DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY FLEET AND INDUSTRIAL SUPPLY CENTER PENSACOLA, FLORIDA and LOCAL 1960, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO

United States of America

BEFORE THE FEDERAL SERVICE IMPASSES PANEL

In the Matter of

DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY

FLEET AND INDUSTRIAL SUPPLY CENTER

PENSACOLA, FLORIDA

and

LOCAL 1960, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF

GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO

Case No. 93 FSIP 235

 

DECISION AND ORDER

    Local 1960, 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 Navy, Fleet and Industrial Supply Center, Pensacola, Florida (Employer or FISC Pensacola).

    After investigation of the request for assistance, the Panel determined that the dispute, which involves break periods, should be resolved on the basis of a single written submission from each party, 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.

BACKGROUND

    The Employer is the administrative manager of supplies for a number of Gulf Coast naval installations. The bargaining unit consists of approximately 200 General Schedule (GS) and Wage Grade (WG) employees who work in a variety of administrative and clerical occupations. Although most unit employees are located in Pensacola, there are small detachments of unit employees located at Naval Station Mobile, Pascagoula Naval Station, and Naval Station Ingleside. The parties' collective-bargaining agreement expired in December 1990, but remains in effect at the present time. FISC Pensacola is due to close at the end of Fiscal Year 1995; its operations are to be divided among other FISC installations as well as Naval Air Station Pensacola. The instant dispute involves only those employees who are physically located at FISC Pensacola.

ISSUE

    The only issue in dispute is what the break policy should be for employees at FISC Pensacola.

POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES

1. The Employer's Position

    The Employer's proposal is set forth in FISC Pensacola Notice 12630. The key provisions are as follows:

3. Policy. A standard Center-wide break policy which requires all employees to remain on the job, except during designated break periods and lunch, is implemented. In addition to the existing lunch-break period, all FISC Pensacola employees will be scheduled two 15-minute breaks per 8-hour work shift, one during the first 4 hours of the shift and one in the second 4 hours of the shift.

4. Action. (a). Departments will grant all employees a 15-minute break during the 0930 to 1030 timeframe of the morning 4 hours and a 15-minute break during the 1300 to 1400 timeframe of the afternoon 4 hours of the scheduled shift. Supervisors will monitor and ensure compliance of all employees. (b). Exceptions. Chatting, smoking and visiting food establishments during conferences/meetings and/or training classes where periodic breaks are taken will be permitted as breaks occur. Smoking during these breaks will be permitted only in designated smoking areas.

Implementing this standardized break policy should result in fewer complaints about unfair or disparate treatment owing to different practices in various work groups. In addition, the proposed policy should be easier to administer than the current system since all employees would be directed to take their breaks during a designated 1-hour time band; the present system, which allows some employees to take breaks at their discretion, has been difficult for supervisors to enforce and administer. Moreover, the proposal would be consistent with that of Defense Distribution Depot Pensacola (DDPF), whose employees have a close interrelationship with FISC Pensacola employees; in this regard, DDPF and FISC Pensacola employees would take breaks at approximately the same time, thereby allowing for better planning and coordination of work flow. Finally, the proposed policy appears to be consistent with prior Panel decisions on this issue.(1)

    The Union's proposal, on the other hand, fails to recognize that allowing employees to take breaks at their discretion has, under the current system, resulted in allegations of disparate treatment. Moreover, its plan also ignores the close interaction between FISC employees and DDPF employees and the fact that consistent break policies are likely to result in enhanced productivity. Overall, the Union's proposal is shortsighted and unlikely to resolve the problem of inequity existing under the current system.

2. The Union's Position

    The Union proposes that: (1) employees be allowed 15 minutes of break time during each half of their shift; (2) at the employee's election, either one 15-minute break, or three 5-minute breaks, be taken; and (3) breaks be taken at the employee's discretion. This standardized policy, if enforced and administered properly, should resolve the problem of inequity created by differing policies in various work groups, and result in fewer complaints about unfair or disparate treatment. The proposal should also provide a better accommodation for smokers and employees who work with computers, as these employees require more frequent breaks; since the latter are particularly susceptible to carpal tunnel syndrome, more frequent breaks may "alleviate this problem." Finally, the Employer has not demonstrated any need to change the existing 15-year practice, which allows employees greater flexibility in selecting their break times.

CONCLUSIONS

    Having considered the evidence and arguments on this issue, we are persuaded that the Employer's proposal should serve as the basis for resolving the dispute. In our view, the amount of break time proposed by the Employer should be sufficient to accommodate the needs of all employees. Also, because the proposal will allow for 15-minute breaks during established morning and afternoon timebands, supervisors should be able to enforce the standardized policy more easily; this, in turn, should eliminate any allegations of unfair or disparate treatment. Finally, because the policy is consistent with that of DDPF, its implementation should result in increased productivity at the installation. Accordingly, we shall order its adoption.

ORDER

    Pursuant to the authority vested in it by section 7119 of 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 under 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.

Linda A. Lafferty

Executive Director

March 10, 1994

Washington, D.C.

 

1.See, for example, Department of the Army, Rock Island Arsenal, Rock Island, Illinois and Local 15, National Federation of Federal Employees, Case No. 90 FSIP 83 (July 3, 1990), Panel Release No. 296; National Archives and Records Administration, National Personnel Records Center, Military Pe