DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE HEADQUARTERS SPACE SYSTEMS DIVISION LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA and LOCAL 2429, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO
United States of America
BEFORE THE FEDERAL SERVICE IMPASSES PANEL
In the Matter of
DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE
HEADQUARTERS SPACE SYSTEMS
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
LOCAL 2429, AMERICAN
FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT
DECISION AND ORDER
The Department of the Air Force, Headquarters Space Systems Division, Los Angeles, California (Employer) and Local 2429, American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO (Union), filed a joint request with the Federal Service Impasses Panel (Panel) to consider a negotiation impasse under section 7119 of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (Statute).
After investigation of the request for assistance, the Panel directed the parties to meet informally with Panel Chairman Roy M. Brewer for the purpose of resolving the issues at impasse. The parties were advised that if no settlement were reached, Chairman Brewer would report to the Panel on the status of the dispute and his recommendations for resolving the issues. After considering this information, the Panel would take whatever action it deemed appropriate to resolve the impasse including the issuance of a binding decision.
During Chairman Brewer's meeting with the parties on March 14, 1990, in Los Angeles, California, two of the issues at impasse were resolved, leaving one for the Panel to consider. Chairman Brewer reported to the Panel based on the record developed by the parties, including their post-conference written submissions. The Panel has now considered the entire record.
The bargaining unit is composed of approximately 1,000 nonprofessional civilian employees of the Air Force Space Systems Division (SSD) and Contract Division. They provide clerical and other support personnel functions for the divisions. SSD is involved with the development of the strategic defense initiative (SDI) and satellite research. The Contract Division is charged with procurement, purchasing, and other contract functions. The dispute herein, however, affects only the 13 bargaining-unit employees of SSD. The collective bargaining agreement expired January 18, 1984, and has been automatically extended by mutual agreement since then.
The dispute arose from negotiations over an Employer-initiated, voluntary, 4-10 compressed work schedule experiment, which already has been implemented with respect to 27 nonbargaining-unit employees.(1) During the informal conference the parties agreed to time and attendance procedures and to begin the test for all bargaining-unit employees who choose to participate 2 weeks after the Panel issues its decision in this case.
The issue in dispute is whether employees participating in the 4-10 compressed work schedule experiment should be required to revert to regular 8-hour workdays during workweeks in which a Federal holiday is observed.
1. The Employer's Position
The Employer proposes that for those weeks in which a Federal holiday is observed (e.g., Martin Luther King Day, President's Day, etc.) the entire workweek shall consist of 8-hour days. The Employer's reason for this provision is its concern over the ability to distribute work. It believes that by requiring a reversion to an 8-hour-a-day schedule during those weeks, management will be afforded a greater opportunity to evaluate the impact of the compressed work schedule on accomplishing work and meeting mission requirements during the test period. Any negative impact on employees would be addressed by virtue of their ability to withdraw at any time from the test.
2. The Union's Position
The Union proposes the following wording:
If a holiday falls on the employee's scheduled off day, then the next day shall be observed as the holiday.
The Union is opposed to reverting to 8-hour workdays during workweeks in which a Federal holiday is observed, and states that its position is consistent with Government-wide regulations concerning the issue.(2) Moreover, such a standard 4-lO test would truly reflect what are the advantages and pitfalls to the compressed work schedule, and that this cannot be accomplished by switching between a compressed schedule and a regular 5-day, 8-hour work schedule. It is concerned about commitments that employees have which would need to be adjusted when changing work schedules back and forth, such as car pools and child care arrangements. The Union also does not want to set a precedent when negotiating a test which may ultimately affect all bargaining-unit employees.
Having considered the evidence and arguments in this case, we conclude that, on balance, the Union's position is the more reasonable. On the one hand, we are persuaded by the Union's argument that the adoption of a standard 4-10 compressed work schedule would provide a more accurate test of the general suitability of such schedules for the facility. The Union has also raised a valid concern about the disruption which could occur in the personal lives of employees should they be required to change schedules merely because a Federal holiday falls within the workweek.
On the other hand, the Employer's contention that the implementation of a standard 4-10 schedule would cause an adverse affect on work flow and productivity appears to be speculative, particularly in these circumstances where there has been little previous experience with compressed work schedules. In this regard, the 4-10 schedule has been initiated by the Employer on an experimental basis, and involves a relatively small number of employees. Thus, the test period should enable the Employer to gather data on the effects of the schedule, and any problems arising from the experiment subsequently may be addressed by the parties. Finally, we note that during the 6-month period of the parties' experimental program, no Federal holidays will be observed on a Friday, so the adoption of the Union's position is fully consistent with Government-wide rules and regulations governing holiday pay for employees on compressed work schedules.