16:0308(48)NG - AFGE Local 1812 and Information Agency -- 1984 FLRAdec NG

[ v16 p308 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:

 16 FLRA No. 48
                                            Case No. O-NG-739
    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 presents issues
 concerning the negotiability of three provisions of an agreement
 disapproved by the Agency head pursuant to section 7114(c) of the
 Statute.  Upon careful consideration of the entire record, including the
 parties' contentions, the Authority makes the following determinations.
                                Provision 1
          Article V, Section 1(d)
          Right to Representation.  An employee has the right to request
       a Union representative at all stages of a grievance, appeal, or
       disciplinary action (other than an oral admonishment or oral
       reprimand), or at any examination by a representative of the
       Agency in connection with an investigation if the employee
       reasonably believes that the examination may result in
       disciplinary action against the employee.  The employee shall be
       given reasonable notice prior to such examination.  The notice
       action shall be based on the employee's option to request Union
       representation.  Once the employee requests a representative and a
       determination is made to continue the the investigation or
       examination, the Agency will not engage in any examination of the
       employee without first informing the representative and providing
       the opportunity for the representative's presence.  The employee
       has the right to remain silent if he/she chooses.  (Only the last
       sentence is in dispute.)
    The Authority finds that the issue raised by Provision 1 is
 essentially the same as that which was presented in Tidewater Virginia
 Federal Employees Metal Trades Council and Navy Public Works Center,
 Norfolk, Virginia, 15 FLRA No. 73 (1984).  In that case the Authority
 found that Provision 1 therein concerning an employee's right to remain
 silent during any discussion with management in which the employee
 believed disciplinary action may be taken against him or her was outside
 the duty to bargain as the provision prevented management from acting at
 all in regard to its substantive right under section 7106(a)(2)(A) to
 take disciplinary action against employees.  /1/ The Authority noted the
 effect of the provision would have been to insulate employees from
 disciplinary action should they decline to account for their work or
 conduct during investigations which the employees believed might lead to
 disciplinary proceedings.  Moreover, the Authority has also held in Navy
 Public Works Center that management's exercise of its rights to direct
 employees and assign work pursuant to section 7106(a)(2)(A) and (B) of
 the Statute includes the right to have employees account for their
 conduct and work performance.  Therefore, the Authority concluded that
 granting employees the right to remain silent would interfere with these
 management rights.  /2/
    Since Provision 1 herein would have the same effect as the provision
 referenced in Navy Public Works Center, the provision is for the reasons
 stated therein, outside the duty to bargain.
                                Provision 2
          Article XIV, Section 3-- Employee-- Agency Responsibility
          a.  Any employee with such concerns as his/her drinking,
       marital situation, interpersonal relationships, depression,
       children's school difficulties, or financial difficulties would
       receive strictly confidential help through this comprehensive
       service (ARCS).
          b.  When an employee's problem interferes with the efficient
       and proper performance of his/her duties, reduces his/her
       dependability, or whose disgraceful conduct reflects discredit
       upon the Agency, supervisors will attempt to implement the
       procedures of the Advisory, Referral and Counseling Service before
       considering disciplinary or other corrective action.
          Only after the refusal of the employee to participate or upon
       failure of the employee to progress toward the renewal of
       acceptable work performance will management take adverse action as
       a corrective measure.
    In National Treasury Employees Union and Internal Revenue Service, 6
 FLRA 522 (1981) the Authority considered the negotiability of a union
 proposal which would have restricted the Agency in taking disciplinary
 action against an employee having work performance problems while the
 employee was an active participant in a recognized drug/alcoholism
 program.  The Authority found the proposal was inconsistent with the
 agency's right to discipline employees under section 7106(a)(2)(A) of
 the Statute and, therefore, was outside the duty to bargain.  The
 Authority noted the proposal would have had the effect of completely
 immunizing employees who enter the program from discipline since the
 Agency would have been prevented from taking disciplinary action so long
 as the employees remained active participants in the rehabilitation
 program.  The Authority held in Internal Revenue Service:
          Thus, the proposal would grant employees the option to totally
       deny the Agency's statutory authority by participating in such a
       program and hence even if considered to be procedural in nature,
       the proposal would have the effect of preventing the Agency from
       acting at all in the exercise of its authority to discipline
       employees under section 7106(a)(2)(A) of the Statute.  (Footnote
    In the instant case, the provision would similarly prevent the Agency
 from taking disciplinary measures against an employee so long as the
 employee continued to participate in the Advisory, Referral and
 Counseling Service program and to progress toward an acceptable work
 performance level.  Thus, under the provision, an employee would
 completely avoid disciplinary action for his or her conduct or
 unacceptable work performance by remaining a participant in the program
 and making progress, however slight, towards acceptable performance.
 Hence, as in Internal Revenue Service, the Agency's right to discipline
 such an employee would be permanently restricted, rather than having the
 effect of merely delaying the imposition of disciplinary action.  /3/
 The proposal, therefore, directly affects management's right to
 discipline employees under section 7106(a)(2)(A) of the Statute and is
 not within the duty to bargain.
                                Provision 3
          3) An employee shall be given a temporary promotion if the
       assignment to higher level work is for more than thirty (30)
       consecutive calendar days and the employee is eligible for
       promotion.  Requests for temporary promotions are to be submitted
       by the element of assignment to the appropriate Personnel Offi