DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE NATIONAL GUARD BUREAU CONNECTICUT ARMY AND AIR NATIONAL GUARD HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT and LOCAL R1-S185, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, SEIU, AFL-CIO

United States of America

BEFORE THE FEDERAL SERVICE IMPASSES PANEL

 

In the Matter of

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

NATIONAL GUARD BUREAU

CONNECTICUT ARMY AND AIR

NATIONAL GUARD

HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT

and

LOCAL R1-S185, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION

OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, SEIU,

AFL-CIO

Case Nos. 93 FSIP 03 and 93 FSIP O7

 

DECISION AND ORDER

    Local R1-S185, National Association of Government Employees, SEIU, AFL-CIO (Union), and the Department of Defense, National Guard Bureau, Connecticut Army and Air National Guard, Hartford, Connecticut (Employer) filed separate requests 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. § 7119. The cases were consolidated since both concerned the same issue.

    The Panel determined that the impasse, which arose during negotiations over a successor collective-bargaining agreement, and concerns competitive areas for reductions in force (RIFs), should be resolved through the issuance to the parties of an Order to Show Cause why the provision the Panel adopted in Department of Defense, National Guard Bureau, Michigan Air National Guard, Lansing, Michigan and Michigan State Council, Association of Civilian Technicians, Case No. 90 FSIP 89 (December 6, 1990), Panel Release No. 303 (Michigan Air National Guard),(1) should not be mandated to resolve the dispute in these cases. Following receipt of the parties' statements, the Panel would take whatever action it deemed appropriate to resolve the impasse. The Panel has now considered the entire record.

BACKGROUND

    The Employer's mission is to train individuals to support the Army and Air Force during national emergencies or war and to provide assistance during state emergencies. The bargaining unit consists of approximately 725 employees, who are Federal employees falling within the jurisdiction of the National Guard Technicians Act (ACT).(2) Employees hold positions such as supply clerk, maintenance worker, aircraft mechanic, and automobile mechanic. The parties are covered by a local agreement that expired in 1991; it continues to be honored until the new agreement is complete following the Panel's decision in this case. They also have agreed to implement some sections of the new agreement.

ISSUE AT IMPASSE

    The parties' dispute concerns competitive areas within which civilian technicians would compete for job retention during a RIF.(3)

POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES

1. The Employer's Position

    The Employer proposes the following:

During a reduction in force, nonbargaining-unit employees will compete with bargaining-unit employees for bargaining-unit positions. During a reduction in force, non-technician employees will not compete with bargaining-unit employees for bargaining-unit positions.

Its proposal is distinguishable from the provision imposed by the Panel's decision in Michigan Air National Guard. In this regard, the competitive area it proposes would include civilian technicians, technician supervisors, and technician management officials, but exclude nonbargaining-unit AGR personnel. Since approximately 90 percent of the technician supervisors and technician management officials originally were in the bargaining unit, and rose through the ranks, they have provided the same long-standing support to the National Guard as current bargaining-unit personnel. Accordingly, they should share that group's greater claim to continued employment as civilian technicians. The Panel's previous decision excluded AGR personnel because their relationship with the National Guard was less continuous. In addition, retaining the most experienced, most skilled group (technician supervisors and management officials), also should enhance productivity and reduce training needs, goals that are particularly critical to achieving mission-related objectives as the National Guard is downsized. The resulting competitive area would advance the existing policy which encourages technicians to strive, through maintaining exceptional performance, for positions with greater responsibility, naturally culminating with supervisory positions.

2. The Union's Position

    The following is the Union's proposal:

During a reduction in force nonbargaining-unit employees (AGR and Technician supervisors) will not compete with bargaining-unit employees for bargaining-unit positions.

The Union argues that the "background and facts of this case are identical to those" in Michigan Air National Guard. The rationale the Panel relied on in the earlier case, therefore, equally supports adopting the Union's proposal in the instant case. In that regard, a single competitive area consisting solely of civilian technicians would maintain the integrity of the bargaining unit, something that the Employer's proposal would not do. More senior bargaining-unit employees would be protected from having to compete with their supervisors who may have even greater seniority, and, therefore, would be more likely to be retained. Finally, when employees accept supervisory positions, they cut their ties to the bargaining unit; they lose union-related protections in exchange for benefits not available to bargaining-unit employees.

CONCLUSIONS

    Having considered the evidence and arguments in this case, we conclude, on balance, that the issue should be resolved by adopting the Employer's proposal. In our view, the difference between this proposal, which would exclude AGR personnel from the competitive area, and the employer's proposal in Michigan Air National Guard, which would have included such full-time military employees, warrants a different result. In the latter decision, the primary focus of the parties' arguments concerned including AGR personnel in the same competitive area as bargaining-unit employees. Under the facts presented here, the Employer has persuasively argued that the majority of employees in the supervisory gro