DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT CHICAGO REGIONAL OFFICE CHICAGO, ILLINOIS and LOCAL 911, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO
United States of America
BEFORE THE FEDERAL SERVICE IMPASSES PANEL
|In the Matter of
DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN
CHICAGO REGIONAL OFFICE
LOCAL 911, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF
GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO
Case No. 94 FSIP 14
DECISION AND ORDER
Local 911, 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 Housing and Urban Development, Chicago Regional Office, Chicago, Illinois (Employer).
After investigation of the request for assistance, the Panel determined that the impasse should be resolved through an informal conference between a Panel representative and the parties. If no settlement were reached, the Panel representative was to notify the Panel of the status of the dispute; the notification would include the final offers of the parties and the representative's recommendations for resolving the matter. Following consideration of 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, Panel Chairman Edwin D. Brubeck met with the parties on February 16, 1994, in Chicago, Illinois. During that proceeding, the parties were unable to reach agreement on the outstanding issue. Chairman Brubeck has reported to the Panel, and it has now considered the entire record.
The Employer's mission is to provide affordable housing to eligible members of the public; towards this end, it processes community development grants and loan applications. The Union represents approximately 450 employees who are part of a nationwide consolidated bargaining unit represented by the American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO (AFGE). The parties are covered by the master agreement between the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and AFGE; that agreement expired in June 1993, but remains in effect pending the implementation of a successor. The parties have reached impasse following negotiations over the issue of lunch breaks. Approximately 50 employees, who work in the Office of Public Housing, are affected by this dispute.
The sole issue is what the time band should be during which employees may take their lunch break.
1. The Employer's Position
The Employer proposes the following:
1. For employees in Illinois Operations of the Office of Public Housing, a period of time from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. is the designated lunch period for employees who are on duty in the office. Employees shall have complete freedom to take their lunch at any time in the lunch time band except when management requires employees to work due to unavoidable situations.
2. Employees will not leave for, or otherwise be on, their lunch break before 11 a.m. (The provisions of any applicable collective bargaining agreement between the parties at the national level otherwise apply to the beginning of lunch time.)
3. Employees will not return from the lunch break after 2 p.m. (unless management approves a lunch-band deviation).
4. Employees who are on duty, but not working in the office, are strongly encouraged to take their lunch break between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Adoption of this proposal would allow employees some flexibility in deciding when to break for lunch while ensuring that operational needs are fulfilled. An established 3-hour time band is necessary because of past instances of employees being unavailable for meetings during times which are generally considered to be normal business hours. In this regard, since employees may begin work as late as 9:30 a.m., allowing them to take their lunch break any time thereafter may, in some instances, result in a narrowing of the core hours. The proposed time band is comparable to the policies established in other HUD offices, and is even more liberal than some. Overall, the proposal balances the Employer's mission requirements with the needs of the affected employees.
2. The Union's Position
The Union's proposal is as follows:
1. For employees in Illinois Operations, a period of time from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. is the designated lunch period for employees who are on duty in the office. Employees shall have complete freedom to take their lunch at any time in the lunch time band(s) except when management requires [an] employee to work due to unavoidable situations.
2. Employees will not leave for, or otherwise be on, their lunch break before 10 a.m. on any workday.
3. Employees will not return from the lunch break after 2 p.m. on any workday.
4. Employees who are on duty, but not working in the office, are strongly encouraged to take their lunch break between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
A wider time band is preferable because some employees live a considerable distance from the Chicago Regional Office and begin their commute at a very early hour; thus, an early lunch break is necessary for these workers. In addition, this proposal is consistent with Article 17 of the master agreement, the intent of which was to maximize lunch-period flexibility in order to maintain productivity. Overall, the Employer has not demonstrated a need for its proposal; accordingly, it should be rejected.
Having reviewed the record in this case, we conclude that the Employer's final offer should serve as the basis for resolving the dispute. In our view, an 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. time band is reasonable, and should meet the needs of all employees while addressing the Employer's operational concerns. In this regard, we interpret the Employer's final offer to allow an employee's supervisor the discretion to waive both the 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. time band requirements; thus, special or unique circumstances may be accommodated. In reaching this conclusion, we note that a 3-hour time band is comparable to