DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS METROPOLITAN DETENTION CENTER LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA and LOCAL 4038, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO

In the Matter of

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS

METROPOLITAN DETENTION CENTER

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

 

 

 

 

 

 

Case No. 99 FSIP 11

and

LOCAL 4038, AMERICAN FEDERATION

OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO

ARBITRATOR’S OPINION AND DECISION

    Local 4038, American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), AFL-CIO (Union), filed a request for assistance with the Federal Service Impasses Panel (Panel) to consider a negotiation impasse under section 7119 of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute between it and the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), Metropolitan Detention Center, Los Angeles, California (Employer). After investigation of the request for assistance, the Panel asserted jurisdiction and directed that the parties’ dispute over allowances for safety-toed footwear be submitted to the undersigned for mediation-arbitration.

    Accordingly, on January 28, 1999, the undersigned met with the parties at the Employer’s facility. Through mediation efforts, the parties resolved only two issues.(1) On the remaining two issues, they were afforded an opportunity to submit proposals and make supporting arguments. The record is now closed.

BACKGROUND

    The BOP is responsible for "protect[ing] society by confining offenders in prisons and community-based facilities" and "provid[ing] work and other self-improvement opportunities to assist offenders to be law-abiding citizens." The Employer, which is in BOP’s Western Region, is 1 of 93 Federal correctional institutions nationwide; it houses about 1,035 inmates, most of whom are pretrial offenders (i.e., those incarcerated while awaiting trail in Federal courts for the Central District of California). The Union represents about 200 Wage Grade and General Schedule (GS) employees who are part of a nationwide bargaining unit of about 23,000; the overwhelming majority of them are correctional officers in pay grades GS-4 through -8. The dispute affects uniformed employees who make up almost all of the bargaining unit. The parties are covered by a Master Collective Bargaining Agreement (MCBA) between BOP and the Council of Prison Locals C-33, AFGE, AFL-CIO, which is due to expire on March 8, 2001.

ISSUES

    The parties disagree over whether employees should be: (1) permitted to waive the allowance; and (2) required to provide a receipt as proof of purchase.

POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES

1. The Union’s Position

    The Union proposes the following:

In regard to the notification process, [] Local 4038 agree[s] that [the] staff shall be notified of their entitlement to safety-toed shoes as a result of working in foot hazard areas. The allocation of money direct[ly] deposited to the employee's account is for the purpose of purchasing safety-toed shoes. It is expected and required that each employee working in a foot hazard area wear safety-toed shoes.

The Union disagrees with a waiver and receipt system because these obligations are not part of the MCBA which states, in pertinent part, that "[t]he cost and quality of [][safety-toed] footwear will be negotiated locally." Waivers are unnecessary and requiring purchase receipts and refund of unspent dollars is unjustified. Moreover, since the safety-toed footwear allowance is covered under the MCBA article entitled "Uniform Clothing," it should not be treated differently than the clothing allowance. The same process that applies to the disbursement of clothing allowance should apply to the shoe allowance; that process does not include providing proof of purchase or refunding any unused funds.

2. The Employer’s Position

    The Employer proposes the following language:

As a result of the agency's requirement to purchase safety-toed footwear, employees will be required to provide a receipt for proof of purchase. Any allotted money not spent on safety toed footwear will be refunded to the U.S. Treasury Department.

Eligible staff may waive any safety-toed footwear allotment.

It is the responsibility of all eligible uniformed staff to submit an acknowledgment form for his/her safety-toed footwear to the Financial Management Department. (This form will be forwarded to each eligible employee by Financial Management s