DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS FEDERAL CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA and LOCAL 1570, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO

United States of America

BEFORE THE FEDERAL SERVICE IMPASSES PANEL

 

In the Matter of

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS

FEDERAL CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA

and

LOCAL 1570, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF

GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO

Case No. 90 FSIP 28

 

DECISION AND ORDER

Local, 1570 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 section 7119 of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (Statute) between it and the Department of Justice, Federal Correctional Institution, Tallahassee, Florida (Employer).

After investigation of the request for assistance, the Panel directed the parties to meet informally with Staff Associate Namsoo M. Dunbar for the purpose of assisting them in resolving any outstanding issues. If no settlement were reached, he was to notify the Panel of the status of the dispute, including the parties' final offers and his recommendations for resolving the issues. Following consideration of this information, the Panel would take whatever action it deemed appropriate to resolve the impasse.

During negotiations, the parties reached a tentative agreement; however, it was not ratified by a quorum of the Union membership. On February 7, 1990, Mr. Dunbar met with the parties at the Employer's facility at Tallahassee, Florida. A second tentative agreement was reached during the meeting which also was subject to ratification. Subsequently, it too was not ratified and, therefore, the issue remains unresolved. Thereafter, Mr. Dunbar reported to the Panel, and it has now considered the entire record

 

BACKGROUND

The Employer's mission is to incarcerate persons convicted of Federal offenses. There are approximately 215 bargaining-unit employees at the Tallahassee institution. The majority are General Schedule employees holding positions such as correctional officer, counselor, teacher, treatment specialist, and clerical support personnel; there are also Wage Board employees who work as cooks, electricians, welders, and plumbers. All are part of a nationwide consolidated bargaining unit of approximately 10,000 employees covered by a master collective-bargaining agreement between the American Federation of Government Employees' Council of Prison Locals and the Federal Bureau of Prisons which expires on August 31, 1991. At the local level, the parties continue to operate under the terms and conditions of a supplemental agreement which was to expire on September 1, 1989.

The dispute herein arose as a result of negotiations over a new supplemental agreement. The parties were successful in reaching agreement on all provisions contained therein with the exception of the scheduling of annual leave. Although the impasse resulted from a dispute over how the approximately 95 correctional officers should schedule their annual leave, all bargaining-unit employees located at this facility would be covered by the scheduling procedure. Currently, all employees, by departments, schedule their earned and projected annual leave based strictly on their seniority status.(1)

ISSUE AT IMPASSE

The issue concerns the extent to which seniority should control the scheduling of earned and projected annual leave.

1. The Union's Position

The Union proposes that the current longstanding practice or selecting annual leave based strictly on seniority should be maintained. Under this procedure, the senior employee could select all of his or her earned and projected leave for the year, followed by the next most senior employee, in descending order to the junior employee. Normally, leave could not be taken in durations exceeding 2 consecutive weeks.

The Union contends that seniority is gained by all employees in an objective manner; as such, it alone should serve as the basis for determining which employees should have priority in selecting annual leave. Furthermore, the Union asserts that selecting when to use annual leave is one of the few conditions of employment where employees "enjoy a significant degree of control." All employees over time would enjoy enhanced scheduling-of-annual-leave rights by virtue of their increased seniority.

 

2. The Employer's Position

Under the Employer's proposal, annual leave would be selected in three rounds according to seniority. During the first round of selection, the senior employee could choose any 2 weeks, with the next most senior employee making the next selection. Selections would proceed by seniority in descending order to the junior employee. A second round then would progress starting again with the senior employee in which another 2 weeks of leave could be chosen. A third and final round would be conducted beginning once more with the senior employee in which all remaining leave could be selected. No more than 2 consecutive weeks of leave could be taken except when approved by the Chief Executive Officer.

The proposal pays some deference to an employee's seniority status while limiting the amount of leave which could be scheduled per round to enhance the opportunity for all employees to use annual leave during preferred times of the year. Moreover, because of a shrinking labor market, the Employer currently is experiencing recruitment and retention problems with respect to correctional officers. By law, correctional officers must retire at age 55 because they perform hazardous duties. Consequently, the Employer cannot hire anyone over age 35 due to minimum time-in-service retirement requirements. Typically, employees under 35 have young children with whom they wish to spend their vacations during the times of the year most in demand for using annual leave, e.g., holidays and the summer. Thus, the existing inequities concerning leave could be alleviated by affording less senior correctional officers an opportunity to schedule at least some of their annual leave during these times. Finally, the Employer asserts that its facility is the only correctional institution within the Federal Bureau of Prisons where scheduling annual leave strictly by seniority still exists.

 

CONCLUSION

Having considered the entire record, we find that neither party's proposal should serve to resolve the dispute. In this regard, the Union's proposal fails to address the disadvantages to junior employees who, perennially, are preempted by their seniors from taking annual leave during the preferred times of the year. Moreover, the Employer's three-round procedure may overly diminish the value of employees' seniority status. Furthermore, since most senior employees have, at a minimum, approximately 4 weeks of projected annual leave available to schedule, restricting leave to 2-week increments per round may prevent them from scheduling all of their leave should they desire to do so.

We conclude that the portion of the tentative agreement that was reached during the informal conference which addresses the merits of this issue provides a reasonable basis for resolution. It represents a compromise which both parties were willing to accept over all previous proposals exchanged during their negotiations. Under the agreement, all bargaining-unit employees within each department would be divided in half by seniority. The most senior 50 percent would be categorized as "senior employees" for purposes of scheduling annual leave. It would address both the concern of the Union that seniority be the sole criterion for scheduling annual leave as well as that of the Employer by limiting all leave slots.(2)

in a 2-week leave period to a simple majority of employees categorized as "senior" before deferring to more junior employees in the bottom 50 percent. The most senior employees still would be allowed to have preference in scheduling leave by virtue of their length of service.

ORDER

Pursuant to the authority vested in it by section 7119 of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute and because of the failure of the parties to resolve their dispute during the course of proceedings instituted pursuant to section 2471.6(a)(2) of the Panel's regulations, the Federal Service Impasses Panel under section 2471.11(a) of its regulations hereby orders the following:

The parties shall accept and implement the first paragraph of the agreement reached and signed by the negotiating parties at the informal conference on February 7, 1990, which is as follows:

The selection of annual leave will be made based on seniority. The most senior employee will select all of his/her projected leave for the year followed by the next most senior employee in descending order to the most junior employee. Total leave will be scheduled with no more than a simple majority of the leave slots in a leave period available to the senior employees. (Intent of majority--if seven leave slots, four would constitute a majority.) No more than 2 consecutive weeks of leave may be scheduled without permission of the Chief Executive Officer.

By direction of the Panel.

Linda A. Lafferty

Executive Director

May 18, 1990

Washington. D.C.

1. The parties previously have defined seniority in their last supplemental agreement as follows:

Seniority, for purposes of granting annual leave, will be decided first by total Bureau of Prisons service time: second, by total service at the Federal Correctional Institution, Tallahassee; third, by Federal service computation date; and finally, by random selection.

2. During any given 2-week leave period, which coincides with employee pay periods, there is a predetermined number of employees within each department who may be on leave at the same time. This predetermined number within each 2