[ v16 p944 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:
16 FLRA No. 126 HARRY S. TRUMAN MEMORIAL VETERANS HOSPITAL, COLUMBIA, MISSOURI Respondent and AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO, LOCAL 3399 Charging Party Case No. 7-CA-757 DECISION AND ORDER This matter is before the Authority pursuant to the Acting Regional Director's "Order Transferring Case to the Federal Labor Relations Authority" in accordance with section 2429.1(a) of the Authority's Rules and Regulations. Upon consideration of the entire record in this case, including the stipulation of facts and the parties' contentions, the Authority finds: The complaint alleges, in essence, that the Respondent violated section 7116(a)(1) and (5) of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (the Statute) when it failed and refused to negotiate ground rules for bargaining concerning the Respondent's proposed Upward Mobility Program. On July 16, 1980, the Respondent notified the Union of the Program, inviting the Union's review and comments. Thereafter, the Union requested to negotiate over the Program, and the Respondent, in a memorandum acknowledging the Union's request, named its team and scheduled a negotiation date. The Union responded by requesting 30 days to prepare proposals, suggested a different date for negotiations, and submitted a proposal for ground rules. In a memorandum dated August 18, 1980, the Respondent declined to negotiate ground rules, contending that negotiating formal ground rules for implementing or changing personnel policies, procedures, or working conditions is inappropriate except in formal contract negotiations. However, the record reflects that the parties met on September 8, 1980, and for several days thereafter negotiated over the Program and eventually reached an agreement. The Respondent stipulated that at no time did it negotiate or reach agreement with the Union on ground rules. The parties view the primary issue herein to be whether or not the Respondent had an obligation to bargain concerning ground rules for the negotiation of a change in conditions of employment which management proposed during the term of the parties' collective bargaining agreement. Subsequent to the issuance of the complaint in this case, the Authority concluded, in finding a violation of the Statute by an agency that refused to provide official time to a union representative during ground rule negotiations, that ground rule negotiations are not separate from the collective bargaining process and the parties' mutual obligation to bargain in good faith. Department of Defense Dependents Schools, 14 FLRA 40 (1984). See also Environmental Protection Agency, 16 FLRA 87 (1984). In the instant case, the Authority similarly concludes that the Respondent failed to fulfill its obligation to negotiate in good faith when it refused to bargain over the Union's ground rule proposal and thereby violated section 7116(a)(1) and (5) of the Statute. Respondent gave as a reason for its refusal its contention that ground rule bargaining is inappropriate except during formal contract negotiations. Inasmuch as the Authority has already concluded that the negotiation of ground rules is part of the collective bargaining process and the mutual obligation of the parties to negotiate in good faith, such a contention is clearly without merit. Moreover, the Authority has found no distinction in the good faith bargaining process between formal contract negotiations and negotiations conducted as a result of a change in conditions of employment made during the term of a collective bargaining agreement. /1/ Finally, the Respondent contends that no violation should be found since it negotiated an agreement with the Union over the Upward Mobility Program. Inasmuch as Respondent has refused to bargain about ground rules and has never agreed to bargain with the Union on that subject, the Authority finds Respondent's contention in this regard is without merit. In these circumstances, the Authority finds that the purposes and policies of the Statute will be best effectuated by an order requiring the Respondent to bargain in good faith regarding ground rule proposals which may be submitted in connection with future negotiations. ORDER Pursuant to section 2423.29 of the Rules and Regulations of the Authority and section 7118 of the Statute, the Authority hereby orders that the Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans Hospital, Columbia, Missouri, shall: 1. Cease and desist from: (a) Refusing to bargain over ground rules proposed by the American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, Local 3399, the exclusive representative of its employees, concerning the negotiation of its Upward Mobility Program. (b) In any like or related manner interfering with, restraining or coercing its employees in the exercise of their rights assured by the Statute. 2. Take the following affirmative action in order to effectuate the purposes and policies of the Statute. (a) Bargain in good faith with the American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, Local 3399, the exclusive representative of its employees, over ground rule proposals which may be submitted in connection with future negotiations conducted under the Statute. (b) Post at its Columbia, Missouri facilities copies of the attached Notice on forms to be furnished by the Federal Labor Relations Authority. Upon receipt of such forms, they shall be signed by an authorized representative of the Respondent and shall be posted and maintained for 60 consecutive days thereafter, in conspicuous places, including all bulletin boards and other places where notices to employees are customarily posted. Reasonable steps shall be taken to insure that such Notices are not altered, defaced, or covered by any material. (c) Pursuant to section 2423.30 of the Authority's Rules and Regulations, notify the Regional Director, Region VII, Federal Labor Relations Authority, in writing, within 30 days from the date of this Order, as to what steps have been taken to comply herewith. Issued, Washington, D.C., December 18, 1984 /s/ HENRY B. FRAZIER III Henry B. Frazier III, Acting Chairman /s/ RONALD W. HAUGHTON Ronald W. Haughton, Member FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY NOTICE TO ALL EMPLOYEES PURSUANT TO A DECISION AND ORDER OF THE FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY AND IN ORDER TO EFFECTUATE THE POLICIES OF CHAPTER 71 OF TITLE 5 OF THE UNITED STATES CODE FEDERAL SERVICE LABOR-MANAGEMENT RELATIONS WE HEREBY NOTIFY OUR EMPLOYEES THAT: WE WILL NOT refuse to bargain over ground rules proposed by the American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, Local 3399, our employees' exclusive representative, concerning the negotiation of our proposed Upward Mobility Program. WE WILL NOT in any like or related manner interfere with, restrain, or coerce our employees in the exercise of their rights assures by the Statute. WE WILL bargain in good faith with the American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, Local 3399, the exclusive representative of our employees, over ground rule proposals which may be submitted in connection with future negotiations conducted under the Statute. . . . (Activity) Dated: . . . By: . . . (Signature) (Title) This Notice must remain posted for 60 consecutive days from the date of posting, and must not be altered, defaced, or covered by any other material. If employees have any questions concerning this Notice or compliance with its provisions, they may communicate directly with the Regional Director, Region VII, Federal Labor Relations Authority whose address is: Federal Building & U.S. Customs House, 1531 Stout Street, Suite 301, Denver, Colorado 80202 and whose telephone number is: (303) 837-5224. --------------- FOOTNOTES$ --------------- /1/ See, e.g., Department of Defense, Department of the Air Force, Armament Division, AFSC, Eglin Air Force Base, 13 FLRA No. 86 (1983).