DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY DEFENSE CONTRACT MANAGEMENT DISTRICT SOUTH MARIETTA, GEORGIA and LOCALS 1361, 2069, 2128, 2475, 3024, AND 3953, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO

United States of America

BEFORE THE FEDERAL SERVICE IMPASSES PANEL



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IN THE MATTER OF )

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DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY )

DEFENSE CONTRACT MANAGEMENT )

DISTRICT SOUTH )

MARIETTA, GEORGIA )

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and ) Case No. 92 FSIP 81

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LOCALS 1361, 2069, 2128, )

2475, 3024, AND 3953, )

AMERICAN FEDERATION OF )

GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, )

AFL-CIO )

)

___________________________________)



DECISION AND ORDER



Locals 1361, 2069, 2128, 2475, 3024, and 3953, American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO (Union) filed a request for assistance with the Federal Service Impasses Panel to consider a negotiation impasse under the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (Statute), 5 U.S.C. § 7119, between them and the Defense Logistics Agency, Defense Contract Management District South, Marietta, Georgia (Employer or DCMDS).



After investigation of the request for assistance, the Panel determined that the impasse, concerning the availability of relocation services for bargaining-unit employees, 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,l/ and the Panel has considered the entire record.



/ The Union did not submit a statement of position or a rebuttal. It did submit a letter of explanation, 3 weeks after the deadline set by the Panel, which was not considered in reaching this decision.



BACKGROUND



The Employer's mission is to administer contracts for the Department of Defense (DOD). The 6 locals in this case represent approximately 1,900 bargaining-unit employees. These employees hold positions such as secretary, procurement clerk, engineer, industrial specialist, and contract administrator. The parties are covered by a nationwide collective-bargaining agreement which is scheduled to expire in November 1993.



The impasse arose during negotiations over the impact and implementation of a pending reduction in force (RIF). The parties reached agreement on a number of issues addressing the impact of the RIF, which included competitive areas encompassing a larger geographical area, and employee entitlement to permanent change of station (PCS) benefits in accordance with Department of Defense Joint Travel Regulations (JTR).2/ Because, under certain circumstances, the Employer also provides a relocation service called the "Guaranteed Homesale Service,"3/ the Union proposed that it be made available to employees in connection with the

negotiations over the RIF.





2/ Under the JTR, employees are entitled to be reimbursed for expenses incurred in selling a home when the employee is authorized a permanent change of station. Specifically, paragraph C14002 of the JTR states that the total amount of expenses that may be reimbursed in connection with the sale of a residence at the old permanent duty station shall not exceed 10 percent of the actual sale price or $20,115, whichever is less. In connection with the purchase of a residence at the new permanent duty station, reimbursement shall not exceed 5 percent of the purchase price or $10,057, whichever is less. JTR also covers such expenses as househunting trips, temporary quarters subsistence expenses at the new duty station, travel expenses, movement of household goods and their temporary storage, and miscellaneous expenses.



3/ Under this service, a private contractor attempts to sell the residence. The agency pays the expenses associated with this service. If the home is sold within 90 days of the listing with the contractor, the Employer's expense is 19 percent of the appraised value of the home. The expense increases as the time to sell increases. When authorized, the service is provided in lieu of what the JTR covers regarding real estate sales expenses. The other JTR benefits such as househunting trips, temporary quarters expenses, etc., remain as an employee entitlement.





ISSUE AT IMPASSE



The sole issue in dispute is the circumstances under which the agency's "Guaranteed Homesale Service" program should be made available to employees.



POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES



1. The Union's Position 4/



In essence, the Union proposes that~DCMDS authorize the use of relocation services if any of the following criteria are met: (1) when extreme difficulties are encountered in filling vacant positions; (2) when employees are affected by involuntary position changes, or voluntary position changes are made to prevent another person from being affected by a proposed position change; and (3) when closure of a DCMDS worksite causes a depressed housing market making it difficult to sell houses. Furthermore, it proposes that the Administrator of the Relocation Program associated with a PCS move purchase DCMDS employees' homes upon request after notice of a pending PCS move, and guarantee employees 95 percent of the independently appraised value of their homes if they are unable to sell their homes themselves. Its proposal would apply in the case of (a) RIFs; (b) transfers of function; © management directed reassignments; (d) voluntary reassignments; and (e) as a

recruitment incentive.



By authorizing the use of relocation services in lieu of real estate sales expenses more employees would be able to enjoy the benefits of such services. This would reduce the financial burden on employees who are making a PCS move if expenses are greater than the JTR would cover. Additionally, the adoption of its proposal would increase employee morale by alleviating any concerns over expenses incurred during such moves. In contrast, under the Employer's proposal, hardly anyone would qualify to receive the relocation services.



2. The Employer's Position



The Employer proposes the following:





Defense Contract Management District South (DCMDS) may authorize the use of Relocation Services in those cases that meet criteria established by management: (1) When extreme difficulties are encountered in filling vacant positions; or (2) When closure of a DCMDS field activity



4/ The Union's position is taken from a document submitted in connection with its request for assistance. Causes a depressed housing market making it difficult to sell houses And (3) It applies to unit employees who are impacted by involuntary position changes within DCMDS connected with this RIF. When authorized, it will be in accordance with the Relocation Services Agreement with Army and PHH Home Equity.



It maintains that the service was initially established as a "recruiting device" to attract people for hard-to-fill jobs. Expanding the service to cover the circumstances described by the Union would increase costs and may require additional RIFs. Furthermore, the Union's proposal to expand the availability of the service is beyond the scope of the parties' negotiations, which arose over the impact and implementation of the current RIF. In this regard, the parties have already agreed to expand competitive areas to lessen the impact of the RIF on employees. To extend relocation services in the manner proposed by the Union "is not in the best interest of the Government nor is it considered a reasonable compromise to employee concerns." Finally, there is no need to expand the circumstances under which the service would be available because employees affected by PCS moves are adequately reimbursed under the JTR.



CONCLUSIONS



Having considered the evidence and arguments in this case, we shall order the parties to adopt the Employer's proposal, because the Union has not demonstrated a need to expand relocation services to situations other than for recruitment purposes. In this regard, by agreeing to expand the geographical boundaries of competitive areas, more PCS moves are likely to occur than under the parties' previous competitive areas. As funding is scarce, and DOD downsizing proceeds, the Union's proposal would put an additional, and unwarranted financial burden on the Employer which, paradoxically, could have the effect of requiring additional RIF