[ v14 p702 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:
14 FLRA No. 93 DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY, NAVAL STATION NORFOLK, VIRGINIA Activity and LOCAL 13, FEDERAL FIRE FIGHTERS ASSOCIATION Petitioner and LOCAL 2414, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO Intervenor /1/ Case No. 4-RO-30011 DECISION AND DIRECTION OF ELECTION 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 existing Activity-wide unit represented by the Intervenor and the Regional Director will issue a certification to that effect. If, on the other hand, a majority of the employees votes for the Petitioner, they will be taken to have indicated a desire to be separately represented in the unit found appropriate, and the Regional Director will issue a certification to that effect. If a majority of the employees votes for neither the Intervenor nor the Petitioner, they will have indicated a desire not to be represented, and the Regional Director will issue a certification to that effect. DIRECTION OF ELECTION An election by secret ballot shall be conducted among employees in the unit described above as soon as feasible. The appropriate Regional Director shall supervise or conduct the election, as appropriate, subject to the Authority's Rules and Regulations. Eligible to vote are those in the unit found appropriate herein who were employed during the payroll period immediately preceding the date below, including employees who did not work during that period because they were out ill, or on vacation or on furlough, including those in the military service, who appear in person at the polls. Ineligible to vote are employees who have quit or were discharged for cause since the designated payroll period and who have not been rehired or reinstated before the election date. Those eligible shall vote on whether they desire to be represented for the purpose of exclusive recognition by Local 13, Federal Fire Fighters Association; Local 2414, American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO; or by neither. Issued, Washington, D.C., May 24, 1984 Barbara J. Mahone, Chairman Ronald W. Haughton, Member Henry B. Frazier III, Member FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY --------------- FOOTNOTES$ --------------- /1/ Local 2414, American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO (the Intervenor) was permitted to intervene on the basis of its status as the exclusive representative of a unit including all eligible graded and ungraded Civil Service employees of the U.S. Naval Station, Norfolk, Virginia (the Activity), pursuant to section 2422.5 of Authority Rules and Regulations. /2/ Section 7112(a)(1) provides: Sec. 7112. Determination of appropriate units for labor organization representation (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. /3/ See, e.g., Panama Canal Commission, 5 FLRA 104 (1981).