DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY HEADQUARTERS, U.S. ARMY GARRISON PRESIDIO OF SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA and LOCAL 1457, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO

United States of America

BEFORE THE FEDERAL SERVICE IMPASSES PANEL



In the Matter of )

)

DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY )

HEADQUARTERS, U.S. ARMY )

GARRISON )

PRESIDIO OF SAN FRANCISCO, )

CALIFORNIA )

)

and ) Case No. 91 FSIP 230

)

)

LOCAL 1457, AMERICAN )

FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT )

EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO )



DECISION AND ORDER



The Department of the Army, Headquarters, U.S. Army Garrison, Presidio of San Francisco, California (Employer or Garrison), 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 (Statute), 5 U.S.C. § 7119, between it and Local 1940, American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO (Union).



After investigation of the request for assistance, the Panel recommended that all but one of the numerous issues in dispute involving a proposed reduction in force (RIF) be resolved through private mediation-arbitration. After receiving the parties' responses to its recommendation, the Panel

directed them to resolve their dispute with respect to those issues by using that procedure.



With respect to the remaining issue concerning competitive areas 1 the Panel determined that the dispute should be resolved through the issuance of an Order To Show Cause why the Panel should not impose a solution similar to the one it ordered in Department of the Army. U.S. Army Training Center_ and Fort Jackson Fort Jackson South Carolina and Local 1214 National Federation of 1A competitive area is the geographical and organizational limit within which employees compete for job retention.



Federal Employees, Case No. 91 FSIP 76 (March 15, 1991), Panel Release No. 308 (Fort Jackson). In Fort Jackson, the Panel essentially ordered that: (1) the competitive area be expanded to include all activities where the union was the duly authorized exclusive representative of employees, (2) the geographic boundary be the local commuting area, and (3) the competitive area include all positions within those activities. Written submissions were made pursuant to these procedures, and the Panel has now considered the entire record.



BACKGROUND



The mission of the Garrison is to provide personnel and payroll support and supplies to all of the activities located at the Presidio of San Francisco, California. The latest published figures at our disposal indicate that the Union represents about 1,300 employees in 11 activities throughout the local commuting area, some 350 of whom work in support positions at the Garrison.2 According to the Employer, current RIF plans call for the elimination of about 75 positions, a large number of which are currently occupied by bargaining-unit employees. In addition, the entire Presidio is due to close by Fiscal Year 1994, so that the current plans are part of a phased process in which all elements at the Presidio are scheduled to be either relocated, transferred to

other activities through transfers of function, or abolished. The parties currently are renegotiating the terms of a collective-bargaining agreement that expired in 1985.



ISSUE AT IMPASSE



The matter before the Panel is whether to resolve the dispute by: (1) ordering provisions similar to those imposed in Fort Jackson or (2) taking other appropriate action.



1. The Union's Position



The Union contends that the competitive area "should lie within the boundaries of the entire Presidio and its subinstallations and organizations that are under Sixth U.S. Army." Its position, supported by a plethora of documents, appears to be based on the view that because of a 1988 reorganization in which the Commander, Headquarters, Sixth U.S. Army, became Installation Commander of the Presidio of San Francisco, it would be appropriate

2 Union Recognition in the Federal Government, "Statistical Summary, Summary Reports Within Agencies, and Listings Within Agencies of Exclusive Recognitions and Agreements as of January 1991," U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Personnel Systems and Oversight Group, Office of Labor Relations and Workforce Performance, Washington, D.C. (1991).



to expand the current competitive area of Garrison employees to

include all activities under the command of the Sixth U.S. Army at the Presidio. This would maximize the number of opportunities provided to bargaining-unit employees to bump or retreat into positions at activities other than those in which they currently work until such time as the Presidio, which "is integrated in nature," is finally closed. Because "no one knows exactly how the base closure will be accomplished . . . the widest possible competitive area must be used" to ensure that it is "fair and equal."



As to the Employer's contention that an expanded competitive

area would result in minimally-qualified nonmedical personnel displacing lower graded medical personnel, "bumping highly qualified personnel (medical) just simply doesn't happen." Finally, the Panel should discount the Employer's argument that adopting a Fort Jackson-type solution in this case would undercut an agreement already reached by the parties concerning the competitive area at the Presidio's hospital. The agreement "was not a binding document" since the Union's signatory did not have the authority to act on its behalf, nor did it involve the issue of competitive areas.



2. The Employer's Position



It would be inappropriate to impose a solution similar to that in Fort Jackson. It argues that "base closure reductions are substantively different from normal personnel reductions" like those which were involved in Fort Jackson. Because of this, "the net effect of imposing a Fort Jackson-type competitive area would be to commit the Garrison and its tenants to unreasonable and unnecessary RIF turmoil during closure." The Employer proposes that all current competitive areas be retained, including the one to be used in conducting the RIF at the Garrison,3 which also encompasses the Commissary and the Physical Education Board.



A number of the tenant activities at each installation are "materially different," e.g., unlike Fort Jackson, the Presidio includes a research and development activity primarily staffed by

highly-skilled medical research personnel. While both installations

house a base hospital, "it would be inappropriate to consider them as comparable due to the base-closure environment" at the Presidio. "The endless bumping and retreating of personnel that can be anticipated under an expanded competitive area will result in minimally-qualified personnel displacing lower graded medical personnel," and involve the burdensome process of retraining personnel continually with each new RIF until operations 3 The Employer states that there are now 42 separate competitive areas at the Presidio of San Francisco, the majority of which "have been in effect since 1974." at the Presidio completely cease. This "unnecessary disruption" may have an adverse impact on the overall quality of patient care at the Presidio hospital "through the placement of 'paper' qualified but untrained RIF employees into positions involving or related to patient care." Moreover, the parties already have reached an agreement concerning competitive areas at the hospital, and the results of their "good faith bargaining" should not be undercut by the Panel.



An expanded competitive area also "would limit the availability" of early retirement options "for many of the Presidio's employees, including senior bargaining-unit employees," because the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) mandates that 5 percent of the employees within a competitive area be subject to separation by RIF before it will grant an employer authority to offer the option. Further, it would disproportionately affect minorities and women, who are likely to be the employees with the least seniority, and the first to lose their jobs. Finally, a Fort Jackson-type solution should not be imposed by the Panel in this case because doing so could place in jeopardy the entire installation closure plan, which "provides for the orderly transition and termination of activities with minimal disruption to individual missions and employees alike."



CONCLUSIONS



Having examined the evidence and arguments presented by the parties, we are persuaded that a solution similar to the one which was imposed by the Panel in Fort Jackson would be inappropriate in this case. In this regard, the eventual elimination of the Presidio as an Army installation is likely to require a continuous series of RIFs over the next 3 to 4 years. In our view, on balance, the administrative burdens which would be created by expanding the competitive area to include all 11 activities within the local commuting area where the Union is the duly authorized exclusive representative, outweigh its relatively short-term benefits to individual bargaining-unit employees. Moreover, given the likely impact of an expanded area on the availability of early retirement options, it might actually have a negative affect on some of the employees the Union seeks to protect.



We find that there is no justification provided in the record for expanding the competitive area to include the entire installation, as proposed by the Union. A competitive area of such magnitude would be torturous to administer, given the large number of RIFs which are likely to occur before the Presidio shuts down. Maintaining the current competitive areas, on the other hand, would permit the Employer to proceed with its plans in an orderly manner.

This should minimize disruptions both in the missions of the activities and the lives of the employees involved, and lower the risk of procedural error in the process. While we are mindful that none of the alternatives presented in this case is pleasant, given

the pain inherent in such a