DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE GRISSOM AIR FORCE BASE GRISSOM AFB, INDIANA and LOCAL 3254, 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

GRISSOM AIR FORCE BASE

GRISSOM AFB, INDIANA

and

LOCAL 3254, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF

GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO

Case No. 93 FSIP 154

DECISION AND ORDER

    Local 3254, American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO (Union) and Department of the Air Force, Grissom Air Force Base, Grissom AFB, Indiana (Employer) filed a joint 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.

    After investigation of the request for assistance, the Panel directed the parties to participate in a telephone conference with Staff Associate Gladys M. Hernandez for the purpose of resolving the dispute over groundrules for successor agreement negotiations. The parties were advised that if no settlement were reached, Ms. Hernandez would report to the Panel on the status of the dispute, including the parties' final offers, and her 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.

    Ms. Hernandez held a telephone conference with the parties on September 29, 1993. With her assistance, the parties resolved five of the seven outstanding issues. She has reported to the Panel on the two remaining issues based on the record developed by the parties. The Panel has now considered the entire record.

BACKGROUND

    The base is home to the 305th Air Refueling Wing, the host activity, whose mission is to "train and maintain a combat support force readily capable of projecting global air power," and two tenant activities, the 434th Reserve Refueling Wing and the 930th Reserve Operational Group.(1) The Union represents approximately 656 General Schedule and Wage Grade employees working for the host and tenant activities in a variety of positions. Pursuant to its terms, the parties' 3-year collective-bargaining agreement (CBA) was automatically rolled over every year from August 1983, when its original term expired, until 1992, when the Union requested to negotiate over a successor; it will remain in effect until a successor agreement is implemented.

ISSUES AT IMPASSE

    The parties disagree over (1) the length of negotiations and (2) the format of the initial proposals.

POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES

1. Length of Negotiations(2)

    a. The Employer's Position

    The Employer proposes that, before requesting the assistance of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), the parties negotiate for 4 weeks, break for 2, and resume for 4 more, for a total of 8 weeks of face-to-face negotiations, which may be extended by mutual agreement. This schedule evidences the "win-win" approach to contract negotiations espoused by the Vice President in his recent National Performance Review report. In this regard, during the first 4 weeks at the bargaining table, the parties would "discuss, explain, and answer questions" concerning their proposals looking toward "clarify[ing] the major issues requiring further negotiations and [reaching] agree[ment] on the neutral areas." The 2-week break would allow the parties to draft counterproposals consistent with the earlier discussions for negotiations during the last 4 weeks. A shorter period of time at the table than proposed by the Union is necessary because its intended bargaining representatives are already strapped for time given their involvement in realignment-related matters. Moreover, the existing CBA is not "totally out of date," as the Union argues. It has been "kept up to date with many [negotiated] changes." Also, the parties have already negotiated and agreed upon two contract articles -- alternative work schedules (AWS) and performance evaluation standards (PES). Finally, the Union's statement that the successor will be the "'mother-of-all contracts'," and that the Employer should "anticipate lengthy articles" shows that the Union, unlike the Employer, has adopted "a time consuming, archaic, [and] 'win-lose' approach to [successor] negotiations."

    b. The Union's Position

    The Union proposes that the parties meet for 12 weeks of negotiations, and an additional 3 if mutually agreed upon, before requesting the assistance of the FMCS. This proposal, although not what the Union had "originally envisioned as necessary," is what the Panel's representative recommended in settlement of the issue, and "within the realm of reasonableness." It can live with 12 weeks for negotiating a successor to a 13-year old CBA with 50 or so articles, 5 or 6 of which are major ones. This would amount to almost the same total number of hours that the parties recently spent negotiating over the AWS and PES articles. Finally, it is unnecessary to mandate a negotiation break since (1) the groundrules already "inherently provide[] for mutual[ly] agreeable breaks in negotiations," and (2) the Union has a history of accommodating the Employer's requests for breaks because of "holidays, TDYs, inspections, and conflicts with pressing priority issues."

CONCLUSIONS

    Having evaluated the arguments presented, we conclude that the parties should adopt the Union's proposal as recommended to the parties by the Panel's representative. Given the circumstances of this case, we are persuaded that it provides for the more reasonable amount of time for fruitful negotiations on their successor agreement. In this regard, we note that: (1) the scope of bargainable matters has been expanded since the parties last negotiated a contract in 1980; (2) the parties recently spent almost the same amount of time negotiating over just two major issues, and a number of others still remain; and (3) the importance of thorough CBA negotiations in the Federal sector has been heightened following several recent Federal Labor Relations Authority decisions narrowing the potential for mid-term negotiations by its new definition of what is considered "contained in" or "covered by" a negotiated agreement.(3) Moreover, we find it unnecessary to mandate a negotiation break since it is undisputed that the Union has a history of accommodating the Employer's requests for breaks if other matters are pressing. Finally, the Employer's argument that a lesser amount of time at the table would be more conducive to "win-win" bargaining is unconvincing.

2. Format of Initial Proposals

    a. The Employer's Position

    The Employer proposes that each page of proposals "be numbered, double spaced, and typed on the front side only." Requiring the parties to exchange typed proposals, which is consistent with current business practice, "is essential for a clear and concise starting point for negotiations." Moreover, it is "appropriate" because the Union has: (1) a computer available in its office, (2) submitted typewritten proposals in past negotiations, and (3) volunteered to "retype" agreements reached in other negotiations. Finally, while its proposal would "facilitate the bargaining process," the Union's would "create confusion and delay agreement."

    b. The Union's Position

    The Union proposes that the parties make "every reasonable effort" to type their proposals; if handwritten, however, they must be in "a neat, orderly, [and] legible format." Whether typed or handwritten, each page of proposals is to be numbered. It will "make every effort" to type its proposals because it recognizes their "convenience." Typed proposals should not be mandated, however, because: (1) in past negotiations the Union has willingly submitted such proposals; (2) the Union does not have "the resources available that management has at its disposal;"(4) and (3) it may keep "last minute proposals" from getting to the table since the parties have already agreed that, after their exchange of the initial proposals, "no additional subjects may be introduced" except by mutual agreement (Groundrules section 4.K.).

CONCLUSIONS

    Having evaluated the proposals, we shall order the parties to adopt the Employer's, which also was recommended to the parties by the Panel's representative. Requiring the parties to type their initial proposals should facilitate the bargaining process. Moreover, in our view, the Union has the resources available to type its initial bargaining proposals without hardship, as it admittedly has in the past. In this regard, the record indicates that it will have 4 representatives on 100 percent official time on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays for preparation the 45 days preceding the parties' exchange of initial proposals,(5) as well as a word processor.

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:

1. Length of Negotiations

    The parties shall adopt the Union's proposal.

2. Format of Initial Proposals

    The parties shall adopt the Employer's proposal.

 

By direction of the Panel.

 

 

Linda A. Lafferty

Executive Director

 

1.This active base is currently undergoing a realignment, which is expected to be completed by September 1994, and will become a reserve base with the departure of the 305th Air Refueling Wing.

2.The parties have already agreed to meet on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with a 45-minute lunch break, for however many weeks the Panel orders.

3.See, for example, Social Security Administration, Tucson District Office, Tucson, Arizona and American Federation of Government Employees, Council 147, AFL-CIO, 47 FLRA No. 99 (June 30, 1993); and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Social Security Administration, Baltimore, Maryland and American Federation of Government Employees, National Council of Social Security Administration Field Office Locals, Council 220, 47 FLRA No. 96 (June 30, 1993), among others.

4.It has a word processor only in its office located in "a condemned building" which "flood[s] with every hard rain."

5.This was agreed upon by the parties during the