DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY ARMY ARMOR CENTER AND FORT KNOX FORT KNOX, KENTUCKY AND LOCAL 2302, 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
ARMY ARMOR CENTER AND FORT KNOX
FORT KNOX, KENTUCKY
LOCAL 2302, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF
GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO
Case No. 94 FSIP 169
DECISION AND ORDER
The Department of the Army, Army Armor Center and Fort Knox, Fort Knox, Kentucky (Employer), 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 Local 2302, American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO (Union).
After investigation of the request for assistance, the Panel determined that the impasse concerning smoking policy should be resolved through the issuance to the parties of an Order to Show Cause why the Panel should not order wording it adopted previously in substantially similar cases.(1) After considering the parties' responses to the Order to Show Cause, the Panel would take whatever action it deemed appropriate to resolve the impasse. Written statements of position and final offers were made pursuant to this procedure and the Panel has considered the entire record.
The Employer's mission is to provide basic training and advance individual training to armor soldiers. The Union represents approximately 2,500 bargaining-unit employees who hold professional and nonprofessional positions such as accountant, attorney, clerk, education specialist, engineer, janitor, mechanic, and truck driver. These employees are scattered throughout the installation, which has over 100 buildings. The parties recently completed negotiations over a new collective-bargaining agreement (CBA) that they anticipate will be implemented soon.
ISSUE AT IMPASSE
The parties essentially disagree over the extent to which smoking indoors should be prohibited, the extent to which outdoor protection should be provided to smokers, and when the prohibition should go into effect.
POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES
1. The Employer's Position
The Employer generally agrees with the Panel's proposed wording, but offers some modifications "for clarity." It proposes the following:
(1) The smoking of tobacco products in any Fort Knox workplace is prohibited; (2) The Employer shall designate outdoor smoking areas that (a) are reasonably accessible to employees and (b) provide a measure of protection from precipitation. The designation of outdoor areas will not alter the immediate effect of the workplace smoking ban; and (3) Employees shall be offered one smoking cessation course at no cost. Interested employees shall be given administrative leave, workload permitting, to attend the course.
Modifying the prohibition on indoor smoking to include "employee workplaces" is reasonable because this would encompass the current ban on smoking in Government vehicles and aircraft. This was part of its proposal during negotiations, and was not objected to by the Union. Changing "elements" to "precipitation" would avoid any mistaken expectation that either heating or air conditioning is to be provided in outdoor areas, while still requiring a measure of protection from rain, snow, hail, and sleet. Finally, specifying that only "one" smoking cessation program would be offered to employees, coupled with the ban on workplace smoking, "may provide the motivation necessary" to cause smokers to overcome the habit.
2. The Union's Position
The Union proposes that smoking be allowed indoors in areas where there are adequate facilities that protect employees from second-hand smoke. Where there are no possible indoor solutions, the parties would designate outdoor areas that are reasonably accessible to employees and provide protection from the elements. Under no circumstances would smokers be forced outside before the protection from the elements are in place across the entire bargaining unit. Finally, the Union also proposes that: (1) the Employer provide "smoking cessation course" at no cost; (2) interested employees be placed on administrative leave, workload permitting, to attend the course; and (3) "patches" be made available "with the Employer and employee sharing the costs equally."
There are smoking rooms in buildings at Fort Knox that are more than adequate to allow indoor smoking. Further, many can be upgraded at less expense than providing smokers protection from the elements. Thus, there can still be a smoke-free environment while indoor areas for smokers are provided. If employees are going to be forced to smoke outside, however, outside protection for all smokers should be in place prior to implementation. Also, because a cessation program alone is not enough to help employees stop smoking, smoke patches should be made available, with the parties to share the cost equally. Such programs now supply the military with patches.
Having considered the evidence and arguments in this case, we conclude that no cause has been shown why the wording provided by the Panel should not be adopted. In general, while the Employer essentially agrees with our wording, we believe the modifications it suggests are unnecessary. Moreover, in our view it has failed to demonstrate why we should include additional wording permitting an immediate prohibition on indoor smoking before outdoor smoking areas and a smoking cessation course have been provided to accommodate smokers. The Union's proposal, on the other hand, fails to give sufficient consideration to the seriousness of the health issue involved. In this regard, there is no evidence in the record to support the view that currently available indoor smoking areas could be upgraded at reasonable expense so as to eliminate the scientifically-proven adverse affects of second-hand smoke on the health of employees.(2)
Finally, while the Union's proposal that the Employer and employees who wish to stop smoking share the cost of nicotine patches appears to have some merit, there is insufficient information in the record on the costs and success rate of such programs to justify ordering its adoption. Furthermore, nothing indicates that the parties have addressed the matter during their fa