DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS VETERANS AFFAIRS MEDICAL CENTER DETROIT, MICHIGAN and LOCAL 933, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO
In the Matter of
DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
VETERANS AFFAIRS MEDICAL
Case No. 96 FSIP 113
LOCAL 933, AMERICAN FEDERATION
OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO
ARBITRATOR’S OPINION AND DECISION
Local 933, American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC), Detroit, Michigan (Employer or Detroit VAMC) filed a joint request for assistance with the Federal Service Impasses Panel to consider a negotiation impasse under section 7119 of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute. After investigation of the request for assistance, the Panel asserted jurisdiction and directed the parties to expedited arbitration(1) with the undersigned.
Accordingly, on August 15, 1996, representatives from the Union and the Detroit VAMC met before me in Detroit. Following a brief mediation effort, the parties engaged in arbitration proceedings, in which each side presented testimony and exhibits. I have considered the entire record, which is now closed.
Two months ago, the Detroit VAMC relocated from Allen Park, Michigan, to a medical complex in Detroit, a move of about 14 miles. The new facility has an indoor parking garage, the construction of which exceeded $500,000.(2) Parking at Allen Park had been free.
The parties disagree over what the parking fee should be at the new Detroit VAMC.
1. The Employer’s Position
The Employer proposes a monthly fee of $50 and a daily rate of $1.75. Its proposal is based solely upon a survey conducted by a VA-approved appraiser to determine the fair market value of parking at the new facility. The universe of the survey was comparable commercial parking facilities within a 2-mile radius of Detroit VAMC. This survey valued the Detroit VAMC parking spaces at $100 a month. Applying the VA regulations, the Employer halved the fair market rate and proposed a $50 fee.
In support of its proposal, the Employer presented documentary evidence and testimony that (1) the appraisal complied with VA regulations and (2) Detroit VAMC was required to apply the results of the appraisal survey in the manner described.
2. The Union’s Position
The Union proposes a $7.50 monthly parking fee. Its proposal is based upon VA requirements that (1) a parking fee must be imposed as the construction costs exceeded $500,000, and (2) the minimum parking fee can be no lower than the lowest fee charged for parking at any VA facility.
In support of its proposal, the Union presented evidence and testimony that the $50 fee (1) is out of line with that charged by the nearest VAMC at Ann Arbor, 30 miles away; (2) is unduly burdensome on employees as it ignores the additional costs of commuting for this "forced" move; (3) does not take into account the additional city of Detroit tax burden to be shouldered by all employees as a result of the relocation (1.5 percent for nonresidents, 3 percent for residents); and (4) will have a negative impact on recruitment since Detroit VAMC medical neighbors provide free employee parking. In addition, testimony was given concerning the lack of adequate public transportation which could serve as an alternative to employees’ driving to work.
ANALYSIS AND CONCLUSIONS
Both VA regulations and the underlying statute give the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs discretion to establish fees "which . . . are reasonable under the circumstances." It is undisputed that the parking survey was properly conducted and the $50 monthly fee proposal derived solely from that survey. I am persuaded, however, that consideration of the circumstances surrounding the move from Allen Park to Detroit warrants a smaller fee. These circumstances include: (1) a new employee tax burden, (2) additional employee commuting costs, (3) impact of the fee on both morale and recruitment, and (4) comparability to parking fees charged at a VAMC facility within the commuting area. The $7.50 proposal of the Union, however, is unrealistically low given comparable facilities in the area and the substantially improved parking conditions offered by the Detroit VAMC. I shall therefore order a compromise fee which takes into account the foregoing matters.
The monthly parking fee shall be $16.25 and the daily rate shall be $1.
August 19, 1996
1.On June 7, 1996