DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY LETTERKENNY ARMY DEPOT CHAMBERSBURG, PENNSYLVANIA and LOCAL 1429, NATIONAL FEDERATION OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES

United States of America

BEFORE THE FEDERAL SERVICE IMPASSES PANEL

 

In the Matter of

DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY

LETTERKENNY ARMY DEPOT

CHAMBERSBURG, PENNSYLVANIA

and

LOCAL 1429, NATIONAL FEDERATION OF

FEDERAL EMPLOYEES

 

Case No. 93 FSIP 33

 

DECISION AND ORDER

    Local 1429, National Federation of Federal Employees (Union) 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. § 7119, between it and the Department of the Army, Letterkenny Army Depot, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania (Employer).

    After investigation of the request for assistance, the Panel determined that the impasse should be resolved on the basis of 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.(1)

BACKGROUND

    The Employer's mission is the maintenance of weapons systems (including Hawk and Patriot missiles) and the storage and shipment of ammunition. The bargaining unit consists of approximately 1,300 Wage Grade employees, most of whom work in skilled trades occupations. The parties have reached impasse following negotiations for a successor collective-bargaining agreement. One issue remains in dispute; the parties have agreed, however, to sever this item and implement the balance of the contract.

ISSUES

    The sole issue in dispute is the type of work schedule that should be implemented.

1. The Union's Position

    A 4-10 compressed work schedule should be implemented for a 1-year test period. Employees are likely to be more productive on 10-hour days than on 8-hour days. In addition, employee morale would be enhanced. The Employer's claims regarding the need for interaction between Wage Grade employees and General Schedule employees(2) are exaggerated and, therefore, its assertion that employees of the two units need to be on the same work schedule lacks merit. Regardless, interface opportunities would be increased if Wage Grade employees work 10-hour days, especially if off days are staggered. With respect to the Employer's argument that a prior 4-10 test was a failure, the previous experiment was conducted under unusual circumstances and does not provide a realistic view as to the impact that a unit-wide 4-10 schedule may have. Overall, the Employer's proposal fails to recognize that other Federal employees work 4-10 schedules without disruption to mission requirements.

2. The Employer's Position

    As a threshold matter, the agency head has found that implementation of the Union's proposal would result in adverse agency impact. Thus, under the provisions of 5 U.S.C. § 6131(a),(3) has already been established. the agency cannot establish such a schedule. Accordingly, the Panel should relieve the Employer from any further duty to bargain over the Union's proposal.

    In the alternative, however, the Employer proposes the following:

Section 13. Flexitime.

a. General. Employees in the unit will coordinate their hours of work with their supervisors.

b. Definitions.

1. Flexitime: A system of work scheduling which splits the workday into two distinct kinds of time -- core time and flexible time.

2. Core time: That portion of the workday during which all employees must be present for work. Core time will be 0830 to 1430 hours.

3. Flexible time: Portions of the workday during which the employee has the option to select and/or vary starting and quitting times will be between 0600 and 0830 (at 30 minute intervals) for starting time and 1430 and 1730 for quitting time.

4. Flexitour: The employee's assigned schedule following his/her selection of a starting time within the established flexible time band. The schedule is the employee's tour of duty until another schedule is approved by the supervisor.

5. Operational hours: The normal hours of operation during which employees must be available to carry on the work of the organization. Operational hours are normally from 0730 to 1600 hours. Operational hours may be changed by activity directors with prior notification to the Union. Operational hours do not apply to second and third shifts.

6. Starting time: The half hour increments (30 minutes) from 0600 to 0830 hours that employees may begin their tours of duty.

7. Workday: An eight hour period excluding the unpaid lunch period.

c. Procedures.

1. Each employee will consider the requirements and responsibilities of their job assignments, the interface with other employees and organizations, and overall mission accomplishment in selecting a flexible tour of duty.

2. Supervisors will review employee requests considering the employee's desires so far as practicable in assuring that job and overall mission requirements are met. Supervisors will also determine the amount of employee coverage needed during operational hours and will ensure that adequate coverage is maintained.

3. When employee preferences do not yield sufficient coverage during operational hours and, as a consequence, an employee's flexitour request cannot be approved, the supervisor will discuss the need for a different tour of duty with the affected employee. If the supervisor and the employee are unable to arrive at a mutually agreeable tour of duty, the tour of duty shall be assigned by the supervisor.

4. When more than one employee is qualified (identical job title, series, and grade level) and fully knowledgeable of the required position functions, the supervisor will solicit a volunteer(s) to work the required tour of duty. In the event needs are not met by volunteers, the supervisor will assign the tour of duty based upon inverse order of employee seniority.

5. Approved tours of duty may require temporary adjustments to accommodate meetings [and] conferences, changes in workload requirements, training courses, and/or special projects. When temporary adjustments are required, the supervisor will notify the employee before the end of the tour of duty the previous day so the employee can make arrangements to report on the revised temporary work schedule.

6. Based on criteria in (1) and (2) above, adjustments to the scheduled tour of duty may be made with the approval of the supervisor to facilitate personal emergencies and scheduling of routine medical and dental appointments.

Since this proposal coincides with the work schedule currently in effect for General Schedule employees (who support unit employees), its adoption should keep "the mission interface opportunities for these units at their optimal levels." The proposal would also allow for increased interaction with customers, many of whom are on a standard 5-day-per-week, 8-hour-per-day-work schedule. The proposal would not result in any increased costs for holiday leave and overtime, and given the scrutiny the installation received from the 1993 Base Closure and Realignment Commission, its adoption should enhance the facility's competitiveness, thereby increasing its chances of remaining open. Overall, the proposal is similar to the work schedule provision contained in the prior contract, which has served the parties well.

    With respect to the Union's proposal, a 4-10 schedule cannot be implemented in only one bargaining unit, as it would have a disruptive effect on the overall operation of the depot. Because of the close working relationship between General Schedule employees and unit employees, keeping both groups on the same schedule is imperative; in this regard, since General Schedule employees work 8 hours per day, 5 days per week (with flexitime), a 4-10 schedule for blue-collar employees would result in lost productivity. The 4-10 experiment conducted in an element of the Maintenance Directorate 5 years ago failed because of interface problems. More specifically, equipment repairs could not be scheduled without a significant loss of production time; backlogs were created, thereby resulting in increased use of overtime; and mandatory repair cycle times were not met. In addition, the Union's proposal would impair the Employer's ability to provide routine services to its customers which, in turn, could directly affect military operations throughout the world. Finally, the Union's proposal would result in an increase in costs to the Employer of approximately $1.3 million; this would be due to: (1) increased payments to employees for holidays; (2) an increase in the amount of overtime for bargaining-unit employees; and (3) additional supervisory overtime, which would be necessary to oversee the expanded schedules.

CONCLUSIONS

    We find it unnecessary to consider the Employer's arguments regarding the negotiability of the Union's proposal because, in our view, the Employer's alternative proposal provides the more reasonable resolution of the dispute. In this regard, it strikes a better balance by maximizing interaction between General Schedule and Wage Grade employees while making every effort to accommodate employee preferences. In addition, the schedule should allow customers greater access to unit employees, thereby enhancing the installation's ability to accomplish its mission. The Union, on the other hand, has provided insufficient support for its approach, particularly given that a prior 4-10 experiment was unsuccessful. Its proposal also appears fiscally unsound, as it would result in a significant increase in costs to the Employer, with little or no offsetting benefits. Moreover, in view of the installation's recent brush with closure, adoption of a work practice that might lessen its overall competitiveness is unwarranted. Accordingly, we shall order adoption of the Employer's proposal.

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 pursuant to the Panel's regulations, 5 C.F.R. § 2471.6 (a)(2), the Federal Service Impasses Panel under § 2471.11(a) of its regulations hereby orders the following:

    The parties shall adopt the Employer's proposal.

 

By direction of the Panel.