29:0055(6)CA - VA, Washington, DC and VA Medical Center, VA New Orleans, LA and AFGE Local 3553 -- 1987 FLRAdec CA
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The decision of the Authority follows:
29 FLRA No. 6
VETERANS ADMINISTRATION WASHINGTON, D.C. AND VETERANS ADMINISTRATION MEDICAL CENTER, VETERANS ADMINISTRATION NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA Respondent and AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, LOCAL 3553, AFL-CIO Charging Party Case No. 6-CA-70146
I. Statement of the Case
This unfair labor practice case is before the Authority pursuant to section 2429.1(a) of the Authority's Rules and Regulations, based upon a stipulation entered into by the Respondent, the Charging Party (the Union) and the General Counsel. The complaint alleged that the Veterans Administration Medical Center, Veterans Administration, New Orleans, Louisiana (Respondent Activity) violated section 7116(a)(1), (5) and (8) of the Federal Service Labor - Management Relations Statute (the Statute) by refusing to provide the Union, the exclusive representative of a unit of the Respondent's employees, with the names and home addresses of those employees as requested by the Union. The complaint further alleged that the Veterans Administration, Washington, D.C. (Respondent Agency) violated section 7116(a)(1) and (5) of the Statute by unlawfully interfering with the bargaining relationship between the Respondent Activity and the Union by instructing the Respondent Activity not to furnish the Union with the requested information. We find that the Respondent Activity did not violate the Statute as alleged and that the Respondent Agency violated section 7116(a)(1), (5) and (8) by its conduct in the case.
The American Federation of Government Employees, AFL - CIO (AFGE) is the exclusive representative of a [PAGE] nationwide unit of the Respondent's non-professional employees. AFGE Local 3553, the Union in this case, is the agent of AFGE for the purpose of representing employees at the Veterans Administration Medical Center, New Orleans, Louisiana. On November 21, 1986, the Union requested that the Respondent Activity provide it with the names and home addresses of the unit employees. On December 2, 1986, the Respondent Activity denied the request based on instructions from the Respondent Agency not to furnish the requested information to the Union. The parties stipulated that the Respondent maintains a computerized listing of bargaining unit employees and their home addresses and, additionally, that the information is maintained in the employees' official personnel folders at the Respondent Activity's location.
III. Positions of the Parties
The Respondent essentially contends that disclosure of the home addresses of employees is prohibited by the Privacy Act; the information is not necessary for the Union to carry out its representational responsibilities under the Statute in view of the reasonable alternative means available to the union for communicating with the employees; and the information is not data pertaining to negotiation of subjects within the scope of bargaining under the Statute. The Respondent also disagrees with the Authority's Decision on Remand in Farmers Home Administration Finance Office St. Louis, Missouri, 23 FLRA No. 101 (1986) (Farmers Home), petition for review filed sub nom. U.S. Department of Agriculture and Farmers Home Administration Finance Office, St. Louis, Missouri v. FLRA, No. 86-2579 (8th Cir. Dec. 23, 1986), and asserts that the Authority erred in that decision. In summary, the Respondent maintains that the Union does not have a right to the information requested under section 7114(b)(4) of the Statute.
The General Counsel contends that the Authority's Decision on Remand in Farmers Home is controlling in this case and that the Respondent Activity was required, upon request, to supply the Union with the names and home addresses of its bargaining unit employees under section 7114(b)(4). The General Counsel points out that in refusing to provide the Union with the requested information the Activity was acting ministerially at the direction of the Agency and had no discretion in the matter. Nevertheless, the General Counsel argues that the Respondent Activity violated section 7116(a)(1), (5) and (8) of the Statute. [ v29 p2 ]
Further, the General Counsel contends that by instructing the Activity not to provide the union with the information, the Respondent Agency interfered with the bargaining relationship between the Union and the Activity and thereby violated section 7116(a)(1) and (5) of the Statute. The General Counsel also contends that the Respondent Agency is responsible for the Respondent Activity's refusal to comply with section 7114(b)(4) and for the resulting violation of section 7116(a)(1), (5) and (8) of the Statute.
IV. Analysis and Conclusion
Based on the parties' stipulation, we find that the names and home addresses of the employees are normally maintained by the Respondent Agency and the Respondent Activity in the regular course of business and are reasonably available. Additionally, we find that the information sought does not constitute guidance, advice, counsel or training provided for management officials or supervisors relating to collective bargaining.
Moreover, in our Decision and Order on Remand in Farmers Home, we concluded that the release of names and home addresses of bargaining unit employees to the exclusive representatives of those employees is not prohibited by law, is necessary for unions to fulfill their duties under the Statute, and meets all of the other requirements established by section 7114(b)(4). We also determined that the release of the information is generally required without regard to whether alternative means of communication are available.
Accordingly, based on our Decision on Remand in Farmers Home, we reject the Respondent's assertions in this case. We find that the Respondent was required to provide the Union with the names and home addresses of the bargaining unit employees under section 7114(b)(4).
With regard to the culpability of the Activity and the Agency in failing and refusing to comply with section 7114(b)(4), we find that the Activity was prevented by the Agency from fulfilling its obligation under the Statute. The Agency instructed the Activity not to furnish the requested information to the Union. Therefore, as the General Counsel points out, the Activity was acting ministerially and without discretion in the matter. In these circumstances, we will not find that the Activity violated section 7116(a)(1), (5) and (8) of the Statute as alleged in the complaint. See, for example, United States Department of the Treasury, Internal [ v29 p3 ] Revenue Service, and Internal Revenue Service, Austin District, and Internal Revenue Service, Houston District, 23 FLRA No. 100 (1986), slip op. at 6-7.
As to the Agency's conduct, it is well-established that the conduct of higher level agency management may constitute an unfair labor practice where such conduct prevents lower level management from fulfill