DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY TRIDENT REFIT FACILITY KINGS BAY, GEORGIA and LOCAL LODGE 2783, DISTRICT 112, INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MACHINISTS AND AEROSPACE WORKERS, AFL-CIO

United States of America

BEFORE THE FEDERAL SERVICE IMPASSES PANEL

In the Matter of

DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY

TRIDENT REFIT FACILITY

KINGS BAY, GEORGIA

and

LOCAL LODGE 2783, DISTRICT 112,

INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF

MACHINISTS AND AEROSPACE WORKERS,

AFL-CIO

Case No. 99 FSIP 60

DECISION AND ORDER

    The Department of the Navy, Trident Refit Facility, Kings Bay, Georgia (TRF or Employer) filed a request for assistance with the Federal Service Impasses Panel (Panel) to consider a negotiation impasse between it and Local Lodge 2783, District 112, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO (Union) resulting from an agency determination to terminate a 5-4/9 compressed work schedule (CWS) under the Federal Employees Flexible and Compressed Work Schedules Act of 1982 (Act), 5 U.S.C. §§ 6120-6133.(1)

    Following investigation of the request for assistance, the Panel determined that the impasse should be resolved on the basis of an informal conference, to be preceded by written submissions from each party. Accordingly, Executive Director H. Joseph Schimansky held an informal conference with the parties on April 13, 1999. Although the parties explored settlement possibilities during the informal conference, the dispute was not resolved. Subsequent to the informal conference, the parties also submitted brief written summaries of their positions. The Panel has now considered the entire record.

BACKGROUND

    The Employer’s mission is to repair, overhaul, refurbish, and load, in rotation, the East Coast Fleet of 10 Trident Submarines. The facility also repairs attack boats and other surface craft.(2) Repairs are made during three-shift, 24-hour-a-day operations.(3) The Union represents 1,262 nonprofessional bargaining-unit employees who work as ship fitters, pipe fitters, machinists, marine machine mechanics, electronic mechanics, electricians, tool makers, warehousemen, and drafters at grades WG-5 through -12. Other unit employees work as production controllers, secretaries, clerks, supply technicians, and computer specialists at grades GS-3 through -11. They are covered by a collective bargaining agreement which is due to expire on May 2, 2000.

    After an initial 6-month trial period starting in January 1997, the parties’ eventually negotiated a Memorandum of Agreement on CWS. After the successful completion of negotiations, the Employer also issued an internal CWS regulation (TRIREFFACINST 5330.1). There are approximately 750 production workers at the facility, 455 of whom are currently on the CWS.(4)

ISSUE AT IMPASSE

    In accordance with section 6131(c)(3)(C) of the Act, the sole issue in dispute is whether the finding on which the Employer has based its determination to terminate employees’ 5-4/9 CWS is supported by evidence that the schedule has caused an adverse agency impact.(5)

POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES

1. The Employer’s Position

    The 5-4/9 CWS has had an adverse agency impact under each of the three criteria specified in the Act. With respect to productivity, the average man-hours expended per refit has fallen 4.5 percent from pre-CWS baseline levels established in October 1997.(6)

    This has occurred primarily because of a "mismatch of work schedules" between production employees and ships’ crews, and unnecessary overlap of production employees between shifts. The lack of standard shift hours also has "severely complicated the assignment of work and hampered the ability of many shops to cover emergent work and respond effectively to continuously changing work priorities." Simply put, turnover times between shifts are too lengthy, and result in production employee down time, because "27 hours of production does not fit into a 24-hour day." This is why CWS has not been implemented at any of the Naval Shipyards.(7) Additional data provided in its post-conference submission demonstrate that the early 1st shift starting time, the overlap in shifts, and ships’ crews unavailability results in lost production time of close to 380 hours in each 24-hour period. The adverse impact of CWS is further depicted by the loss of 3.3 percent in production man-hours when the CWS was changed in March 1998 to permit employees to select Fridays as a CWS RDO.

    The reduction in production man-hours of 4.5 percent specified above translates directly into an increase in the cost of agency operations. In this regard, the Employer estimates that it has "lost approximately $4 million in productivity over the last year," or "147 percent of the agency’s total overtime budget." In addition, the loss of 380 productive hours per 24-hour period equates to over $2.6 million per year in direct costs to customers. Even if the Employer were to agree to a compromise proposal made by the Union during the informal conference which would eliminate CWS on the third shift, and alter starting and quitting times to reduce shift overlap, "direct cost of CWS to the customer" would be $1.4 million per year. This "is still a significant loss and is why the Union’s proposal was unacceptable."

    The loss in productive man-hours has resulted in a diminished level of services to the facility’s customers, the Trident submarines, as shown by the "steady growth of deferred work." In this connection, since the beginning of the CWS trial period in January 1997, "deferred jobs per refit" have risen "from an average of 76 to 99 today."(8) This "equates to a growth in the average number of deferred jobs over an 18-month period of 21 percent and continues on its upward trend." Deferred work affects the material readiness of the submarines, and in the future may result in the need for an Extended Refit Period at a cost of between $30 to $35 million performed by a Naval Shipyard or private contractor. Finally, the addition of 26 CWS off days per year per employee, along with holidays and heavy leave use periods "has contributed significantly to the periodic manning problems experienced by the shops."

2. The Union’s Position

    The Employer "has not shown an ‘adverse agency impact’ in production." Concerning its contention that CWS has caused average man-hours expended to fall 4.5 percent, using management’s own data, the Union calculates that "the agency was .4 percent more productive during this time frame."(9) This is unsurprising, since an increase in productivity would be consistent with statements the Employer has made elsewhere that in FY 98, TRF completed "6.7 percent more Trident work while reducing the production workforce by 8.5 percent. The net FY 98 savings from improved efficiencies is $4.85 million." The Employer also overstates the need for coordination between ships’ crews and production workers. In this regard, minimal interaction occurs after the Ship Duty Officer or Engineering Duty Officer authorizes work to commence. Moreover, those few production shops which require fire watch personnel "have ship support 24-hours-a-day." Contrary to the Employer’s characterization of the level of interaction required between production shops, they "work independently of each other," and "don’t normally work on the same job at the same time."

    The Employer understates the amount of non-Trident maintenance work that is performed by the facility. This, rather than the availability of CWS, may account for the increase in deferred jobs it alleges has occurred. The daily Production Status Report, however, shows "no jobs deferred for lack of manpower due to CWS implementation." In any event, the Employer only began tracking deferred jobs in February 1998, even though "TRF has always deferred work." Such deferred jobs "may be something as simple as fixing the Captain’s sink," and the priorities regarding which jobs are to be worked "are based upon the customer requests."

    Admittedly, "turnover times between the 1st and 2nd shift are too lengthy." For this reason, the CWS Committee "made numerous recommendations" to modify starting and quitting times, and shift overlaps, but none "were utilized to resolve any issues." Hence, "this allowed problems that were identified not to be resolved." In addition, TRIREFFACINST 5330.1 permits individual shop supervisors the flexibility to coordinate work site schedules "to improve work center operations."(10) Instead of implementing modifications to make it work better, the Employer has insisted on terminating CWS for all production workers, even though the schedule has been "a very positive factor." Finally, production employees on the CWS still work 80 hours in a 2-week pay period, and 2,080 hours per year. The staffing shortages which are alleged to result from combining leave with CWS RDOs and holidays are within the control of management, which "approves or disapproves leave."

CONCLUSIONS

    Under section 6131(c)(3) of the Act, the Panel is required to take final action in favor of the agency determination if the finding on which the determination is based is supported by evidence that a CWS has caused adverse agency impact. Having considered the record before us, we are constrained to conclude that the Employer has met its statutory burden. In reaching this result, little weight has been given to the Employer’s contention that average man-hours expended per refit have fallen 4.5 percent from pre-CWS levels. Although it attributes its data to a 1st shift that starts too soon (6 a.m.), and the overlapping of employees between shifts, it was discovered during the informal conference that supervisors do not generally report these events as non-productive time. Thus, the Employer failed to explain how its data are causally connected to implementation of the CWS. Moreover, because its evidence regarding increases in the cost of agency operations and diminished levels of service to its customers are largely derived from its statistics on average man-hours, its findings in these areas are similarly suspect.

    Nevertheless, we are persuaded that the CWS has caused an adverse agency impact. The primary reasons for this are the Union’s unequivocal admission that turnover times between shifts are too lengthy, and our belief that in the circumstances of this case the availability of CWS on all three shifts has resulted in a 1st shift starting time which has created inefficiencies in the Employer’s ability to accomplish its crucial mission. While skeptical that the loss per year is $2.6 million, in our view it is clear that the actual amount is substantial, and significant enough to meet the statutory burden established by the Act. It is troubling that the parties could not make the compromises necessary during the informal conference that would have avoided a complete termination of CWS, and it is unlikely that the Panel would reach the same conclusion if it were confronted with a case under the Act involving CWS on only the 1st shift. Unfortunately, the Act does not permit the Panel to order compromise solutions in CWS termination cases. Accordingly, for the reasons provided, we have no alternative but to terminate the CWS for all production employees.

ORDER

    Pursuant to the authority vested in it by section 6131 (c) of the Federal Employees Flexible and Compressed Work Schedules Act, the Federal Service Impasses Panel, under section 2472.11(a)(2) of its regulations, hereby orders the termination of the 5-4/9 compressed work schedules for production personnel.

 

By direction of the Panel.

H. Joseph Schimansky

Executive Director

May 11, 1999

Washington, D.C.

 

1.Under a 5-4/9 schedule, employees work eight 9-hour days, one 8-hour day, and have one regular day off (RDO) each pay period.

2.Under the life cycle maintenance support or timed maintenance system, a Trident submarine arrives every 12 days for scheduled maintenance; each submarine remains at Kings Bay for approximately 25 days. A key goal of the timed maintenance system is to keep the ship at sea 70 percent of the time. Previously, ships were overhauled every 5 years; those overhauls, which cost about a half billion dollars each, took 2 years or more to perform, placing the submarine out of commission for the entire period. Now, under the timed maintenance system, the Employer replaces large components of the ship at shorter intervals, even when they have not failed. This system saves tax dollars over the long term.

3.The 1st CWS shift begins at 6 a.m. and ends at 3:30 p.m.; the 2nd CWS shift begins at 2:30 p.m. and ends at midnight; the 3rd CWS shift starts at 10:15 p.m. and ends at 7:15 a.m. Production workers are required to interact with the ships’ crews in performing their refit mission. In this regard, the ship’s crew is available from 7:30 a.m. until approximately 4 p.m., when it is replaced by a “duty section” (a much smaller contingent of crew members) who are available until 11:30 p.m.

4.The breakdown per shift is as follows: Of the 473 production employees working the 1st shift, 348 are on the CWS; of the 238 who work the 2nd shift, 180 are on CWS; and of the 38 who work the 3rd shift, 27 are on CWS.

5.5 U.S.C. § 6131(b) defines adverse agency impact as:

 

(1) a reduction of the productivity of the agency;

(2) a diminished level of the services furnished to the public by the agency; or

(3) an increase in the cost of agency operations (other than a reasonable administrative cost relating to the process of establishing a flexible or compressed work schedule).

Under section 6131(c)(3) of the Act and section 2472.11(a)(2) of its regulations, the Panel is required to take final action in favor of the agency head’s (or his delegatee’s) determination to terminate a compressed work schedule if the finding on which the determination is based is supported by evidence that the schedule has caused an adverse agency impact. If, however, the finding on which the determination is based is not supported by evidence that the schedule has caused adverse impact, the Panel, in accordance with section 2472.11(b) of its regulations, shall take "whatever final action is appropriate" to resolve the impasse. The Act’s legislative history clearly indicates that the Employer bears the burden of proving adverse agency impact. S. REP. NO. 97-365, 97th Cong., 2d Sess. at 16.

6.According to the Employer’s figures, in calendar year 1996, before CWS was implemented, 33,808 average man-hours were expended per refit. From January to June 1997, when a CWS was in effect which did not permit employees a Friday RDO, the average man-hours expended per refit dropped to 30,162. From July to October 1997, when the CWS option was unilaterally suspended, average man-hours expended per refit rose to 36,869. CWS, without a Friday RDO option, resumed from November 1997 to March 1998, and average man-hours expended per refit dropped to 32,740. From March to October 1998, the CWS was changed to include a Friday RDO option, and 32,900 average man-hours were expended per refit. Finally, from October 1998 to February 1999, a CWS which once again excluded the Friday RDO option was implemented. Average man-hours expended per refit rose to 34,384 during this period.

7.According to the Employer, the only shipyard-like environment where CWS has been implemented is at the Employer’s sister Trident Refit Facility in Bangor, Washington, where it has been unilaterally suspended by the employer for 20 weeks out of the year for at least the past 2 years.

8.In support of its position regarding increases in deferred work, the Employer provides the following statistics: There were 66 average deferred jobs per submarine during the pre-CWS period from January to December 1996, 76 during the CWS period from January to June 1997, 75 from July to October 1997 when employees had no CWS option, 97 from November 1997 to March 15, 1998, when CWS was restored, 97 from March 15 to October 1998 when CWS was modified to include a Friday RDO option, and 103 from October 1998 to February 1999, when the Friday RDO option was eliminated.

9.It reaches this conclusion by calculating the reduction in average man-hours expended to be 9.1 percent, and the reduction in personnel during the appropriate time period to be 9.5 percent. In other words, “the reduction in man-hour expenditures is not attributed to CWS but to fewer production employees.”

10.For example, Section 3 c of the Instruct