concerns.

    As to video conference room access, the parties shall adopt the Employer’s proposal to resolve their dispute. In the Arbitrator’s view, the Employer’s final offer represents significant movement toward accommodating the Union’s expressed interest in this area. For a 17-person office, the availability of a 504 square foot multipurpose room, a 1,039 square foot training room, and as a last resort, the 385 square foot video conference room appears more than ample to meet appropriate needs of ICT bargaining-unit employees and the Union steward or other Union official who represents them. It is not apparent, nor did the Union substantiate, why other SSA unit employees should be accommodated in space adjacent to the new ICT unit.

    Finally, regarding the 1-year reopener, the parties shall adopt the Union’s proposal to resolve their dispute on this issue. The question before the Arbitrator is not whether or not to include a reopener, but whether the reopener should be broad, as the Union proposes, or more limited as the Employer proposes. In this instance, the limitations the Employer proposes seem overly restrictive as the parties would be unable to revisit a number of issues, including those related to employees’ safety. Given that the unit is new to the region, the reopener may provide a useful mechanism for addressing unforeseen problems.

DECISION

    The parties shall adopt the following:

1.  Article V, Sections B2 and B5. Floor Plan

    The parties shall adopt the Employer’s floor plan.

2.  Article V, Sections A5, C4, and C6. Furniture-Related Choices

The parties shall adopt the following modified version of the Employer’s proposal:

Management will obtain samples of the paint, stain, tiles, counter top, cabinet material and rug selections and will provide them to the representative designated by the Union. The Union representative will deliver the selections to management within 10 days from the point that the Union representative is provided the SIN selection list. At that time, the Union representative will deliver to management the standard panel height, panel colors, and number of left and right hand units.

With respect to left and right handed models, for those among the original 16 ICT unit employees hired through merit promotion, the Employer will obtain a left or right handed model of the electronically adjustable work surface, upon written request by the Union, when such units are not available in the office or already on order.

Prior to the furniture installation week, the panel hung writing surfaces will be installed at the height determined by the individual employee. In the event that those among the original 16 selected through merit promotions are identified after furniture installation week, the same adjustments will be made for them.

3.  Article V, Section D4. ICT Business Address

    The parties shall adopt the Employer’s proposal.

4.  Article VI, Section 7. Access to the Video Conference Room

    The parties shall adopt the Employer’s proposal.

5.  Article VII, Section 3. Reopener

The parties shall adopt the Union’s proposal.

Ellen J. Kolansky

Arbitrator

August 11, 2000

Washington, D.C.

1. The Employer orally accepted nine Union proposals during the initial investigation into the case, but none of these “agreements” were signed. During the mediation-arbitration procedure, the parties signed off on seven of these items. Other issues that were settled voluntarily included filling initial ICT vacancies by a combination of reassignments and merit promotions, granting the Union access to the construction site, controlling vacuuming noise, surveying the fire warning system, placing Union bulletin boards at two locations, and deferring workflow related issues to local bargaining.

2. During a conference call with the parties on July 31, 2000, the parties agreed that the undersigned would not consider the video programming schedule submitted by the Employer with its summary statement.

3. The National ICT Roll-Out MOU provides for a staffing level of 16 at the Boston ICT unit.

4. The parties have reached agreement over the wording for Sections B2 and B5, but some aspects of the floor plan, including the location of secured door number 1, remain in dispute. There is no disagreement over the location of secured door number 2. Regarding the floor plan, the parties have agreed that 20 workstations will be arranged back to back, so that 10 will open toward the long window wall and 10 toward the long interior wall. Two aisle ways will divide the workstations into groups of six, eight, and six, respectively. The supervisor’s workstation will be located along the short wall nearest the office entrance, and face employee workstations.

5. In both parties’ proposals, the door to the training facility is located to the left, opposite to the ICT entrance. The Union’s plan shows the regional training facility, the video conference room, and a stock room to the far left, beyond the ICT space.

6. To substantiate its position, the Union submitted a copy of an August 29, 1995, survey of employee preferences relating to the installation of systems furniture in the SSA Holyoke District Office. Item 3 of the survey asked employees to indicate their color choice for work station panels. Item 4 asked for preferences regarding panel heights, and how employees should be grouped. A systems furniture and relocation agreement, dated December 12, 1996, involving the Worcester SSA District Office, contains provisions on panel fabric color, the number of left-handed MA-95 work station models, and polling employees the week prior to installation about the heights they prefer for writing surfaces.

7. Section 10 reads: “The parties at the local level will comply with established procedures for floor plan approval.”

8. Section 12 states: “Consistent with 5 USC 71 and the National Agreement, nothing in this agreement waives the rights of the Union, the employees or the Agency.”

9. During the procedure, a Boston District Office employee discussed the importance of such input from employees. She stated that employees are at work more than they are at home and so should be able to make selections for the work site. She also indicated that employees were polled in her office about colors, panel heights, and other preferences.

10. A spine panel is a perpendicular panel from which the horizontal working surfaces are hung.

11. The same Boston District Office employee stated that, should a claimant arrive with proof, the claim could be transferred to the District Office for handling. She appeared to doubt that a receptionist would direct such an individual to the ICT unit, thought, when pressed, stated that result was possible. She knew, however, that this would be inappropriate since the ICT unit will take claims only by telephone.

12. During the procedure, the Union presented copies of two agreements that contain nearly identical wording to what it proposes in the instant case. One is a May 5, 2000, agreement arising from bargaining over the relocation of the Concord District Office. The