DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY REDSTONE ARSENAL SUPPORT ACTIVITY REDSTONE ARSENAL, ALABAMA and LOCAL 1858, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO

United States of America

BEFORE THE FEDERAL SERVICE IMPASSES PANEL

 

In the Matter of

DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY

REDSTONE ARSENAL SUPPORT

ACTIVITY

REDSTONE ARSENAL, ALABAMA

and

LOCAL 1858, AMERICAN FEDERATION

OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO

Case No. 93 FSIP 37

DECISION AND ORDER

    Local 1858, American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO (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, Redstone Arsenal Support Activity, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama (Employer).

    After investigation of the request for assistance, the Panel determined that the dispute, which concerns reduction-in-force (RIFS) procedures, should be resolved through an informal teleconference  with a Panel representative. The parties were advised that if no settlement were reached, the Panel's representative would notify the Panel of the status of the dispute, including the final offers of the parties, and would make recommendations for resolving the impasse. After considering this information, the Panel would take whatever action it deemed appropriate to resolve the impasse, including the issuance of a binding decision.

    Pursuant to the Panel's determination, Staff Associate Nick G. Duris conducted a telephone conference with the parties on February 19, 1993. During the proceeding, the parties were unable to reach agreement on the outstanding issue. Mr. Duris has reported to the Panel, and it has now considered the entire record.

BACKGROUND

    The Employer's mission is to provide a good quality of life to military and civilian personnel in the community. The Union represents approximately 189 nonappropriated-fund instrumentality (NAFI) Wage Grade employees who hold such positions as bartender, cashier, clerk, cook, and secretary. These employees work in various units within the organization,(1) i.e., officers' club, bowling alley, golf course, restaurants. Each unit currently is within the same organization-wide competitive area.(2) The parties are covered by a NAFI agreement between U.S. Army Missile Command and Local 1858, American Federation of Government Employees, which is to expire in March 1994. The dispute arose during negotiations over the Employer's plan to implement a modernized NAFI personnel system which, among other things, would permit it to eliminate positions for business-based reasons.

ISSUE AT IMPASSE

    The parties basically disagree over what rights employees would have if the Employer makes a business-based decision to eliminate positions.

POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES

1. The Employer's Position

    The Employer proposes the following:

It is management's right to make business-based determinations of positions to be affected in a realignment or restructuring. The type of personnel actions to be taken will be based on well-documented business reasons by the head of the activity. When such determination is made, the only employees affected would be the incumbents.

Every effort will be made to place the affected employee. Seniority will be used in making placement to vacant positions. In order to give present employees who may be in endangered positions, ample time to make adjustments, current RIF procedures will be phased out according to the following schedule:

One year after effective date of Agreement: All Clubs.

Two years after effective date of Agreement: Post Restaurants, Golf, and Bowling.

Three years after effective date of Agreement: All other activities.

    Its proposal would minimize the disruptive effect current RIF procedures have on the organization. In this regard, it would prevent the "domino effect" common in the typical bump-and-retreat approach that occurs during a RIF. NAFIs are self-sufficient, dependent solely on the money generated from their business for their survival. Permitting employees to bump into other units could break the cohesiveness of a particular unit, thus possibly causing a once profitable unit to decline. Furthermore, its proposal allows for a phase-in approach which gives employees in endangered positions time to make adjustments. Finally, a generous severance pay structure agreed to by the parties greatly favors senior personnel, and should reduce any anxiety over elimination of positions. It also provides an incentive to place senior employees, since not placing them would require the Employer to expend greater funds.

2. The Union's Position

    The Union essentially proposes to maintain "the current reduction-in-force procedures (based on seniority) as listed in the 3 March 1991 Union-Employer agreement and applicable regulations (AR-215-3) which were in place prior to the modernization concept." This would prevent the Employer from eliminating jobs at will. Under the Employer's proposal, "employees would not have any rights concerning reduction-in-force," and employees could lose their jobs "in a very subjective way." The prevalent bump-and-retreat approach, on the other hand, is a standard RIF procedure which ensures that senior employees will continue employment in other units as long as positions are similar. AR-215-3, which includes a point system based on performance, ensures that seniority will not be the sole factor in determining an employee's bump-and-retreat rights. It would be unfair for employees who have been working at Redstone Arsenal for many years to be removed from service while less senior employees working in similar positions with lower performance appraisals remain. Finally, the Employer's contention that it "would try to retain senior people" to avoid the higher severance-pay expenses is undercut by its unwillingness to agree to bump-and-retreat rights.

CONCLUSIONS

    Having considered the evidence and arguments in this case, we conclude that the impasse should be resolved on the basis of the Union's proposal. In this regard, the evidence in the record fails to persuade us that the Employer has demonstrated a need to eliminate bump-and-retreat rights. The Panel has always been mindful of protecting the job security of senior employees. Some of the employees who would be affected by the Employer's proposal have been working at Redstone Arsenal for many years, and would have no guarantee of being placed should their positions be eliminated for business-based reasons. Furthermore, we believe that many NAFI employees hold positions that can readily be performed by others, thus minimizing any disruptions that may occur during a RIF. Moreover, because AR-215-3 provides for performance credit when determining employees' retention standings, the interests of the Employer in keeping more highly rated employees also should be served. For these reasons, we believe that the Union's proposal is the more equitable resolution to the dispute.

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: