DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, GEORGIA and LOCAL 2317, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO

United States of America

BEFORE THE FEDERAL SERVICE IMPASSES PANEL

In the Matter of

DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY

MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE

ALBANY, GEORGIA

and

LOCAL 2317, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF

GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO

Case No. 01 FSIP 125

 

DECISION AND ORDER

    Local 2317, American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO (Union) filed a request for assistance with the Federal Service Impasses Panel (Panel) to consider a negotiation impasse under the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute, 5 U.S.C. § 7119, between it and the Department of the Navy, Marine Corps Logistics Base, Albany, Georgia (Employer).

    Following an investigation of the request for assistance, arising from negotiations over the amount of administrative leave authorized for employees to donate blood, the Panel determined that the dispute should be resolved through an informal conference by telephone with a Panel representative, to be preceded by single, written submissions. The parties were informed that if no settlement were reached, the Panel representative would notify the Panel of the status of the dispute, including the parties’ final offers and her recommendations for resolving the impasse. The Panel would then take whatever action it deemed appropriate to resolve the impasse, which could include the issuance of a Decision and Order.

    In accordance with the Panel’s determination, the parties submitted written statements, and on August 8, 2001, Panel Representative (Labor Relations Specialist) June M. Marshall held an informal conference, by telephone, with the parties; however, they were unable to reach an agreement. Ms. Marshall has reported to the Panel, and it has now considered the entire record, including the parties’ positions and her recommendations for how the dispute should be resolved.

BACKGROUND

    The Employer’s overall mission is to furnish supplies for the Marine Corps forces and to forces which are part of the Atlantic fleet. The mission of the Maintenance Center, a division within the Marine Corps Logistics Base, is to provide maintenance and complete rebuilds of all ground weapons and ground weapons support systems. The Union represents approximately 2,000 employees who typically work as aircraft mechanics, heavy mobile equipment mechanics, maintenance mechanics, and in logistics management, at grades WG-4 though -8 and GS-4 through -12. The parties’ collective bargaining agreement appears to have expired on August 13, 2001.

ISSUE AT IMPASSE

    The parties essentially disagree over the amount of administrative leave employees should be permitted to take to donate blood at the local community blood donation site.

POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES

1. The Union’s Position

    The Union proposes the following wording:

(1) Command sponsored blood donation drives be discontinued. Employee donations may be made two (2) times a year at a local community blood collection facility or hospital. Up to four (4) hours for each donating period for the purpose of donating blood subject to workload requirements and availability of employees to perform production requirements. Additional time may be granted on an individual basis. Supervisors will be responsible for determining the availability of administrative time for blood donations; and (2) Individual employees are responsible for making their appointment to donate blood. Requests for administrative leave to donate blood will be made at least two (2) days in advance of the scheduled appointment. The following day, the individual employee will be responsible for providing his/her supervisor a certificate certifying the employee donated blood.

The Union is seeking to return to the policy that existed from 1991 to 1998 whereby supervisors could approve requests by employees for up to 4 hours of administrative leave to donate blood.(1) The Employer’s proposal is unnecessary because supervisors have always had the authority and discretion to determine whether an employee can be released from duty for the purpose of donating blood and, if released, the duration of such approved leave. If supervisors are not exercising their discretion properly, the Employer should provide them with additional supervisory training.

    In an effort to reduce costs, the Union has worked with the Employer to eliminate "command sponsored" blood drives; this change imposes a burden on employees by requiring them to drive to the donation site. If, as the Employer asserts, there has been a decrease in workload, its concerns should already have been met. In this regard, a decrease in workload would mean a decrease in the number of employees at the installation, which in turn means a decrease in the number of employees requesting approved leave to donate blood. Finally, the Employer appears to focus only on the needs of the Maintenance Center, one-half of the bargaining unit, when the interests of all bargaining-unit employees on the Marine Corps Logistics Base should be considered.

2. The Employer’s Position

    The Employer proposes the following:

(1) The parties encourage employees to participate in blood donor programs in the local community. To this end, employees may be excused, workload permitting, from duty without charge to leave for the last one-and-one-half hours of their shift for the purpose of donating blood; (2) Responsibility for scheduling appointments for donations rests with the employee making the donation. Upon return to duty, the employee must provide their supervisors with acceptable proof that blood was donated. If the employee was unable or ineligible the absence will be charged to annual leave or leave without pay, as requested by the employee; and (3) Employees may be granted this excused absence not more than four times per calendar year.

The primary reason for lowering the amount of administrative leave that may be approved is to reduce "composite rate" costs.(2) In this connection, "lost revenue as a result of command quarterly sponsored blood drives has exceeded $1 million." Since the Maintenance Center’s funding is fee based, reducing the amount of administrative leave reduces costs to the customer, thereby making the Center more competitive. Reducing the amount of approved leave to donate blood to 1½ hours at the end of the work day will accomplish the goal of "considerably" decreasing overhead costs.(3) In addition, the proposal reasonably accommodates those employees wishing to donate blood by giving them sufficient time to drive to the donation site, donate blood, and depart from the center within the work day. Further, given its data on the number of times a person may donate blood per year, four opportunities per year is reasonable.(4) Lastly, the Union’s position to maintain the previous policy of granting up to 4 hours of excused absence for each donating period represents a "perquisite" that is incidental to the activity of donating blood. Since the American Red Cross requires blood donors to be volunteers, the "benefit" of extra time beyond what is needed to donate blood is not justified.

CONCLUSIONS

    Having carefully reviewed the evidence and arguments presented in support of the parties’ positions, we conclude that the Union’s proposal to permit employees up to 4 hours of administrative leave twice a year to donate blood provides the more reasonable basis for resolving the dispute. Preliminarily, we note that the parties’ latest offers regarding the total amount of administrative leave that each employee could be granted for donating blood are now down to what appears to be a relatively minor difference of 2 hours per year (the total of 6 hours under the Employer’s approach versus 8 hours under the Union’s). In addition, in our view the Employer has not demonstrated a need to reduce the amount of administrative leave from the 4 hours it accorded employees under the 1991-1998 policy. In this regard, most of the Employer’s cost claims are conclusory in nature and unsupported by any evidence as to the actual number of employees who have received administrative leave to donate blood, or even the total amount of such leave that was granted over a specified time period. Without actual evidence regarding past use of administrative leave for this purpose, the Employer’s claim that previous blood drives have resulted in $1 million of lost revenue appears to be without foundation. While the previous policy undoubtedly had some negative impact on the Maintenance Center’s productivity, there is no basis for concluding that it is anywhere near what the Employer contends. In the absence of more persuasive data, any negative impact appears to be offset by the benefit a continuation of the past practice would provide in promoting the Federal Government’s efforts to motivate employees to participate in the voluntary activity of donating blood. Finally, the Union’s proposal also appropriately contains wording which preserves supervisors’ authority and discretion to determine if an employee may be released from duty to donate blood. For these reasons, we shall order the adoption of the Union’s proposal.

ORDER

    Pursuant to the authority vested in it by the Federal Service Labor-Management Statute, 5 U.S.C. § 7119, and because of the failure of the parties to resolve their dispute during the course of proceedings instituted under the Panel’s regulations, 5 C.F.R. § 2471.6(a)(2), the Federal Service Impasses Panel under 5 C.F.R. § 2471.11(a) of its regulations hereby orders the following:

    The parties shall adopt the Union’s proposal.

 

By direction of the Panel.

H. Joseph Schimansky

Executive Director

September 19, 2001

Washington, D.C.

 

1.In November 1998, by base bulletin, the Employer notified employees of its new policy to authorize only up to 1 hour of administrative leave. The Union filed an unfair labor practice (ULP) charge on February 23, 1999, alleging that the Employer violated 5 U.S.C. § 7116(a)(1) and (5) by implementing the policy without giving the Union an opportunity to negotiate. The discussions over this matter resulted in a ULP settlement which was executed on July 20, 2000, where the Union agreed to withdraw its ULP charge and the Employer agreed to afford the Union an opportunity to negotiate over the matter.

2.The “composite rate” includes all costs associated with employee labor.

3.In its written submission, the Employer provided the Panel with graphs showing, among other things, a projected decrease in new orders, increase in the composite rate, and an increase in productive yield (or billable hours) per fiscal year. In support of its proposal, the Employer supplied a chart showing that, assuming 50 participants, the estimated lost revenue for 1 hour of approved leave, 4 times per year (an earlier Employer proposal) would be $16,912. Under the Employer’s assumptions, it estimates that an earlier Union proposal of 4 hours, 4 times per year, would cost the Employer approximately $67,648. If more than 50 employees request administrative leave to donate blood, these amounts would increase.