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U.S. Federal Labor Relations Authority

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14:0150(28)RO - Army Medical Department Activity, Redstone Arsenal, AL and AFGE Local 1858 -- 1984 FLRAdec RP

[ v14 p150 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:

 14 FLRA No. 28
 Labor Organization/Petitioner
                                            Case No. 4-RO-20012
                            DECISION AND ORDER
    Upon a petition duly filed with the Authority under section
 7111(b)(1) of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute
 (the Statute), a hearing was held before a hearing officer of the
 Authority.  The Authority has reviewed the rulings of the hearing
 officer made at the hearing and finds that they are free from
 prejudicial error.  The rulings are hereby affirmed.
    Upon the entire record in this case, including the parties'
 contentions, the Authority finds:  The Activity, the U.S. Army Medical
 Department Activity, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, employs about 190
 civilian employees, largely in connection with its operation of the Fox
 Army Community Hospital.  The Hospital, which is relatively small and
 essentially provides the services of an "acute minor injury" clinic,
 supplies inpatient and outpatient care to active and retired military
 personnel and their dependents and certain other persons authorized for
 care by the Department of the Army.  Most of the Activity's civilian
 employees, its nonprofessionals and nonsupervisory nurses, are currently
 represented in units of exclusive recognition by the Petitioner.
 Twenty-three of the Activity's professional employees are not
 represented.  Eleven of these employees are physicians.  The remaining
 professionals include three pharmacists, one optometrist, a social
 worker, two industrial hygienists, four medical technologists, and an
 auditor.  The Petitioner seeks to represent a unit which would only
 include the 11 physicians.  The Activity opposes the petition on the
 basis that, in its view, such a unit would not conform to the criteria
 of section 7112(a)(1) of the Statute.  /1/ It contends that the
 physicians should be included in a unit with the other professionals.
    The Authority concludes that a physicians-only unit would not be
 appropriate in the instant case.  A relatively small number of
 physicians are involved, employed in various specialties.  By the nature
 of their duties, which involve specialized work at a relatively small
 medical facility, they have as much contact with the other medical care
 professionals as they have with each other.  Like the other
 professionals, they are GS employees.  As such, they are generally
 subject to the same personnel regulations and statutes affecting their
 personnel policies, practices and working conditions as are the other
 professionals.  With the other professionals, they work regular hours
 during regularly scheduled workweeks.
    The determination and administration of the physicians' working
 conditions and matters affecting their working conditions which are
 within the Activity's control are under the direction of management
 personnel who are not physicians.  The same management personnel and the
 same management structure determine and administer the working
 conditions and matters affecting the working conditions of the other
 professionals.  Complaints and grievances of the physicians regarding
 their working conditions are subject to administration and decision by
 management personnel who handle complaints and grievances of the other
 professionals.  Although the physicians enjoy a great deal of
 independence and take initiative in the performance of their functions,
 by the nature of the Activity's facility and the small number of
 professionals involved, all of the professionals enjoy such
 independence.  In practical effect, while all of the professionals are
 not equally involved with the physicians in the delivery of medical
 services, the professionals as a whole are engaged in a cooperative
 effort in furthering the Activty's mission of providing quality medical
 service and thus share a clear and identifiable community of interest.
    Finally, while the Petitioner has argued that the physicians must be
 considered as functionally distinct from the other professionals and it
 has shown that certain of the physicians have an interest in a separate
 unit, it has not shown that the inclusion of the physicians in a unit
 with the other professionals would disadvantage the physicians in
 collective bargaining.  The Activity has established that its management
 structure and the provision of labor relations services by its host
 facility, the U.S. Army Missile Command at Redstone Arsenal, are better
 adapted to representation of the professionals in a combined unit, and
 that the separation of the professionals into two very small units of
 exclusive recognition would not promote effective dealings or efficiency
 of Activity operations, but would result in unwarranted unit
 fragmentation.  See Department of Health and Human Services, Public
 Health Service, Food and Drug Administration, Bureau of Drugs, 11 FLRA
 No. 115(1983);  Providence Veterans Administration Medical Center, Davis
 Park, Providence, Rhode Island, 11 FLRA No. 44(1983).
    Accordingly, the Authority concludes that the unit sought is not
 appropriate for exclusive recognition under section 7112(a)(1) of the
 Statute and therefore will order that the petition be dismissed.
    IT IS ORDERED that the petition in Case No. 4-RO-20012 be, and it
 hereby is, dismissed.
    Issued, Washington, D.C., March 26, 1984
                                       Barbara J. Mahone, Chairman
                                       Ronald W. Haughton, Member
                                       Henry B. Frazier III, Member
                                       FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY
 --------------- FOOTNOTES$ ---------------
    /1/ Section 7112(a)(1) provides:
    Sec. 7112.  Determination of appropriate units for labor organization
          (a)(1) The Authority shall determine the appropriateness of any
       unit.  The Authority shall determine in each case whether, in
       order to ensure employees the fullest freedom in exercising the
       rights guaranteed under this chapter, the appropriate unit should
       be established on an agency, plant, installation, functional, or
       other basis and shall determine any unit to be an appropriate unit
       only if the determination will ensure a clear and identifiable
       community of interest among the employees in the unit and will
       promote effective dealings with, and efficiency of the operations
       of, the agency involved.
    /2/ The Petitioner stated at the hearing that it was willing to
 proceed to an election only in the unit described in its petition.