DEPARTMENT OF LABOR CHICAGO REGIONAL OFFICE CHICAGO, ILLINOIS and NATIONAL COUNCIL OF FIELD LABOR LOCALS, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO

United States of America

BEFORE THE FEDERAL SERVICE IMPASSES PANEL

In the Matter of

DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

CHICAGO REGIONAL OFFICE

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

and

NATIONAL COUNCIL OF FIELD LABOR

LOCALS, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF

GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO

Case No. 95 FSIP 27

 

DECISION AND ORDER

    The Department of Labor, Chicago Regional Office, Chicago, Illinois (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 the National Council of Field Labor Locals, American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO (NCFLL or Union).

   After investigation of the request for assistance, the Panel determined that the dispute, which concerns office space for AFGE Local 648, should be resolved through an informal telephone conference between a Panel representative and the parties. If no settlement were reached, the representative was to notify the Panel of the status of the dispute, including the final offers of the parties and the representative's recommendations for resolving the matter. Following notification, the Panel would take whatever action it deemed appropriate to resolve the impasse.

    In accordance with this procedural determination, Panel Representative (Staff Attorney) Harry E. Jones conducted a telephone conference with the parties on February 23 and 24, 1995. During that proceeding, the parties were unable to reach agreement on the two outstanding issues. Accordingly, Mr. Jones has reported to the Panel, and it has now considered the entire record.

BACKGROUND

    The Employer's mission is to administer, in the Chicago Region, a wide variety of Department of Labor (DOL) programs. The Union represents a nationwide unit of approximately 8,000 employees who work in DOL field offices nationwide. The parties are covered by a master agreement between DOL and NCFLL which is due to expire on September 30, 1996. They have reached impasse following regional-level negotiations(1) pursuant to a reopener provision contained in a 1980 settlement agreement.(2)

ISSUES

    There are two separate issues in dispute:(3) (1) the retention of office space for AFGE Local 648; and (2) whether this agreement should establish a precedent.(4)

1. Retention of Office Space by Local 648

    a. The Union's Position

    The Union proposes the following wording:

Union Local 648 will retain use of current office space until end of current agreement (Sept. 30, 1996) unless extended [through] mutual agreement. When contract is opened, 648 office space will be a negotiable issue.

This proposed wording is reasonable, as Local 648 would retain the use of its current office space for a limited period of time; this would give the local an ample amount of time to plan for the possibility that office space may not be provided under the terms of a successor master agreement. In addition, since the proposal expressly provides that the issue of office space for Local 648 is a negotiable item, it should help avoid future negotiability disputes. The Employer's proposal, on the other hand, does not adequately flesh out the option which was developed during the IBB sessions, as it contains a reference to a contract provision which was never discussed. Finally, the Employer's proposal is confusing because it does not identify Local 648 as the occupant of the office space.

    b. The Employer's Position

    The Employer's proposal is as follows:

In accordance with the provisions of Article 52, Section 1,(5) the union will retain the use of current office space until the end of the Master Agreement (Sept. 30, 1996) or for such time as the Agreement might be extended by the Department and the NCFLL.

This wording is more appropriate because it is consistent with the provisions of the parties' master agreement. The Union's proposed language should be rejected since the negotiability of office space has never been in dispute.

CONCLUSIONS

    Having examined the record on this issue, we conclude that neither party's proposal is adequate to resolve the matter. In their respective final offers, both parties have included wording which is not reflective of the consensus developed during the IBB sessions. In this regard, the Employer has included a new reference to Article 52 of the master agreement, while the Union has added a sentence relating to the negotiability of office space proposals. Because of these deficiencies, we shall order adoption of a compromise provision which, in our view, addresses more precisely the interests which surfaced during the parties' facilitated discussions.

2. Whether This Agreement Should Establish a Precedent

    a. The Union's Position

    The Union's proposal is:

    Remove whipsawing issue from agreement.

The parties agreed during their 1991 master agreement negotiations that local union office space issues would not be bargained at the national level. Accordingly, supplemental agreements at the regional or local level are an appropriate way of addressing the issue.

    b. The Employer's Position

    The Employer's proposed wording is as follows:

The provisions of space and equipment under this MOU [are] on a non-precedent basis.

Adoption of this wording would preserve the integrity of the IBB process, as both parties would be required to live with the consensus solution that was developed during the meetings. In addition, allowing sidebar agreements such as this to establish precedent would deter the Employer from entering into such arrangements in the future; this, in turn, would have a chilling effect on the parties' ability to resolve problems at either the local or regional level.

CONCLUSIONS

    Having examined the record on this issue, we conclude that the parties should be bound by the consensus solution that they developed during the interest-based negotiations. In our view, this approach preserves the integrity of the IBB process by requiring both sides to honor the commitments which they made during the facilitated work sessions. On the merits, we believe that the consensus solution is reasonable, as it provides an accommodation for one local union without "opening the floodgates" for bargaining over the issue outside the boundaries of the master agreement. Because the Employer's proposal is consistent with the IBB consensus solution, we shall order its adoption.(6)

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 parties to adopt the following:

1. Retention of Office Space

    The parties shall adopt the following wording:

AFGE Local 648 will retain its current office space until the expiration date of the parties' Master Agreement (September 30, 1996) or for such time as the Master Agreement might be extended by the parties.

2. Whether This Agreement Should Establish a Precedent

    The parties shall adopt the Employer's proposal.

 

By direction of the Panel.

Linda A. Lafferty

Executive Director

March 15, 1995

Washington, D.C.

 

1.Although the level of recognition is at the national level, the negotiations were between Employer representatives from the Chicago Regional Office and a Union-designated Regional Collective-Bargaining Committee.

2.The settlement agreement, dated August 7, 1980, provides as follows: 

The following commitment is made as a complete settlement of a pending arbitration case between the Department of Labor and the NCFLL, listed as OLMR Case No. ARB-5-OSHA-79-007 and FMCS Case No. 79K/11946.