DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA and PATENT OFFICE PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION



In the Matter of

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE

ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA










Case No. 99 FSIP 15

and

PATENT OFFICE PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION

ARBITRATOR'S OPINION AND DECISION


    The Department of Commerce, Patent and Trademark Office, Arlington, Virginia (Employer) 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 Patent Office Professional Association (Union). After investigation of the request for assistance, the Panel asserted jurisdiction and directed that the parties' dispute over a new consolidated facility be submitted to the undersigned for mediation-arbitration. Under the procedure, if the issuance of a binding decision became necessary, the Panel directed that the arbitrator would be limited to selecting from among the parties' final offers/proposals with respect to each of 19 subject-matter groupings specified in the determination letter, insofar as the proposals otherwise appear to be legal and remain at impasse.

    Accordingly, on February 16 through 18, 1999, the undersigned met with the parties at the Employer's facility. Through mediation efforts, the parties resolved numerous issues. At the start of this proceeding there were about 135 Union proposals and 40 Management proposals on the table. By the completion of the third day of this proceeding, the parties were close to agreement on a majority of the outstanding issues and the parties agreed to continue their negotiations and to submit for arbitration those issues remaining at impasse in accordance with the Panel's directive. The initial date for submission was February 26. This time frame was then extended, after a report from the parties, and a request for additional time from the Union, to March 5, 1999. On that date, the parties made their submissions and the record is now closed.

BACKGROUND

    The Employer's mission is to issue patents and register trademarks. The Union represents approximately 2,200 bargaining-unit employees, located among at least six buildings, who work as patent examiners and classifiers. After years of litigation, the parties still do not agree whether their 1986 master collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is in effect. It appears that negotiations over a successor agreement are not currently being contemplated by either party.

ISSUES

With respect to the following groups of proposals(1) the parties submitted alternative proposals and supporting arguments for the arbitrator to resolve; with regard to the remaining proposals, the language ordered reflects language agreed to by the parties:

Group 1 Future Bargaining and Continuation of Past Practices:

PTO - M1ax (Mgt 1);

POPA - PLBO 1 (Union 1)

Group 4 Window Space:

PTO - M141, M3;

POPA - Union 3b, M141 (both parties include M141)

Group 14 Parking:

PTO - M46ax, 46g (no management proposal in original submission

POPA - PLBO 46(a)(c)(d)(e)(f) (Union 46)

Group 16 Carpeting, Painting, Finishing, etc.:

PTO - M64a, M65a

POPA - PLBO 65(a)(b)(c); M65a (both parties include M65a)


Group 17 Timing of Construction/Maintenance work:

PTO - M67, M/U127, M/U128

POPA - M/U127, M/128, U67 (both have identical language in 127 and 128)

POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES

I. Group 1. Future Bargaining and Continuation of Past Practice

    a. The Employer's Proposal:

    Management in effect offers two last, best offers. Its preferred language is:

 

M1ax. Except for items reserved without prejudice, enumerated in group 21, the parties agree that they have resolved their bargaining rights and obligations over the issues at impasse. They also agree that there are relocation issues that may be appropriate for future bargaining such as but not limited to, accommodations for construction disturbance during initial occupancy, move-related issues, travel time, and issues related to placement of support functions.

It offers an alternative proposal that is a version of the Union's proposal in which the last sentence of the Union proposal is moved to be the third sentence of the proposal.

b. The Union's Proposal:

PLBO 1. Except for items reserved without prejudice, enumerated in Group 21, the parties have resolved their bargaining rights and obligations over the issues at impasse. Items in Group 21 shall be negotiated upon request of either party. Other issues not included in Group 21, which are appropriate for future bargaining, such as but not limited to, move-related issues, travel time, and issues related to placement of support functions, will be partnered and if agreement is not reached, will be negotiated. This shall not bind the Agency to negotiate over proposals which otherwise are deemed non-negotiable.

CONCLUSIONS

    The Employer's submission makes plain that the issue here is its concern that the language not obligate it to negotiate over all items reserved in group 21 regardless of how it views the negotiability of any of those proposals (which it has already challenged in some instances). That there is no dispute about the negotiability of the enumerated items is clear from the Employer's alternative last offer. As far as the Arbitrator is concerned, the meaning of the Union's final offer and the Employer's alternative final offer are identical. The Employer's not being barred from raising negotiability in future bargaining over Group 21 proposals is contemplated by the Union's language. For this reason the Union's last best offer will be adopted with the last sentence moved to be the third sentence.

II. Group 2. Office Space

1. The provisions of this agreement shall take precedence over all prior agreements and past practices while not negating any provisions in those prior agreements and past practices which are not inconsistent with this agreement. The parties hereby reaffirm Article 16 and the Ross award in Appendix B to the extent not inconsistent with this new agreement on space allocation. The consolidated facility will be a non-smoking facility, and the impact and implementation of this change will be negotiated beginning prior to the move.

2. Each professional will be provided with a private, wall-enclosed (full ceiling height) office of approximately 150 sq. ft. whenever possible. Approximately 150 square feet means no less than 145 sq. ft. of actual interior office space.

3. When it is not possible to provide 150 sq. ft. private offices to all unit members, then the PTO may double up employees in grades GS-12 and below in offices of approximately 150 sq. ft., but not employees at GS-13 and above, who will be guaranteed private offices of 150 sq. ft. each.

4. EXCEPTION. Notwithstanding the above provisions, bargaining unit members who are in occupations outside of the GS-122x series and who are part of an organizational unit housed on a floor of a building having a universal room size of 120 sq. ft. may be placed in private, wall-enclosed (full ceiling height) offices of 120 sq. ft. and may not be doubled.

5. The joint use space delineated at SFO section G15 will be incorporated at the consolidated facility.

6. All other proposal packages will be put before the arbitrator unless agreed to otherwise.

7. POPA agrees to take all actions necessary to withdraw the Petition for Review of Negotiability Issues (0-NG-2481), the Unfair Labor Practice charge alleging repudiation of the basic agreement (WA-CA-90164), the Unfair Labor Practice charge alleging failure to negotiate union proposals concerning transit subsidies, part-time position, and telecommuting (WA-CA-80505), the Unfair Labor Practice charge alleging refusal to negotiate concerning the Solicitation for Offers (WA-CA-70150) and the grievance on space (07-7-ASN-29).

III. Group 3. Information Necessary to Enforce Agreement

140. Copies of the lease, Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), periodic building systems tests, and systems operations and maintenance manuals, maintained by the Office of Administrative Services or equivalent, shall be available for review and copying by the Union.

M117. The Agency shall perform a Building Health Baseline Report for the building space to be occupied by bargaining unit professionals prior to occupancy of the buildings to obtain baseline information on building health and indoor air quality. Criteria for the Building Health Baseline Report shall be based on this agreement and the requirements set forth in the SFO. The Report shall include measurement of air contamination levels, radon, and drinking water quality levels prior to occupancy of each construction phase and then yearly from date of occupancy. The Report shall be provided to the Union.

IV. Group 4. Window Space

a. The Employer's Proposal:

M141. The Office will use best efforts to place distributed space (e.g., file rooms, pantries, copy rooms, etc.) in interior spaces.

M3. The Office will use best efforts to maximize the number of private, exterior offices.

b. The Union's Proposal:
 

3b. The Office will use best efforts to maximize the number of private exterior offices. Whenever possible, all bargaining unit professionals of grade GS-14 and above shall be placed in private exterior offices.

M141. The Office will use best efforts to place distributed space (e.g., file rooms, pantries, copy rooms, etc.) in interior spaces.

CONCLUSIONS

    Management objects to Union language which it suggests guarantees the GS-14 and higher bargaining unit members an exterior office when at this point it cannot be known how many exterior offices will exist in the as yet to be built consolidated facility, or what percentage of the workforce GS-14's will constitute in the future. The Union counters that its "whenever possible" language addresses Management's concerns.

    The Union's argument that the nature of the GS-14 Patent Examiner position justifies an exterior office is reasonable. However, the Arbitrator finds well-founded the Employer's concern that the Union's language would mandate a preference for assigning exterior offices to all members of this group of employees before any other use is made of exterior space, when the implications of that preference cannot be predicted. In these circumstances the Arbitrator is persuaded to adopt the Employer position.

V. Group 5. Lighting
 

M39. Ceiling fluorescent fixtures shall be deep cell parabolic louver.

8b. All bargaining unit professionals will be offered incandescent lighting to achieve a combined total of at least 100 foot-candles at the work surface.

M40. The lighting level generated by the ceiling fixtures measured at the work surface within each bargaining unit professional's office shall be at least 50 foot-candles.

M5. Warm-white fluorescent bulbs shall be used in all bargaining unit professionals' offices rather than cool-white.

M112. In spaces occupied by bargaining unit professionals, the relamping schedule recommended by the manufacturer of the light bulbs used in the buildings will be followed.

M4x. Where practicable, interior walls will be designed utilizing clerestories. In private offices occupied by bargaining unit professionals, the bottom of the clerestory shall be (i) in buildings with 8-foot ceilings, no less than 72 inches above the floor, (ii) in buildings with 9-foot ceilings, no less than 80 inches above the floor. For buildings with ceilings between 8 feet and 9 feet, the minimum height for the bottom of the clerestory would be raised proportionately.

6a. There shall be no occupancy sensor controlled lighting placed in individual offices of bargaining unit professionals.

M10. All exterior windows in areas occupied by bargaining unit professionals shall be equipped with window blinds.

VI. Group 6. Locks and Access

42a. The PTO will provide access for authorized bargaining unit professionals to their designated work areas at all times (i.e., 24 hours per day, 7 days per week).

M11a. Stairways shall provide access to and from all floors to which bargaining unit professionals would normally have access.

42b. Individually keyed door locks will be provided for each office and the bargaining unit professional assigned to the office will be provided with a key.

VII. Group 7. Sight Lines

M13. Where practicable, floors housing bargaining unit professionals will be laid out to have blocked sight lines from office doors.

VIII. Group 8. Amenities

M48. The Office will provide a covered area to accommodate bicycle racks and lockers.

M53. If pantries are present, bargaining unit professionals will have access to all pantries in their work area.

M59. Toilets, urinals and sinks will be equipped with automatic flush and water controls.

M60x. Bathrooms will be equipped with hand towel dispensers which will dispense in a manner so that only the towel itself need be touched.

142. The Health Unit shall be approximately centrally located at the consolidated facility; space for lactation, including storage, shall be incorporated into the Health Unit design.

M52x. Bargaining unit professionals shall not be permitted to utilize refrigerators, microwaves or hot plates within their offices; except in cases of medical need, such as the need to store insulin or lactated milk.

M54. Pantries in all locations occupied by bargaining unit professionals shall be cleaned daily; refrigerators shall be emptied and cleaned weekly.

M55x. Pantries shall include the following: full-size refrigerator, sink/disposal, microwave, counter space, cabinets, and hot water.

IX. Group 9 is omitted because no proposals remain in dispute.

X. Group 10. Health and Safety Issues (including air quality, HVAC, contaminants, emergency)

M22z. On the first business day after a weekend or a federal holiday, air circulation will begin at 4:30 a.m. M30. To the extent pantries, bathrooms and rooms housing copy machines and commonly used printers are stacked from floor to floor, they will be separately exhaust ventilated.

M64d. Water-based latex glue will be used to adhere baseboards.

M64c. No isocyanate, oil or turpentine based paints will be utilized. Low VOC paints will be used.

M19a. To the extent commercially practicable, all carpeting products used in the building will be low VOC products which are cleanable without the use of organic solvent containing cleaners and to the extent commercially practicable, shall be cleaned without the use of organic solvent containing cleaners.

M33a. In selecting furnishings, minimizing formaldehyde, total aldehydes, total VOCs and particulates will be one of the evaluation factors.

M20x. For initial tenant construction for the consolidated facility, from the date of space acceptance to two weeks after completion of installation of carpeting, painting and new furniture in a zone, the ventilation will be run full time with maximum fresh air intake to that zone.

M62. The carpet vacuums used in the offices of bargaining unit professionals shall be equipped with HEPA filtration.

XI and XII. Groups 11 and 12 are omitted because no proposals remain in dispute.

XIII. Group 13. Technical Libraries

M41a. Where there are technical libraries, they will be located proximate to the bargaining unit professionals they are intended to serve.

41b. A joint labor/management committee will be formed within three months of lease award and will recommend the location and organization of the technical libraries within six months of its formation.

XIV. Group 14: Parking

a. The Employer's Proposal:

M46ax. For up to 3500 parking spaces, any bargaining unit professional who has a parking permit assigned through the Office of Administrative Services at the time of initial relocation to the consolidated facility shall be guaranteed a parking space at the consolidated facility. A parking agreement regarding after working hours and weekend parking, availability of hourly and daily parking, and allocation of any parking spaces in excess of 3500, if available, will be partnered and/or negotiated commencing within one year of award of the lease for the consolidated facility. 

46g. Bargaining unit professionals hired after moving to the new building will be eligible for parking through an agency wide waiting list.

b. The Union's Proposal:
 

PLBO 46(a). Except for PTO parking spaces required to be set aside by government-wide regulations on parking, the PTO shall assign a parking permit at the consolidated facility to every bargaining unit professional who has a parking permit assigned through the Office of Administrative Services or its equivalent at the time of initial relocation to the consolidated facility.

PLBO 46 (b). Bargaining unit professionals moving from Crystal City to the consolidated facility shall, after the needs of existing parking permit holders at the Crystal City location have been met pursuant to subsection 46(a), be offered any excess parking spaces on the basis of seniority in the PTO in an equitable manner with other PTO employees.

PLBO 46(c). All bargaining unit professionals will have access to parking at the consolidated facility after 6 PM and before 6 AM on weekdays and at all hours on weekends and federal holidays.

PLBO 46(d). All parking areas and walkways to and from parking provided for bargaining unit professionals shall have a personal emergency safety notification system.

PLBO 46(e). A reasonable number of temporary parking spaces (i.e. hourly and daily) will be available for bargaining unit professionals for use during weekdays between 6 AM and 6 PM.

PLBO 46 (f). There will be environmentally enclosed walkways between all parking facilities provided for bargaining unit professionals and buildings housing bargaining unit professionals.

PLBO 46(g). Bargaining unit professionals hired after moving to the consolidated facility and bargaining unit professionals whose parking needs have not been met will be eligible for parking through an agency wide waiting list for which bargaining unit professionals will be eligible for parking on a first come first served basis.

CONCLUSIONS

    The Arbitrator adopts the Employer position for the following reasons.

    The Union strongly argues in support of its proposals that management's proposals will leave it without a viable opportunity to bargain over important aspects of parking in the new consolidated facility and that these issues must, therefore, be addressed now.

    Embedded in this argument are many assumptions that it has not adequately supported. One is that the POR that has to be delivered to the bidders at the end of this proceeding allows stipulations as to parking areas and policies. GSA correspondence refers to the POR covering interior spaces. Management maintains without contradiction that it does not have a legal mechanism to force the building owner to provide items proposed by the Union (a security system, environmentally enclosed walkways). Thus the Union has not substantiated its assumption that as future occupant of a privately owned building leased by GSA, PTO can write into the POR the kind of specifications for parking facilities that are contained in the Union's proposals. Nevertheless the Union seeks to have the Employer ordered to provide parking according to these specifications.

    The Union's parking proposals coming at this early stage (pre-lease award, pre-final building design and selection) are also by necessity based on speculation. For instance, there is an assumption that most parking will be underneath the office buildings, but the SFO and management representatives indicate that GSA security requirements dictate that to the extent possible parking lots not be put underneath the buildings. In addition, the Employer raises cost issues about a number of proposals but in present circumstances these are impossible to evaluate. The Union has made only a superficial response to the cost issue. Nor has it supported the feasibility of its proposals with information about comparable parking measures in other federal work sites.

    The Arbitrator does not agree that this is the Union's only realistic chance to negotiate over parking. The opportunity for bargaining contained in management's proposal protects the Union's interest in addressing serious issues of safety and access to the extent of management's authority in these areas as it has been established in this record. Once the configuration of workspace and parking is known with certainty (the lease date), security and access issues will also be much clearer and based on fact, not speculation. There will be ample opportunity to negotiate criteria (like seniority) for allocating spaces exceeding current permit-holders well before building occupancy.

    Another area of concern about the Union's proposals relates to their impact on other, non-bargaining unit employees. Leaving aside the issue of negotiability, this is a relevant consideration on the appropriateness of adopting the Union's proposals on their merits. While the Union repeatedly maintains that it desires only a "proportional" share of parking should the supply of spaces (3,500) not meet demand (not a likely, but a possible scenario), that is not the import of its language in 46(a). On its face that language would require PTO to provide permits to all unit members holding permits regardless of the relationship between the size of the unit and the number of available spaces. A comparison with the language in the Library of Congress case it includes with its arguments is instructive -- the Library union's proposal was plainly proportional, asking for spaces according to a ratio reflecting the percentage of the workforce represented by the bargaining unit. This is not the formulation used here.

XV. Group 15. Union Facilities and Equipment

M49a. POPA will be provided with an approximately 450 square foot interior union office.

M49c. The POPA office will also include office furniture including a table, desk and desk chair, a telephone and a computer linked to the PTO data network.

M49f. A goal of allocating space at the consolidated facility will be to place the POPA office so that it is centrally located to bargaining unit professionals.

M49g. The PTO shall provide POPA's office with standard level buildout.

M49d. The POPA office will be identified on directories in the lobby of each building.

132. POPA shall have equal access to meeting and conference rooms in patent examining space on the same basis as any other employee group or organization in the PTO and POPA shall have access to use of auditorium and cafeteria space on the same basis as any other employee group or organization in the PTO.

XVI. Group 16. Carpeting, Painting, Furnishing, etc.

a. The Employer's Proposal:

M64a. All painted surfaces in bargaining unit professionals' offices shall be repainted every five years. The schedule of such repainting shall be discussed in the quarterly meetings to be held between the Office of Administrative Services and the unions.

M65a. A joint committee with three representatives each from all three bargaining units and management will be established to recommend three color schemes to be used on alternate floors in the facility for paint, carpet and trim for all private offices and common areas on given floors. There will be a maximum of three color choices in the facility and one color choice per floor. This committee will report to the Commissioner within 30 days after its first meeting with its recommendation. After reporting, the committee will be disbanded.

b. The Union's Proposal:

PLBO 65a. All painted surfaces in bargaining unit professionals' offices shall be repainted every five years subject to the following:

Professionals who are entitled to a private, single occupancy office may refuse painting, except in those rare instances in which the office is so dingy that painting is necessary to maintain an appropriate public image for the PTO. Such dingy offices will be repainted.

PLBO 65b. The PTO will use best efforts to paint rooms at times of organizational moves, so that a professional moving into a room previously used by another will have a freshly painted room. And the painting can be accomplished without an extra pack and unpack cycle. Rooms that look clean need not be repainted.

PLBO 65c. The schedule of painting shall be discussed between the parties to avoid disruptions at times needed for concentration on productivity.

M65 a. Same as above in Management proposal.

CONCLUSIONS

    PTO's lease will require the landlord to paint all offices every 5 years at the landlord's cost. The Union's proposal would shift much office painting out of this cycle and this unscheduled painting cost would be absorbed by PTO. The interests asserted by the Union are productivity and the desire of the Patent Examiners to not be unnecessarily disturbed and distracted from their work. Individualizing a policy like office painting is understandably preferable from the employee's point of view but the question is whether the advantage gained justifies an otherwise unnecessary taxpayer cost. While there is a hidden cost from the disruption of work caused by office painting this is difficult to quantify, while the expense of money and administration time for staggered painting of hundreds of offices is plain. No example of how this has successfully worked in a unit of comparable size has been offered.

    The Employer agrees to a consultative process on scheduling of painting that gives the Union input into scheduling to ameliorate disruption. Considering the balance of interests, including those of the public, the Employer's proposal is adopted.

XVII. Group 17. Timing of Construction/Maintenance Work

a. The Employer's Proposal:

M67. After initial occupancy, to the extent practicable, maintenance, painting and construction will be performed at night or off duty hours. When painting or other fume generating maintenance is performed, the applicable 10,000 OSF HVAC zone will be appropriately ventilated to remove the fumes from the buildings.

127. To the extent commercially practicable, bargaining unit professionals' offices will be cleaned without the use of organic solvents.

128. Telephone lines and computer hookups shall be installed prior to occupancy of bargaining unit professional offices.

b. The Union's Proposal:

127. Same as above.

128. Same as above.

67a. To the extent possible, maintenance, painting and construction will be performed at night or off duty hours. This will not be deemed to be possible during initial occupancy and construction of a building.

67b. Whenever painting or other fume generating maintenance is performed, the applicable 10,000 OSF HVAC zone will be appropriately ventilated to remove the fumes from the building.

67c. Whenever construction or maintenance is performed which generates loud noise, bargaining unit professionals will be encouraged to record the time which they have lost due to the noise disturbance accurately. There will be no arbitrary uniform rules about the amount of time that a professional has lost due to the noise disturbance.

CONCLUSIONS

    There is little substantive difference in these proposals.

    The Employer's objection to the Union's formulation of proposal 67 is the wording "whenever possible." However, the Union has disavowed any intention of this being a more stringent standard than management's term "to the extent practicable."

    The other difference concerns Union 67c. Contrary to management's suggestions, the Union's wording does not go beyond encouraging the recording of lost time to prescribe what a supervisor's response is to be to what the employee records. Nothing in the plain words creates any right or benefit but there is a salutary acknowledgment of the potential impact on employees of working in a building still under construction.

    Consequently, the Union's proposal is adopted.

XVIII and XIX. Groups 18 and 19 are omitted since no disputed issues remain.

XX. Group 20. Employee Complaints

M135. Bargaining unit professionals shall be given an organization, telephone number and an E-mail address through which they can lodge any complaint concerning their physical work environment. These complaints will be responded to as soon as practicable. A record shall be kept of the complaint, time of complaint, corrective action, if any, and time of corrective action; and these records shall be available for review and copying by the Union. Management will meet with employee unions on a quarterly basis to discuss the foregoing.

XXI. Group 21. Items Reserved Without Prejudice

111. Flat panel displays of comparable or greater size and resolution as our current monitors will be provided in lieu of the existing cathode ray tube displays in order to save space and energy. 136. Yearly, management will provide the Union by October 1 with current floor plans for the facility which will indicate the size and use of each room or space, and the occupant(s), grade, job title and bargaining unit status for private offices.

36. Since no space has been designated for housing search rooms and examiners will have to supply copies of patents, each bargaining unit professional shall have a desk top printer capable of printing patents from all desk top computer search tools. The printer will be capable of holding a ream of paper and will print at a rate of at least 20 pages per minute.

38. The results of negotiations on the elimination of the paper search files and the implementation of an automated replacement system will be incorporated herein to the extent they impact the space and/or layout of a new consolidated facility. After the completion of an agreement resulting from the negotiations on elimination of the paper search files, a joint committee will be formed to determine the impact of that agreement, if any, and to make any necessary modifications to this agreement. If the joint committee is unable to reach agreement in partnership, then the parties will reenter negotiations to resolve any remaining issues.

57. All pantries in buildings housing bargaining unit professionals shall include one glass enclosed, lockable bulletin board for POPA notices.

130. The Agency shall provide the Union with two lockable bulletin boards and keys for each bank of elevators on each floor occupied by any bargaining unit professionals. To the extent possible, the Union shall make the determination as to the location of the bulletin boards prior to occupancy. A preferred location for the bulletin boards would be an easily readable height on the elevator facade.

131. The agency shall provide the Union with a standard size bulletin board in each printer and each copier room used by bargaining unit professionals.

43. Each bargaining unit professional's office will be provided with a permanently secured lockable storage unit having a size no smaller that 6 cubic feet.

109. When a bargaining unit professional is assigned to a different office, he/she will be permitted to take his/her office furniture and computer equipment to the new office.

110. If the Agency determines that new furniture will be purchased for bargaining unit professionals, a joint labor/management committee will be established to determine choice of and distribution of new furniture. If the committee can not reach agreement in partnership, then the parties will enter into negotiations on this topic.

137. a. Furniture for bargaining unit professionals will be chosen through a joint labor/management partnership committee.

b. The funds made available for each bargaining unit professional's furniture will be the same as those allotted for furniture for each first line supervisor (SPEs and SPCs).

c. If agreement can not be reached in partnership, then the parties will enter negotiations over the topic of furniture for bargaining unit professionals.

102. Because the Space Allocation Plan does not provide for paper search files, it is expected that the number of hours examiners spend at the computer keyboard will increase dramatically. Therefore, a joint management union committee will be formed to determine a choice of three ergonomic keyboards and three ergonomic mice to be offered to each bargaining unit professional.

103. Because the Space Allocation Plan does not provide for paper search files, it is expected that the number of hours examiners spend at the computer keyboard will increase dramatically. Each bargaining unit professional will be offered an ergonomic foot support in order to increase their comfort at the computer.

104. In order to avoid repetitive stress injuries from typing, voice activated software will be provided for all electronic patent examining tasks.

69. a. Time for installation of equipment, during equipment failure, to repair equipment, for training, and for other program related activities, when these conditions and activities occur during the employee's normal working hours, will be accounted for and recorded separately.

b. Management shall track for use in performance appraisal the time for installation of equipment, during equipment failure, to repair equipment, for training, and for other program related activities, when these conditions and activities occur during the employee's normal working hours and hinder the employee in performing his duties.

15. As long as the provisions of proposal 2a. are maintained, meeting rooms (or the equivalent) may be provided.

16. All bargaining unit professionals will have use of and shall be eligible to reserve all meeting rooms and conference rooms within their technology center (or the equivalent) and to any general purpose meeting spaces including large meeting rooms if provided.

17. a. The Office will provide and maintain "Schedule Plus" or equivalent software for the purpose of reserving meeting rooms or conference rooms.

b. Bargaining unit professionals will not be required to explain their intended use of the meeting room and may not be "bumped" by later scheduled meetings.

105. Half of each art unit meeting room will be partitioned into storage areas for the examiners in the art unit. Appropriate storage furniture will be provided.

DECISION

1. Group 1. Future Bargaining and Continuation of Past Practice: The parties shall adopt the Union's proposal, with the last sentence moved to be the third sentence.