DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY NORFOLK NAVAL SHIPYARD PORTSMOUTH, VIRGINIA and LOCAL 1, INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF PROFESSIONAL AND TECHNICAL ENGINEERS, AFL-CIO
United States of America
BEFORE THE FEDERAL SERVICE IMPASSES PANEL
In the Matter of
DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY
NORFOLK NAVAL SHIPYARD
LOCAL 1, INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF PROFESSIONAL AND TECHNICAL ENGINEERS, AFL-CIO
Case No. 92 FSIP 04
DECISION AND ORDER
Local 1, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, AFL-CIO (Union), filed a request for assistance with the Federal Service Impasses Panel (Panel) to consider a negotiation impasse under the Federal Service LaborManagement Relations Statute (Statute), 5 U.S.C. 7119, between it and the Department of the Navy, Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth, Virginia (Employer).
After investigation of the request for assistance, the Panel determined that the dispute, which arose during bargaining over the impact and implementation of a change in the Employer's performance appraisal policy, should be resolved through a teleconference with a Panel representative. The parties were advised that if no settlement were reached, the Panel's representative would report to the Panel on the status of the dispute, including the parties' final offers, and make recommendations for resolving the impasse. After considering this information, the Panel would take whatever action it deemed appropriate to resolve the impasse, including the issuance of a binding decision.
Accordingly, Assistant Executive Director Joseph Schimansky held a telephone conference with the parties on May 18, 1992, but only one of the two issues in dispute was resolved. Mr. Schimansky has reported to the Panel based on the record developed by the parties on the remaining issue, and it has now considered the entire record in the case.
The Employer is an industrial-funded activity whose primary mission is to repair Naval vessels. The Union represents approximately 1,600 employees, mainly engineers and technicians. The parties' collective-bargaining agreement expired on January 25, 1988, but has been extended by mutual agreement.
The change in performance appraisal policy concerns the Employer's decision to require supervisors to perform "close-out ratings," i.e., appraisals for employees who are transferred, or whose supervisors change, prior to the end of the normal rating cycle. The change in policy was implemented on October 7, 1991, through a formal Shipyard notice, which amended the Employer's Instruction regarding its overall Performance Appraisal Review System (PARS Instruction). The PARS Instruction was issued in 1989 following negotiations between the parties which led to an agreement outlining the procedures that supervisors are expected to follow when evaluating employees. The negotiated procedures were issued to supervisors in a separate memorandum dated May 22, 1989, not through a formal Shipyard notice.
ISSUE AT IMPASSE
The parties are at impasse over whether the May 22, 1989, memorandum should be reissued through (1) a formal Shipyard notice or (2) a memorandum from the Director of the Employee Relations Division.
1. The Union's Position
The Union proposes that the Employer reissue the May 22, 1989, memorandum as an enclosure to a formal Shipyard notice. In this regard, requiring the use of the Employer's formal notice system would be more effective in getting supervisors to follow the negotiated procedures, which are now routinely disregarded, because formal notices and the instructions to which they refer are typically filed together. Thus, when supervisors are getting ready to evaluate employees at a later date, their review of the PARS Instruction is more likely also to include a review of the procedural requirements negotiated by the parties. Its proposal also should be adopted because the Director of the Employee Relations Division has already distributed the May 22, 1989, memorandum twice to supervisors since it was negotiated, and the procedures are continually ignored.
2. The Employer's Position
The Employer proposes to issue a memorandum to supervisors referencing the PARS Instruction, with the May 22, 1989, memorandum
as an enclosure, instructing the recipients that the requirements of the memorandum are binding as procedures to be followed when evaluating the performance of bargaining-unit employees. Its proposal could be implemented almost immediately to remind supervisors of their responsibilities under the negotiated procedures. The Union's proposal, on the other hand, would take at least a month while the formal notice goes through the required levels of review, including the signature of the Commanding Officer. Moreover, the Union is mistaken in its assumption that the mere issuance of a formal Shipyard notice would ensure that the May 22, 1989, memorandum is automatically attached to the PARS Instruction to which it refers. Finally, the real reason for the Union's proposal is that the Employer's Director of Industrial Relations refused to agree to publish the May 22, 1989, memorandum as a formal Shipyard notice when it was originally negotiated. The Panel should not now order what the Union could not achieve through negotiations at that time.
Having examined the evidence and arguments on this issue, we are persuaded that, on balance, the Union's proposal is the better way of resolving the dispute. Preliminarily, we note that neither party's proposal appears to address directly the workplace problem underlying their impasse, i.e., the blatant disregard by supervisors of the procedures to be followed under the May 22, 1989, memorandum negotiated by the parties. The Employer's approach, however, already has proven ineffective as a means of getting supervisors to comply with the procedures. The reissuance of the May 22, 1989, memorandum through a formal Shipyard notice, while by no means ensuring the desired result, has the limited virtue of not having failed before. Since documents issued through formal notices should have a higher profile than those attached to memorand