36:0448(55)AR - - HHS, SSA, Office of Hearings and Appeals, Region II and AFGE Local 1760 - - 1990 FLRAdec AR - - v36 p448



[ v36 p448 ]
36:0448(55)AR
The decision of the Authority follows:


36 FLRA No. 55

FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY

WASHINGTON, D.C.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION

OFFICE OF HEARINGS AND APPEALS

REGION II

(Activity)

and

AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES

LOCAL 1760

(Union)

O-AR-1762

DECISION

July 26, 1990

Before Chairman McKee and Members Talkin and Armendariz.

I. Statement of the Case

This matter is before the Authority on exceptions to the award of Arbitrator Jonas Aarons. The grievance alleged that the Activity violated the parties' collective bargaining agreement by prohibiting the playing of radios in work areas by employees at its Manhattan office. The Arbitrator determined that the grievance was not barred by an earlier-filed unfair labor practice charge. On the merits, the Arbitrator sustained the grievance.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (the Agency) filed exceptions to the award on behalf of the Activity under section 7122(a) of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (the Statute) and part 2425 of the Authority's Rules and Regulations. The Union filed an opposition to the Agency's exceptions.

We conclude that the Agency fails to establish that the award is deficient. Accordingly, we will deny the exceptions.

II. Background and Arbitrator's Award

On March 17, 1986, the Activity prohibited the playing of radios and televisions in work areas by employees at its Newark office. On April 7, 1986, the Union filed an unfair labor practice (ulp) charge, Case No. 2-CA-60215, alleging, among other things, that the prohibition of the playing of radios and televisions in work areas constituted a change in conditions of employment and that the Union had not been provided with notice and an opportunity to bargain on the change in violation of section 7116(a)(1) and (5) of the Statute.

On June 30, 1986, the Authority's Regional Director determined not to issue a complaint. The Regional Director concluded that there was no duty to bargain over the substance of the decision because the matter concerned the methods and means of performing work and the Activity had elected not to bargain. The Regional Director further determined that there was no duty to bargain over the impact of the decision because the impact was no more than de minimis. On January 27, 1987, the Office of the General Counsel of the Authority sustained the Regional Director's determination not to issue a complaint.

On April 13, 1988, the Activity prohibited employees from playing radios in work areas at its Manhattan office. On May 6, 1988, the Union filed a grievance, alleging, among other things, that the prohibition of the playing of radios in work areas constituted a change in a past practice without the Union having been provided with notice and an opportunity to bargain on the change in violation of specified provisions of the parties' collective bargaining agreement.

The Union's grievance in this case concerning the playing of radios in the Activity's Manhattan office was not resolved and was submitted to arbitration. At arbitration, the Activity contended that the grievance was barred by the earlier-filed ulp charge and its resolution.

The Arbitrator stated that in order for the grievance to be barred by the principles of res judicata, collateral estoppel, or election of remedies, as claimed by the Activity, he was required to find "that there [had] been an adjudication of the relevant issue with an appropriate similarity of the question posed and that the adjudication had participation by the same parties." Arbitrator's Award at 14. The Arbitrator determined that he could not make such a finding. He concluded that there had not been an adjudication of the issue because there had been only a determination not to issue a complaint. Id. at 15. He also indicated that the relevant issue involved in the Newark office case was not sufficiently similar to the question presented to him. He found a number of factors that differentiated the two cases. He noted that since the determination not to issue a complaint in the Newark office case, the Authority had modified its view on the duty to bargain over impact and implementation. He also noted that with the extension of the prohibition to the Manhattan office, the evaluation of the impact on unit employees might be different because the impact on employees had spread. He further noted that the two cases were differentiated by the coverage of the prohibitions: in Newark the playing of both radios and televisions had been prohibited while only the playing of radios had been prohibited in Manhattan. Accordingly, the Arbitrator concluded that the grievance was not barred and was arbitrable.

On the merits, the Arbitrator ruled that the Activity violated the collective bargaining agreement by failing to notify the Union before prohibiting the playing of radios in work areas by employees at its Manhattan office. He directed that the playing of radios be permitted as it had been before the prohibition, pending compliance by the Activity with its duties under the collective bargaining agreement.

III. Positions of the Parties

The Agency contends that the award is deficient "on the grounds of election of remedy, res judicata and collateral estoppel." Agency's Exceptions at 1. The Agency argu