14:0702(93)RO - Navy, Naval Station, Norfolk, Virginia and Local 13, FFFA and Local 2414, AFGE -- 1984 FLRAdec RP

[ v14 p702 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:

 14 FLRA No. 93
 Intervenor /1/
                                            Case No. 4-RO-30011
    Upon a petition duly filed with the Federal Labor Relations 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 hearing officer's rulings made at the
 hearing are free from prejudicial error and are hereby affirmed.
    Upon the entire record in this case, including the parties'
 contentions, the Authority makes the following findings:  Local 13,
 Federal Fire Fighters Association (the Petitioner), seeks to represent a
 unit of fire prevention and fire protection employees presently assigned
 to the Security Division, Naval Station, Norfolk, Virginia.  The
 Activity and the Intervenor, Local 2414, American Federation of
 Government Employees, AFL-CIO, contend that the unit of employees sought
 by the Petitioner has been accreted into the existing Activity-wide unit
 currently represented by the Intervenor as the result of a
 reorganization which effectively transferred the Security Division,
 including the firefighters, from another facility into the Activity
 herein.  The Activity further contends that the unit sought by the
 Petitioner is not an appropriate unit for exclusive recognition under
 the criteria set forth in section 7112(a)(1) of the Statute, /2/
 alleging that the employees involved do not share a community of
 interest separate and distinct from other employees of the Activity, and
 that the unit sought would not promote effective dealings and efficiency
 of the Activity's operations.
    On January 9, 1983, the Security Division (and its complement of
 firefighters) was transferred, by means of a reorganization, to the
 administrative direction and control of the Activity herein, the Norfolk
 Naval Station.  The Intervenor, which has remained the exclusive
 representative of the Activity's employees at all times since 1965,
 entered into a collective bargaining agreement covering the Activity's
 employees, effective July 16, 1982, for a period of three years.
    The firefighters in the Security Division are now administratively
 and functionally an integral part of the Activity, the Norfolk Naval
 Station, under the supervision of its commander.  While the specific
 function of the firefighters is unique, it is incorporated into the
 mission of the Activity, which is to provide basic logistical and
 security support for all of the Activity's tenants.  The employees of
 the Security Division are physically located at the Activity as are the
 employees in the existing unit represented by the Intervenor.  As a
 result of the reorganization, the employees of the Security Division,
 and the other employees of the Activity who comprise the Intervenor's
 existing unit, share a common, Activity-wide competitive area for
 purposes of reductions-in-force, a common merit promotion plan, a common
 performance appraisal program, and a common disciplinary policy.
    For the most part, the employees in the unit sought by the Petitioner
 historically have been represented as part of overall units at the
 Activity and at the Naval Air Station.  Thus, for 15 years the majority
 of the firefighters were represented as a part of the existing unit
 represented by the Intervenor, while the remainder were similarly
 represented at the Naval Air Station.  Such a history indicates not only
 closely shared terms and conditions of employment, but also a pattern of
 effective dealings and efficient agency operations.  See, Department of
 Defense Dependents Schools, 6 FLRA 297 (1981);  The Alaska Railroad,
 Federal Railroad Administration, Department of Transportation, 3 FLRA
 650 (1980).  In view of the foregoing, the Authority finds that the fire
 prevention and fire protection employees in the Security Division,
 currently assigned to the Norfolk Naval Station, may appropriately be
 included in the comprehensive Activity-wide unit currently represented
 by the Intervenor under the criteria set forth in section 7112(a)(1) of
 the Statute.
    Notwithstanding the finding above that an Activity-wide unit would be
 appropriate, the Authority also concludes that given the unique
 circumstances of this case, a separate unit also would be appropriate.
 While the function of the firefighters may be viewed as part of the
 overall mission of the Activity, it is nonetheless unique as reflected
 by their position descriptions and job responsibilities.  Moreover, they
 are subject to special pay provisions and to a retirement system
 predicated upon the hazardous nature of their duties.  Normally they are
 hired as firefighters, trained only as firefighters, and progress in
 grade and pay within the firefighter position descriptions.  There is no
 indication of interchange between firefighters and other employees
 represented by the Intervenor, and transfers are limited.  Firefighters
 alone among employees of the Activity work 24 hour alternating shifts
 and they eat, sleep and work at their stations.  Although those stations
 are located within the Activity, they comprise separate buildings which
 are devoted only to firefighting activity.  In view of the unique
 concerns of firefighters, the Authority finds that, in addition to
 sharing a community of interest with other Activity employees, this
 group of employees has a separate and distinct community of interest.
 Also, their unique concerns support a conclusion that a unit limited to
 such employees would promote effective dealings and efficiency of agency
 operations.  The Authority has found that a unit structured around the
 special interests of an occupational or craft grouping of employees can,
 in certain circumstances, promote effective dealings and efficiency of
 agency operations in that it allows the parties to respond in a more
 meaningful manner to a functional group of employees who possess
 characteristics and concerns limited to that group.  /3/
    Accordingly, an election is hereby directed in the following unit:
          All fire prevention and protection employees of the Security
       Division, Fire Protection Branch, Naval Station, Norfolk,
       Virginia, excluding all professional employees, management
       officials, supervisors and employees described in section
       7112(b)(2), (3), (4), (6) and (7) of the Statute.
    In view of the rationale stated above, the Authority finds that the
 employees should be afforded the opportunity to choose whether or not
 they wish to become part of the existing unit represented by the
 Intervenor, to be represented by the Petitioner, or not to be
 represented at all.  Accordingly, if a majority of the employees in the
 unit found appropriate votes for the Intervenor, they will have
 indicated a desire to be included in the