DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE 2750th AIR BASE WING WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, OHIO and LOCAL 2333, INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MACHINISTS AND AEROSPACE WORKERS AFL-CIO

United States of America

BEFORE THE FEDERAL SERVICE IMPASSES PANEL



In the Matter of

DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE

2750th AIR BASE WING

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, OHIO



and

Case No. 91 FSIP 293



LOCAL 2333, INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION

OF MACHINISTS AND AEROSPACE WORKERS

AFL-CIO



DECISION AND ORDER



The Department of the Air Force, 2750th Air Base Wing,

Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio (Employer) and Local 2333, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO (Union) filed a joint request 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.



After investigation of the request for assistance, the Panel determined that the impasse, concerning procedures for termination of dues withholding allotments, should be resolved through written submissions from the parties, with the Panel to take whatever action it deemed appropriate to resolve the impasse. Written submissions were made pursuant to this procedure and the Panel has considered the entire record.



BACKGROUND



The mission of the 2750th Air Base Wing, the host unit on

the base. is to maintain most of its 1,600 buildings; it provides grounds maintenance, in addition to transportation, payroll, personnel, recreational, and police and fire protection services. It also operates a runway complex that has an average of 100,000 takeoffs and landings yearly. The Union represents a bargaining unit consisting of approximately 762 Wage Grade employees, the majority of whom hold positions in maintenance. Currently, the parties are abiding by a collective-bargaining agreement (CBA) which was scheduled to expire on March 22, 1990; they have agreed, however, to extend it until a successor is negotiated and implemented. The dispute arose during negotiations over a new term agreement.



ISSUES



The parties disagree over (1) the "window period" during which Union members may revoke dues withholding,1/ and (2) who may distribute to them dues revocation forms, known as SF-1188s.



The current practice, as stated in the existing CBA, is as follows:



Section 35.7. Employee requests for termination of dues withholding will be effective the first full pay period following 1 September, provided the revocation is received by the Payroll Office on or before 1 September. It is the employee's responsibility to see that his written revocation is received in the Accounting and Finance Branch on a timely basis. SF 1188s will be provided to the employee by the Chairman of the Union Shop Committee.



1/ By way of background, under 5 U.S.C § 7115(a) and (b) of the Statute, once an employee makes an assignment for the payment of regular and periodic dues to the exclusive representative of the bargaining unit, that assignment may not be revoked for a period of 1 year with the following exceptions as provided for in § 7115(b): (1) the agreement between the agency and the exclusive representative involved ceases to be applicable to the employee; i.e., the employee is promoted into a nonbargaining-unit position, or (2) the employee is suspended or expelled from membership in the exclusive representative's organization.

POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES



1. The Employer's Position



The Employer proposes the following:



Employee requests for termination of dues withholding will be

effective the first full pay period following the particular

anniversary date (the anniversary date is the starting date of the

first pay period for which dues were deducted from the employee's

pay), providing the revocation is received by the Civilian Pay

Unit during the 30-day period prior to the anniversary date. It is

the employee's responsibility to see that his written revocation

is received in the Civilian Pay Unit on a timely basis.2/ SF-1188s

will be provided upon request to the employee by the Chairman of

the Union Shop Committee, the Labor Relations Unit or the Civilian

Pay Unit.3/



It argues that a 30-day window of opportunity for employees to submit a dues revocation form is reasonable because it provides a definitive time frame for employees to make a change. Moreover, establishing a definitive period during which employees may make such changes is consistent with other opportunities for employees to make periodic adjustments affecting their pay such as the "open season" for changing health insurance plans, and the open seasons for employees to initiate, terminate, or modify Thrift Savings Plan

enrollment. As to the distribution of dues revocation forms, allowing the Labor Relations Unit to distribute them is consistent with agreements the Employer has reached with two other unions representing employees assigned to the base. The Labor



/ In a conference call with the parties on February 20, 1992, the Union confirmed that it has agreed to that aspect of the Employer's proposal which would make it the employee's responsibility to ensure that the revocation form is timely received by the Civilian Pay Unit.



3/ During mediation, the Union agreed to allow members of the Civilian Pay Unit to distribute SF-1188s to employees; therefore, the only dispute as to distribution of the forms is whether the Labor Relations Unit also may issue them to employees.

Relations Unit is capable of maintaining a neutral role on union membership while distributing dues revocation forms; evidence of this is the fact that there have been no allegations of improprieties with respect to the other bargaining units to which it distributes revocation forms. Furthermore, since members of the Labor Relations Unit are knowledgeable about the dues withholding and revocation process they would be able to answer questions posed by employees while members of the Civilian Pay Unit may not.



2. The Union's Position



The Union proposes that employee requests for termination of dues withholding should become effective the first full pay period following the particular anniversary date (the starting date of the first pay period for which dues were deducted from the employee's pay), provided the revocation is received by the Civilian Pay Unit during the 15-day period prior to the anniversary date. The SF-1188 forms would be provided, upon request from the employee, by the Civilian Pay Unit or the Chairman of the Union Shop Committee.



In support of its position, the Union maintains that a 15-day window of opportunity for employees to submit a dues revocation form is more than a reasonable period of time for them to accomplish their objective.



As to the distribution of SF-1188 forms, there is no need for the Labor Relations Unit to distribute them to employees since there are two other sources from which the forms may be obtained; moreover, the other sources are well publicized since the Union has a contractual obligation to inform bargaining-unit employees about the dues revocation process. In the past, the Union Shop Committee has never failed to provide a Union member with an SF-1188 form expeditiously upon request. The number of sources from which employees may obtain SF-1188 forms should be kept to an absolute minimum to help ensure that (1) revocation requests are handled properly and processed in a timely fashion, (2) the rights of the members are protected, and (3) the Union is able to monitor closely "the movement of its members." Permitting the Labor Relations Unit to distribute dues revocation forms to Union members may tempt management to stray from its traditionally neutral role on such

matters. Moreover, such distribution may be a breach of a previously-agreed-upon provision in the new contract, which provides that "(n)o action will be taken by members of management that will either encourage or discourage membership in the Union."





CONCLUSIONS



After considering the evidence and arguments presented, we find that with respect to the distribution of dues revocation forms, the parties should adopt that aspect of the Union's proposal which would limit the distribution sources to the Civilian Pay Unit and the Chairman of the Union Shop Committee. In our view, allowing members of management's Labor Relations Unit to distribute SF-1188 forms to Union members could create an appearance of impropriety and subject them to allegations that they have unduly influenced

employees to revoke their Union membership. Although there is no evidence that such charges have been made in the past, the potential exits nonetheless. Moreover, since the issue of dues revocation has a potentially significant economic impact upon the Union's viability, the Employer should have as little involvement with the process as possible.



As to the time period during which a Union member must submit a dues revocation form to the Civilian Pay Unit for processing, we find nothing in the record to support a change from the current practice. In this regard, neither party has demonstrated why employees who choose to terminate their Union membership should be constrained to submit to the Civilian Pay Unit a dues revocation form for processing during only a designated period of either 15 or 30 days. Therefore, we find that the parties should maintain the

practice under the current negotiated agreement whereby Union members may submit for processing a dues revocation form at any time to the Civilian Pay Unit. We recognize, of course, that termination of a dues assignment to an exclusive representative may not become effective for a period of 1 year from the date of the-initial assignment by the employee unless termination is pursuant to section 7115(b)(1) or (2) of the Statute.4/



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