DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS FEDERAL CORRECTIONS INSTITUTION LOMPOC LOMPOC, CALIFORNIA and LOCAL 4048, COUNCIL OF PRISON LOCALS C-33, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO

United States of America

BEFORE THE FEDERAL SERVICE IMPASSES PANEL

 

In the Matter of

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS

FEDERAL CORRECTIONS INSTITUTION

LOMPOC

LOMPOC, CALIFORNIA

 

 

 

 

 

Case No. 99 FSIP 92

and

LOCAL 4048, COUNCIL OF PRISON LOCALS

C-33, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF

GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO

DECISION AND ORDER

    Local 4048, Council of Prison Locals C-33, American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO (Union), 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, 5 U.S.C. § 7119, between it and the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), Federal Corrections Institution Lompoc, Lompoc, California (Employer or FCI Lompoc).

    Following an investigation of the impasse, arising from bargaining over employee uniforms, the Panel directed the parties to take part in an informal conference by telephone with a Panel representative for the purpose of resolving the dispute. If the parties were unable to reach a complete settlement, the representative would notify the Panel of the status of the dispute, including the parties’ final offers and her recommendations for resolving the matter. After considering this information, the Panel would take whatever action it deemed appropriate to resolve the impasse, including the issuance of a binding decision.

    Accordingly, Panel Representative (Staff Attorney) Sara L. Walsh conducted an informal conference by telephone with the parties on June 18, 1999, but they were unable to reach a voluntary settlement of the dispute.(1) The parties submitted final offers pursuant to this procedure. Ms. Walsh reported to the Panel, and it has now considered the entire record.

BACKGROUND

    The Employer operates a low-security Federal correctional institution. The Union represents 175 bargaining-unit employees who work in a variety of positions including correctional officer, counselor, case manager, mechanical service worker, teacher, physician assistant, and medical record, accounting, and legal technician. Those affected by the outcome in this case are mainly correctional officers assigned to the Special Housing Unit (SHU).(2) The parties are covered by a master collective bargaining agreement (MCBA) that is due to expire on March 8, 2001.

ISSUE AT IMPASSE

    At impasse is whether correctional officers assigned to the SHU should have the option of wearing the utility uniform ("grey" or "nickel greys") instead of the dress or Class A uniform.(3)

POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES

1. The Employer’s Position

    The Employer proposes that the Class A uniform remain the only authorized uniform to be worn in the SHU on all shifts for both positions, but employees would not be required to wear a tie or a blazer. For those limited instances where an employee’s uniform might become soiled, the Employer would "provide a jumpsuit for staff to utilize when searching the cells, serving meals, or as an option to protect the Class A uniform." In every case, however, the more professional-looking dress uniform reinforces the correctional officer’s authority and avoids the misidentification of staff as inmates, resulting in a safer correctional environment. While some employees assigned to security, the rear gate, the tool room, and the compound are permitted to wear the grey utility uniform, it is because their work involves, among other things, maintenance, and installing and servicing locks. Since employees assigned to the SHU do not perform similar duties, they do not need to wear the grey uniform.

2. The Union’s Position

    Under the Union’s proposal, the OIC would have the option of wearing the grey uniform on the evening and morning shifts, but continue to wear the dress uniform during the day shift. The Number Two officer would continue to wear the dress uniform regardless of the shift. The utility grey uniform is a BOP-authorized uniform that is less expensive to purchase and maintain. It also is more appropriate to wear while conducting searches of cells for contraband or serving meals to inmates because it is easier to clean. In contrast, the Class A uniform is less comfortable, more prone to soiling, and more expensive to purchase and clean.

CONCLUSION

    Having carefully reviewed the evidence and arguments presented by the parties in this case, we are persuaded that, on balance, the Employer’s proposal provides the more reasonable basis for resolving the impasse. In our assessment, the concerns the Union raises do not clearly demonstrate a need to change the status quo. In this regard, the parties recount only one minor incident occurring in the SHU in the last 2 years where an employee’s uniform was stained in an interaction with an inmate. The Union’s contention that the nickel grey uniform is easier to clean, therefore, does not appear to justify treating employees who work in the SHU differently from employees in other housing units at FCI Lompoc who are required to wear the Class A uniform. Furthermore, the Class A uniform, which appears more professional, may engender greater respect from inmates, as the Employer contends, and thereby contribute to a safer correctional environment. Finally, the jumpsuit is an option that may address some of the Union’s concerns regarding additional cleaning and maintenance expenses by protecting the dress uniform from being soiled. For these reasons, we shall order the adoption of the Employer’s proposal.

ORDER

    Pursuant to the authority vested in it by the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute, 5 U.S.C. § 7119, and because of the parties’ failure 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 following:

    The parties shall adopt the Employer’s proposal.

 

By direction of the Panel.

Ellen J. Kolansky Acting Executive Director

August 3, 1999

Washington, D.C.

1.Initially, the dispute also included whether to allow correctional officers to wear the grey uniform on the Mobile Patrol. Shortly after the telephone conference, the parties’ reached a settlement on that issue and it was withdrawn.

2.The SHU is an 8-cell, 44 person-capacity isolation unit for inmates with disciplinary problems. Two officers are assigned to the SHU: (1) a Number One Officer (or Officer-in-Charge (OIC)) is assigned on all three shifts; and (2) a Number Two Officer is assigned to two shifts, 6 a.m. until 2 p.m. and from 2 p.m. until 10 p.m. While the OIC remains primarily in the SHU, the Number Two Officer has var