DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE 3200TH MISSION SUPPORT SQUADRON EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, FLORIDA and LOCAL 1897, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO

United States of America

BEFORE THE FEDERAL SERVICE IMPASSES PANEL

In the Matter of

DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE

3200TH MISSION SUPPORT SQUADRON

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, FLORIDA

and

LOCAL 1897, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF

GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO

Case No. 92 FSIP 188

DECISION AND ORDER

    The Department of the Air Force, 3200th Mission Support Squadron, Eglin Air Force Base (AFB), Eglin APB, Florida (Employer) filed a request for assistance 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. 5 7119, between it and Local 1897, American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO (Union).

    After investigation of the request for assistance, the Panel directed the parties to meet with Assistant Executive Director Joseph Schimansky for the purpose of resolving issues concerning their successor collective-bargaining agreement. The parties were advised that if no settlement were reached, Mr. Schimansky would report to the Panel on the status of the dispute, including his recommendations for resolving the issues. Following consideration of this information, the Panel would take whatever action it deemed appropriate to resolve the impasse, including the issuance of a binding decision. Accordingly, Mr. Schimansky met with the parties on August 5, 1992, at Eglin AFB, Florida, but a complete agreement was not reached.(1) He reported to the Panel on the status of the dispute, and the Panel has now considered the entire record in the case.

BACKGROUND

    The Employer's mission is to research, develop, and test non-nuclear weapons. The Union represents approximately 750 employees located at both Eglin AFB and Hurlbert Field, Florida, who work at the Employer's non-appropriated-fund instrumentalities in a wide variety of retail and service positions. The parties' collective-bargaining agreement expired on January 2, 1983, but has been automatically extended for additional periods of 3 years since that date. The parties will have a new agreement pending resolution of the instant dispute.

    The parties are at impasse over the Union's use of the Employer's internal mail distribution system.

1. The Union's Position

    During the informal conference, as part of the negotiations which led to an agreement that the Union would be provided with on-base office space, it also proposed that it have access to the Employer's internal mail distribution system, known as the Base Information Transfer System (BITS). Such access apparently would save it both time and money, and improve its ability to communicate with the bargaining unit and management officials. Subsequently, however, the Union failed to submit a final offer and 6upporting statement of position, as it had agreed to do at the informal conference.

2. The Employer's Position

    The Employer's proposal, entitled "Memorandum of Agreement Concerning Base Distribution of Official Labor-Management Relations Correspondence," essentially would allow the Union to use the on-base mail distribution system once its office i6 relocated, so that it may send official Union labor-management relations correspondence to management officials. This would be implemented through the use of a "pickup basket" in Room 125, Building 349. Among other things, it also would require: (1) the Employer to deliver to the same pickup basket all correspondence addressed to the Union and placed in the on-base mail distribution system; and (2) the Union to waive its rights to grieve or file unfair labor practice (ULP) charges over any matter related to the performance of the commercial contractor hired to operate the system.

    Its proposal should be adopted by the Panel because it "balances the needs of both parties," and is made as part of a good faith effort to reach agreement. The same cannot be said about the Union's handling of the negotiations. Recent discussions between the parties suggest that the Union "is now seeking more than it stated to the Panel's representative and the agency on 5 August 1992," even though it has failed to provide the Employer with a written counterproposal. Finally, the part of its proposal requiring the Union to waive its right to grieve or file ULP charges over any matter related to the contractor's performance is reasonable because the Employer has a full-time quality assurance inspector whose job is to identify and document problems so that its contract administrator can ensure their resolution.

CONCLUSIONS

    Having examined the evidence and arguments on this issue, we are persuaded that the most prudent course Or action is to order the Employer to withdraw its proposal. While its final offer is generally consistent with the proposal it made at the informal conference, the record reflects that it also contains wording never specifically discussed with the Panel's representative . In this regard, it is unclear whether the part of its proposal stating that "correspondence addressed to the Union and placed in the on-base distribution system will be delivered to that basket" is intended to permit the Employer to use the on-base distribution system to send official Agency labor-management relations correspondence to Union officials in lieu of direct delivery to the Union's office. If it is, the Union would have the burden of checking the basket every day for receipt of such documents. In the absence of any comment from the Union on this matter, we are uncomfortable ordering a provision which may lead to future disputes between the parties. For some of the same reasons, we are reluctant to order the Union to waive its statutory and contractual rights "over any matter related to the contractor's performance." Rather, in view of the lack of information regarding the proposal's meaning and potential effects, we believe that there is insufficient support in the record for disturbing the status quo.(2)

ORDER

    Pursuant to the authority vested in it by the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute, 5 U.S.C. S 7119, and because of the failure of the parties to resolve their dispute during the course of proceedings instituted under the Panel' 5 regulations, 5 C.F.R. S 2471.6(a)(2), the Federal Service Impasses Panel under S 2471.11(a) of its regulations hereby orders the following: