[ v10 p550 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:
10 FLRA No. 95 NATIONAL FEDERATION OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES, LOCAL 29 Union and U.S. ARMY ENGINEER DISTRICT, KANSAS CITY, MO. Agency Case No. O-NG-467 DECISION AND ORDER ON NEGOTIABILITY ISSUE The petition for review in this case comes before the Authority pursuant to section 7105(a)(2)(E) of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (the Statute) and raises the question of the negotiability of the following Union proposal. Union Proposal 1. That all employees be notified, on travel orders and annually of the requirement to file travel vouchers no later than 15 days after completion of travel; 2. That employees that do not comply with paragraph 1, or who are indebted to the U.S. Government be officially notified that payment be made within 15 days of the receipt of the notice; 3. That payment becomes delinquent after 30 days from the date of the notice and payroll deductions will be initiated; unless a waiver or payment arrangements have been made; 4. That no interest charge be made. (Interest charge for delinquent unused travel advances). (Only the underscored language is in dispute.) Upon careful consideration of the entire record, including the contentions of the parties, the Authority makes the following determinations: The proposal is concerned with the conditions under which employees will reimburse the Agency for monies they have received through advances where the work-related expenses actually incurred are less than the advance. The proposal is in dispute only insofar as it provides that no interest will be charged. The Agency contends that the proposal is outside the duty to bargain because it conflicts with the requirement that interest be charged on delinquent debts under the regulations of the General Accounting Office and the Department of Justice /1/ and correlative guidance in the Treasury Fiscal Requirements Manual (TFRM) /2/ referred to in the regulations. /3/ Assuming that the regulations and guidance apply to bargaining unit employees, such regulations and guidance, as the Union specifically references in its response to the Agency's statement, permit agencies to enter into contracts providing for different payment rules and to waive late charges in some circumstances. Thus, as claimed by the Union, under the regulations and guidance in question, an agency has the discretion to enter into an agreement which could provide for no interest to be charged. The Agency has not shown in the present case that such discretion would not apply in its dealings with the bargaining unit. Consequently, as an agency must exercise its discretion concerning conditions of employment through collective bargaining upon request, see, e.g., American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, Local 32 and Office of Personnel Management, Washington, D.C., 8 FLRA No. 8 (1982), the Authority concludes that the Agency herein must bargain over the exercise of such discretion concerning interest charges, as proposed by the Union. /4/ Accordingly, pursuant to section 2424.10 of the Authority's Rules and Regulations (5 CFR 2424.10), IT IS ORDERED that the Agency shall upon request (or as otherwise agreed to by the parties) bargain concerning the proposal. /5/ Issued, Washington, D.C., December 3, 1982 Ronald W. Haughton, Chairman Henry B. Frazier III, Member Leon B. Applewhaite, Member FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY --------------- FOOTNOTES$ --------------- /1/ The pertinent regulations, codified at 4 CFR 102.11, provide as follows: Sec. 102.11 Interest. In the absence of a different rule prescribed by statute, contract, or regulation, interest shall be charged on delinquent debts and debts being paid in installments in conformity with the Treasury Fiscal Requirements Manual. . . . /2/ The pertinent provisions of the TFRM, set forth in I TFRM 6-8000, provide: 8020.20 - Charges for Late Payments. Payment of amounts owed the U.S. Government by organizations, businesses, and individuals are expected to be made in accordance with the terms of the arrangement for payment stated in the contract, agreement, or notification of indebtedness. If payment is overdue, a late charge will be applied and collected at a percentage rate based on the current value of funds to Treasury. . . . /3/ While the guidance contained in the TFRM uses the term "late charges," the correlative regulations previously adverted to as well as the explanatory material accompanying their promulgation in the Federal Register, 44 Fed.Reg. 22702 (1979), use the term "interest" in referring to the same charges for late payment. /4/ In view of the finding of no conflict with the cited regulations and guidance, the Authority finds it unnecessary to address the Agency's contention that the proposal is barred by its internal regulations which it asserts merely reflect the requirements of such outside authority. /5/ In deciding that the proposal is within the duty to bargain, the Authority, of course, makes no judgment as to the merits thereof.