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The decision of the Authority follows:
32 FLRA No. 110
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY
DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY COUNCIL OF
AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT
DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY
Case No. 0-NG-1523
DECISION AND ORDER ON NEGOTIABILITY ISSUES
I. Statement of the Case
This case is before the Authority because of a negotiability appeal filed under section 7105(a)(2)(D) and (E) of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (the Statute). It concerns the negotiability of three proposals relating to the Union's use of AUTOVON in conducting labor-management relations activities.(1)
We find that the proposals do not interfere with the Agency's right to determine the technology of performing work or conflict with an Agency regulation for which a compelling need exists. Therefore, the proposals are within the duty to bargain.
II. Proposal 1
1. The DLA Council shall be provided private office space at the DLA Headquarters, access to AUTOVON, a lockable file cabinet, and other furniture as required. Other additional items may be provided by mutual agreement.
2. It is understood that the AUTOVON phone system, or in the absence of AUTOVON, FTS, if available, is primarily to support military command and control requirements. Therefore, in keeping with the system's policies, use of AUTOVON/FTS by Council officials at the DLA Headquarters and PLFA level [Primary Level Field Activities] shall be discriminate and for legitimate labor-management purposes.
3. Each DLA Council Local shall be provided office space, access to AUTOVON, or in the absence of AUTOVON, FTS, if available, a lockable file cabinet and other furniture as required in accordance with arrangements to be agreed upon by the parties at the PLFA level.
[Only the underscored portions are in dispute.]
III. Positions of the Parties
The Agency argues that the proposals are negotiable only at the election of the Agency because AUTOVON access concerns the technology of performing work within the meaning of section 7106(b)(1) of the Statute. According to the Agency, AUTOVON is its choice of the technological method it will use in performing work under section 7106(b)(1). Therefore, the Agency maintains that no obligation to bargain exists concerning either: (1) the use of equipment and facilities which constitute a part of the technology it uses in performing its work; or (2) the expansion of that equipment and those facilities to accommodate additional users by adding "Class A" lines to phones so as to permit access to AUTOVON.
The Agency also argues that the proposals conflict with an Agency regulation (paragraph F.2.b. of Department of Defense Directive 4640.9 entitled "Automatic Voice Network Access") for which a compelling need exists under section 7117(a)(2) of the Statute and section 2424.11(a) of the Authority's Rules and Regulations. The Agency asserts that paragraph F.2.b. of Department of Defense Directive 4640.9, which prohibits access to AUTOVON by "local bargaining units," was issued to ensure that the AUTOVON network continues to provide service to essential users.
The Union contends that the proposals do not concern the technology of performing the work of the Agency within the meaning of section 7106(b)(1). The Union also argues that Proposal 2 is consistent with the primary purpose of the AUTOVON system--rapid worldwide telephone communications for high priority users--because it requires the Union to keep its access to the system "discriminate and for legitimate labor-management purposes." Union's Response at 2. Finally, the Union argues that there is no compelling need for Department of Defense Directive 4640.9 to bar negotiations on its proposals.
The disputed proposals would require the Agency to give Union representatives access to AUTOVON. The proposals would require use by Union representatives to be "discriminate and for legitimate labor-management purposes." We find that the proposals are negotiable because they do not concern the technology of performing work or conflict with an Agency regulation for which there is a compelling need.
In American Federation of Government Employees, Council 214, AFL-CIO and Department of the Air Force, Air Force Logistics Command, 31 FLRA 1259 (1988) (Proposals 1 and 7), the Authority held that proposals requiring the agency to provide the union with access to the AUTOVON telephone system for official labor relations business were negotiable. The Authority found that: (1) participation in labor-management activities by employees on behalf of a union does not involve the work of the agency within the meaning of section 7106(b)(1) of the Statute; (2) even if the agency uses telephones in performing its work, the use of telephones by union representatives to conduct labor-management activities does not involve the technology of performing work within the meaning of section 7106(b)(1); and (3) the agency failed to demonstrate that a compelling need exists for Department of Defense Directive 4640.9 because it did not provide any evidence relating to the projected amount of AUTOVON use by the union or demonstrate that the only way it can preserve the AUTOVON system for use in the performance of its work is to deny access to the union. Id. at 1261-63.
The proposals and the arguments raised by the Agency in this case are substantively the same as the proposals and arguments presented in Air Force Logistics Command. For the reasons and cases cited in Air Force Logistics Command, we find that the Agency has not established that the proposals for access to AUTOVON for purposes of conducting labor-management relations activities interfere with its right under section 7106(b)(1) to determine the technology of performing work or conflict with an Agency regulation for which a compelling need exists. Consequently, we find that the proposals are within the duty to bargain.
The Agency must upon request (or as otherwise agreed to by the parties) bargain concerning the proposals.(2)
Issued, Washington, D.C.,
Jerry L. Calhoun, Chairman
Jean McKee, Member
FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY
(If blank, the decision does not have footnotes.)
1. AUTOVON (Automatic Voice Network) is the principal long-haul, nonsecure, common user, telephone network used within the Agency.
2. In finding that these proposals are within the duty to bargain, we make no judgment as to their merits.