DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, ILLINOIS and LOCAL R7-23, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, SEIU, AFL-CIO
In the Matter of )
DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE )
SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE )
SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, ILLINOIS )
and ) Case No. 92 FSIP 68
LOCAL R7-23, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION )
OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, SEIU, )
Local R7-23, National Association of Government Employees, SEIU, 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 between the Union and the Department of the Air Force, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois (Employer).
The Panel determined that the impasse 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 now considered the entire record.
The Employer is headquarters of the Military Airlift Command (MAC), which provides logistical military airlift services to activities of the Department of Defense. The Union represents employees of 2 separate bargaining units -- an appropriated-fund unit of approximately 2,500 General Schedule (GS) and Wage Grade (WG) employees who work in a wide variety of technical and administrative occupations, and a second unit consisting of approximately 500 employees of a nonappropriated-fund instrumentality (NAFI) who work primarily in service-related jobs. Each unit is covered by a separate collective-bargaining agreement. The NAFI agreement expired in December 1990, but remains in effect pending the implementation of its successor; the appropriated-fund agreement is due to expire in April 1993.
This dispute arose as a result of negotiations over an Employer proposal to prohibit indoor smoking in Building 1904 where some 20 smokers work. It is a 3-story building occupied by approximately 100 administrative and clerical employees, many of whom are employed in the 2 bargaining units represented by the Union. In January 1990, the parties entered into an agreement which permits smoking in a break room on the first floor as well as a vestibule area at the south end of the third floor.
The parties have reached impasse following negotiations over a management proposal to ban all smoking inside Building 1904 and to designate a covered, outdoor picnic pavilion as the smoking area.
1. The Employer's Position
The Employer notes that secondhand smoke escapes from the areas within the building where smoking is now permitted, into the central stairwell and the hallways, areas which all building occupants must use in their daily course of business. The harmful effects of sidestream smoke are well documented by medical research. It has also been established that closing a door will not stop the harmful gases and carcinogens in tobacco smoke from being dispersed throughout the entire building.
Management's proposal will afford Building 1904 occupants protection from secondhand smoke. The interests of smokers will be accommodated by the availability of the covered pavilion. Smokers also are encouraged to take advantage of the smoking cessation classes the Employer offers.
2. The Union's Position
The Union proposes to maintain the status quo, that is, to retain the break room and the vestibule as smoking areas. The only modifications it would favor would be to require smokers in the break room to keep a window partially open and to place a sign on the break room door to ensure that it remains closed at all times.
The Union has received no complaints about the status quo and management has shown it only one anonymous complaint. That complaint stated that the hallways were filled with smoke, but it did not attribute this to smokers in the designated areas. Rather, the complainant alleged that people were smoking in their offices behind closed doors. The Union argues that it is the Employer's job to police and enforce the existing agreement. Unless it does so, the same people will continue to violate any ban or restriction on indoor smoking.
There are few smokers in the building, fewer than there were when the current agreement was reached. The break room is very small and is equipped with a "smoke eater" as well as two outside windows. The Union's president has visited the break room several times to observe the smoking situation. On most occasions he has observed the room to be empty. Never were there more than two smokers present. The Union president has never smoked, and describes himself as being very sensitive to tobacco smoke. He states that he has never smelled any smoke on any of the floors of the building on his visits. It is the Union's position that smoking within the currently designated areas is not exposing nonsmokers to secondhand smoke.
According to the Union, management has not been consistent in its policy. The base newspaper accepts cigarette advertising and management has resisted the Union's proposals to ban smoking from the Officer's Club and NCO Clubs. The Union also states that it has reason to believe that high-level military officials put pressure on management not to implement a previous Panel order to ban smoking in a base cafeteria, in deference to visiting dignitaries and Air Force officers who smoke in the cafeteria. Finally, the current agreement allows management to implement changes in smoking practices where there is an ill employee. Management has invoked this provision for some areas of the base but not for Building 1904.
We find that the parties' dispute over smoking should be resolved on the basis of a modified version of the Employer's proposal. In our view, a ban on indoor smoking is necessary to enhance the health of everyone who works in Building 1904. The Union's proposal fails to recognize the hazardous effects of even small amounts of sidestream smoke on building occupants. Nor would an open window and a closed door in the break room necessarily eliminate that hazard.
Since the Employer-sponsored smoke cessation classes would benefit some employees, such a provision should be incorporated into the parties' smoking policy. With respect to the outdoor smoking area proposed by the Employer, we are unable to determine from the written record its adequacy or accessibility. Therefore, we shall order the adoption of a more broadly-worded provision requiring the Employer to designate an outdoor smoking area which (1) is reasonably accessible to Building 1904 employees, and (2) provides a measure of protection from the elements. Any disputes over the adequacy or accessibility of the designated area may be resolved through the parties' negotiated grievance procedure.