DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY TOOELE ARMY DEPOT TOOELE, UTAH and LODGE 2261, INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MACHINISTS AND AEROSPACE WORKERS AND LOCAL 2185, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO



United States of America



BEFORE THE FEDERAL SERVICE IMPASSES PANEL



_______________________________________

)

In the Matter of )

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DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY )

TOOELE ARMY DEPOT )

TOOELE, UTAH )

)

and ) Case No. 92 FSIP 107

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LODGE 2261, INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION )

OF MACHINISTS AND AEROSPACE WORKERS )

AND LOCAL 2185, AMERICAN FEDERATION )

OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO )

_______________________________________)



DECISION AND ORDER



Lodge 2261, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and Local 2185, American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO (Unions) and Department of the Army, Tooele Army Depot, Tooele, Utah, filed a joint request for assistance with the Federal Service Impasses Panel (Panel) to consider a negotiation impasse under 5 U.S.C. § 7119 of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (Statute).



After investigation of the request for assistance, the Panel determined that the impasse, concerning excused absence, should be resolved on the basis of written submissions from the parties, with the Panel to be limited to selecting either of the parties' final proposals, to the extent that the proposals were otherwise lawful. Written submissions were made pursuant to this procedure and the Panel has considered the entire record.



BACKGROUND



The mission of the Employer is to overhaul and rebuild military vehicles and supply ammunition and chemical agents to the Department of the Army. The 2 Unions represent a combined total of approximately 2,500 bargaining-unit employees who hold positions such as machinist, mechanic, painter, truck driver, supply technician, and warehouseman. The dispute affects approximately 117 employees. The parties' joint collective-bargaining agreement expired in November 1992.





In April 1991, the Employer received a memorandum from President Bush which, in relevant part, stated:



Desert Shield/Desert Storm participants who are returning to their Federal civilian employment should be afforded 5 days of excused absence from their duties, without charge to leave.



Subsequently, the Employer announced that it would give National Guard members and reservists who were called to serve in the Persian Gulf 40 hours of administrative leave upon their return to civilian assignments. The dispute arose during negotiations over the amount of administrative leave Federal civilian employees who volunteered to perform civilian support functions in the Persian Gulf should receive upon their return.



ISSUE AT IMPASSE



The parties basically are at impasse over whether employees who volunteered to perform civilian support functions in the Persian Gulf during Desert Storm/Desert Shield should receive the same amount of administrative leave as the National Guard members and reservists received upon their return from the war.



1. The Union's Position



The Union proposes that:



All employees returning from TDY [temporary duty] assignment in [Southwest Asia] shall be excused on administrative leave for a total of 40 working hours. This time is to be scheduled with their supervisors. The hours need not be taken consecutively.



This agreement shall be retroactive to all depot employees that served in Southwest Asia prior to 11 April 1991 or who return on or after 8 March 1991 from assignments of more than 30 days.



It would be unfair if volunteers did not receive the same amount of administrative leave as National Guard members and reservists. Volunteers were in a similar zone of danger; they were subject to "SCUD missile attacks" and performed "extremely arduous" tasks. Furthermore, a number of other installations have awarded an equal amount of administrative leave to employees who volunteered to perform civilian support functions in the Persian Gulf region.











2. The Employer's Position



The Employer proposes that:



In recognition of the contributions made by civilian employees who served on a TDY basis in Operation Desert Storm/Shield, the following excused absence is authorized:



Excused absence, in the amount of 20 and ½ hours is hereby authorized for Tooele Army Depot employees who entered on duty in the Persian Gulf Region prior to April 11, 1991, or who returned on or after March 8, 1991, from assignments of more than 30 days in the Persian Gulf Region. This excused absence will be retroactively substituted for annual leave or leave without pay taken by employees after their return from the Persian Gulf Region. Following substitution, should an employee have a balance of excused absence remaining, the employee may use the balance at any time prior to January 7, 1993. Any excused absence not used by an employee prior to January 7, 1993, will be forfeited.



It would be inappropriate to give volunteers an equal amount of administrative leave as National Guard members and reservists. Volunteers worked in non-combat locations and were sent at their convenience, unlike National Guard members and reservists who were involuntarily activated on short notice. In addition, the Employer contends that volunteers were well compensated for their contributions in the form of overtime, which nearly doubled their salaries during the war; they received danger pay where appropriate, and awards. Furthermore, its offer "falls within a reasonable mid-range" compared to what other depots have offered their employees, while the Union's proposal would double the Employer's costs.



CONCLUSIONS



Having considered the evidence and arguments in this case, we are persuaded that the Employer's final offer should be adopted. In our view, given the final-offer selection procedure, the Employer's proposal is the more equitable resolution to the dispute. Although we recognize the great sacrifices that volunteers made in the Persian Gulf, giving all employees the same amount of administrative leave would be inappropriate, given that volunteers were not serving under the same circumstances as the military reservists and National Guard troops. Additionally, the Employer's proposal would recognize contributions made by volunteers, while keeping expenditure of funds to a minimum during a time when Congress is further reducing the Department of Defense budget.



ORDER



Pursuant to the authority vested in it by the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute, 5 U.S.C. § 7119, and because of the failure of the parties to resolve their dispute during the course of proceedings instituted under the Panel's regulations, 5 C.F.R. § 2471.6(a)(2), the