41:0316(35)R0 - - DLA, Defense Contract Management Command, Defense Contract Management District, North Central, Defense Plant Representative Office-Thiokol, Brigham City, UT and NFFE Local 2118 - - 1991 FLRAdec RP - - v41 p316
[ v41 p316 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:
41 FLRA No. 35
Before Chairman McKee and Members Talkin and Armendariz.
I. Statement of the Case
This case is before the Authority on an application for review filed by the Activity under section 2422.17(a) of the Authority's Rules and Regulations. The Activity seeks review of the Regional Director's Decision and Order directing an election in a unit of all professional and non-professional employees of the Defense Plant Representative Office-Thiokol, Brigham City, Utah. The Petitioner did not file an opposition to the application for review.
For the following reasons, we deny the application for review.
II. Background and Regional Director's Decision
The National Federation of Federal Employees, Local 2118 (NFFE) filed the original petition in this case on February 12, 1990. The petition was amended on April 12, 1990 and again at the representation hearing on August 28, 1990. The amended petition seeks an election among employees in the following bargaining unit at the Activity's Defense Plant Representative Office-Thiokol (DPRO Thiokol) facility in Brigham City, Utah:
INCLUDED: All professional and non-professional employees of the Defense Plant Representative Office-Thiokol, Brigham City, Utah.
EXCLUDED: All supervisors, management officials, and employees described in 5 USC 7112(b)(2), (3), (4), (6) and (7).
Regional Director's decision at 1.
DPRO Thiokol serves as the primary government agency performing contract administration functions at Morton Thiokol Incorporated. Specifically, DPRO Thiokol supports program directors and Government purchasing agencies in accomplishing their missions through effective contract management and evaluates contract management systems and practices to ensure maximum effectiveness in attaining an efficient and economical operation. DPRO Thiokol is a constituent activity of the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), which provides services and supplies used in common by all the military services.
Since the filing of NFFE's original petition, there have been two phases of a reorganization of DLA. In February, 1990, the Defense Contract Management Command (DCMC) was created as an entity subordinate to the DLA in order to centralize the contract administration functions previously preformed separately by the Army, Navy, Air Force and the DLA. The DCMC serves as the primary policy-making structure for procurement within the Department of Defense. On June 24, 1990, all former plant representative offices (PROs) of the services, including DPRO Thiokol, were absorbed by the DLA. DPRO Thiokol had been operated by the Air Force until that date.
When the PROs were absorbed by DLA, the DLA was restructured into nine contract management regions (DCMRs). The DCMRs serve as the regional headquarters for all contract administration field offices within a geographic location. The regional headquarters for DPRO Thiokol became DCMR St. Louis. DCMR St. Louis also absorbed six other service PROs. In addition, DCMR St. Louis was regional headquarters for five Defense Contract Management Area Offices (DCMAOs) and a DPRO at Honeywell Corporation.
On August 19, 1990, DLA underwent the second phase of the reorganization in which the nine contract management regions were restructured into five districts. This resulted in the St. Louis Region and the Chicago Region combining; DCMR Chicago became the North Central District headquarters, with primary responsibility for all contract administration in the field offices under its control. Also, the North Central District acquired the DCMAO in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which, prior to the August 19 reorganization, had been part of DCMR Cleveland. DCMR Chicago did not absorb any service PROs in connection with the June 24 reorganization. The St. Louis Regional Office was redesignated as a Transition Management Office (TMO), with the purpose of assisting in the orderly transition to the district configuration for a period of up to 1 year. Many of the functions previously performed by DCMR St. Louis for its subordinate offices continued to be performed by the TMO.
All employees of the St. Louis Region as it existed prior to the absorption of the service PROs, with the exception of those located at DCMAO Denver, were and continue to be represented by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) in a consolidated nationwide unit. All the employees in the former Chicago Region and DCMAO Grand Rapids are also represented by AFGE in its consolidated unit. The AFGE unit employees are covered by a master collective bargaining agreement between DLA and AFGE. In addition, at the time of the hearing, the former St. Louis and Chicago Regions were also parties to separate supplemental agreements covering the AFGE unit employees in their respective regions. The AFGE unit employees at DCMAO Grand Rapids were similarly covered by a supplemental regional agreement executed by the former Cleveland DCMR. The only new DPRO that came into the St. Louis Region that was covered by a collective bargaining agreement is DPRO McDonnell Douglas, whose employees are represented by NFFE Local 2099. NFFE Local 2099 and DPRO McDonnell Douglas are parties to an agreement that was negotiated while DPRO McDonnell Douglas was operated by the Navy. All other employees of the DPROs that were placed in the St. Louis Region under the June 24 reorganization, with the exception of DPRO FMC Corporation, which was previously part of the AFGE Council of Locals, are unrepresented.
After receiving notice on July 19, 1990, from the DCMC Commander concerning the August 19 implementation date of the second phase of the reorganization, the Activity filed a motion to dismiss the petition as amended on April 12, and in the alternative, to postpone the hearing in this case. The Activity argued that because decisions concerning the transition had not been made, such as the locus and scope of authority of the personnel office servicing the proposed unit, the hearing should be postponed until the transition was complete. The Regional Director (RD) denied the Activity's motion. The hearing in this matter was held on August 28 and 29, 1990.
Before the RD, the Petitioner contended that the petitioned-for unit was appropriate. In this regard, it asserted that DPRO Thiokol employees possess a community of interest separate and apart from other DLA employees and that granting the petitioned-for unit would promote effective dealings and efficiency of agency operations. Although the Petitioner acknowledged that a broader bargaining unit may also be appropriate, it noted that NFFE already represents other PROs in DLA, including DPRO McDonnell Douglas, in separate bargaining units.
The Activity opposed the petition, arguing before the RD that the petitioned-for unit would increase fragmentation of DLA bargaining units. The Activity contended that DPRO Thiokol employees share no community of interest separate and apart from other offices within the North Central District and that granting the petitioned-for unit would fail to promote effective dealings and efficiency of agency operations. The Activity noted that the scope of authority of various functions, such as personnel and labor relations, were located at the district level. The Activity asserted that the bargaining unit should be structured in accordance with the organizational structure of the Activity. Accordingly, it took the position that the only appropriate unit was one consisting of all residual unrepresented employees of the North Central District.
The RD found, under all the circumstances, that the petitioned-for unit of DPRO Thiokol employees was appropriate under the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (the Statute). In so finding, the RD noted that the Activity's proposed residual bargaining unit was not necessarily inappropriate, but that, contrary to the contentions of the Activity, it was not the only appropriate unit.
The RD found that the employees of DPRO Thiokol share a clear and identifiable community of interest separate and apart from other employees within the North Central District. In this regard, the RD found that DPRO Thiokol is physically isolated from other secondary level field activities in the North Central District, and most of its employees are concentrated at the main plant. Additionally, the RD found that: (1) working conditions at DPRO Thiokol were described as modern and spacious when compared with other DPRO facilities; (2) DPRO Thiokol employees are the only employees in the district who perform contract administration functions for the booster rockets used in the space shuttle program administered by NASA; (3) work on the shuttle booster rockets creates safety hazards unique to DPRO Thiokol, including close proximity to concentrations of as much as one million pounds of rocket propellant; (4) although the organizational structure of DPRO Thiokol is similar to other DPROs, the Quality Assurance staff is larger at DPRO Thiokol due to the nature of the NASA's shuttle program; (5) the Quality Engineering Branch at DPRO Thiokol deals exclusively with the shuttle program and was created at the specific request of NASA to perform technical quality assurance functions; and (6) four sections in the Product Verification Branch perform strictly shuttle program quality inspections.
Further, the RD found that: (1) while DPRO employees within the district are essentially interchangeable in terms of function, job series and position descriptions, there have been only limited reassignments and no promotions since the June 24 reorganization due to a hiring freeze; (2) there has not been much interchange or transfer of employees between DPRO Thiokol and other offices within the North Central District; (3) few, if any transfers have taken place since June 24; and (4) temporary duty assignments to other DPROs were infrequent. The RD also found that although annual conferences are generally held among the various divisions, there has been little interaction between DPRO Thiokol employees and their counterparts at the other secondary level field activities in the North Central District.
The RD further found that while many policies concerning conditions of employment of DPRO Thiokol employees are governed by DLA regulations common to the entire North Central District, the local determination of numerous conditions of employment further establishes the distinct community of interest of DPRO Thiokol employees. In this regard, the RD noted, for example, that vacation and leave schedules are determined locally by the DPRO Thiokol management; overtime assignments and the overtime budget are determined locally; career-ladder promotions are made locally; and performance standards are developed locally without any input from the district level. The RD found that the policy concerning adverse weather conditions is also determined strictly at the DPRO Thiokol level.
Moreover, the RD found that although certain procedural reviews are conducted at the district level, hiring recommendations are made locally at DPRO Thiokol, appraisals are drafted and reviewed locally, position descriptions are drafted locally, and performance awards are initiated at the local level. In addition, the RD found that more employees perform shift work at DPRO Thiokol than at other offices within the North Central District, and that the area of consideration for RIFs is confined to a 100-mile radius from the affected office in Brigham City, Utah.
The RD dismissed the Activity's arguments that the petitioned-for unit would detract from effective dealings and efficiency of agency operations. The RD noted, in this regard, that the Activity relied principally on the location of effective control over labor relations and personnel functions being at the district level, where all personnel files are kept and where labor relations expertise and authority remain. The RD also noted the Activity's reliance on the importance of maintaining uniform quality assurance, contract management and personnel regulations. In this regard, the RD found that the Activity's concern for uniformity failed to note that the District administers three sets of regional supplements to DLA regulations. Moreover, the RD notes that although labor relations authority resides at the TMO, the Activity maintains a labor relations liaison at DPRO Thiokol. Further, the RD found that while the DPRO Thiokol Commander lacks authority to sign a collective bargaining agreement, he does retain certain authority to negotiate at the local level over local issues such as the impact and implementation of local changes in conditions of employment, adverse weather policy and parking. The RD concluded that although DPRO Thiokol receives considerable guidance from the district level, this does not preclude effective labor-management relations at the local level. In this regard, the RD noted that DLA management has not contested or otherwise challenged the continued appropriateness of the bargaining unit at DPRO McDonnell Douglas. The RD found that "[a]pparently, the District has successfully delegated bargaining authority to the secondary field level activity in the case of DPRO-McDonnell Douglas." RD's decision at 12.
Finally, the RD found that the Activity's concern for efficiency of agency operations is undermined by the requirement that the District is currently responsible for administering five separate collective bargaining agreements: the DLA-AFGE master agreement; three supplemental agreements negotiated at DCMR St. Louis, DCMR Chicago, and DCMR Cleveland; and the NFFE, Local 2099 contract covering unit employees at DPRO McDonnell Douglas. Thus, the RD concluded that a bargaining unit of DPRO Thiokol employees would promote effective dealings and efficiency of agency operations. Accordingly, having found the petitioned-for unit to be appropriate for the purposes of exclusive recognition, the RD directed an election in the unit.
III. Application for Review
The Activity maintains that compelling reasons exist for granting its application for review on the grounds that (1) the conduct of the hearing or a ruling made in connection with the proceeding resulted in prejudicial error; and (2) the RD's decision on a substantial factual issue is clearly erroneous and such error affects the rights of the Government.
The Activity asserts that the RD's denial of its motion to dismiss or to postpone the hearing resulted in prejudicial error and forced the Activity to proceed to hearing only 9 days into a major reorganizational alignment of the DLA. The Activity asserts that, at the time of the hearing, the Activity had not yet had time to make pertinent decisions regarding the transfer of authority from the St. Louis Region to the North Central District. It contends that the basis for its motion to postpone the hearing was that many of the variables regarding the transition from the realignment were unknown at the time and would affect the evidence to be adduced at the hearing. Examples of these variables, it argues, were the location and scope of authority of the servicing personnel offices, organizational structure of the district and the consolidation of bargaining units. The Activity claims that the denial of the Activity's motion resulted in the RD relying on erroneous information, as well as causing the fact-finder to draw assumptions and conclusions that were not based on fact or were based upon the best available information at the time of the hearing, but that is no longer true. This, the Activity contends, "resulted in prejudice to the [Activity] and amounted to prejudicial error as a result of denying the [Activity's] motion to postpone the hearing." Application at 4.
In this regard, the Activity notes that the basis relied upon by the RD for finding that the employees of DPRO Thiokol share a clear and identifiable community of interest included the findings that: there have been only limited reassignments and no promotions since the June 24 reorganization due to a hiring freeze; there has not been much interchange or transfer of employees between DPRO Thiokol and other offices within the North Central District; few, if any transfers have taken place since June 24; temporary duty assignments to other DPROs were described as infrequent; and there has been little interaction between DPRO Thiokol employees and their counterparts at other secondary level field activities in the District. It argues that the RD's decision penalized the Activity by making such findings when information on these matters could not have existed only nine days into the District restructuring. The Activity argues that by relying on the limited information available due to the short time since the restructuring, the RD drew a negative inference that there has been little interaction between DPRO counterparts. The Activity also contends that the RD disregarded or discounted the testimony of management witnesses regarding contacts between DPRO Thiokol employees and their regional counterparts and those witnesses' past experiences and expectations in this regard.
The Activity also argues that the RD's refusal to postpone the hearing affected the RD's findings on effective dealings and efficiency of agency operations. The RD reasoned that the Activity's concern for uniformity was undermined by the fact the District already administers three regional supplemental agreements. The Activity contends that although that was true at the time of the hearing, 9 days after the realignment, the RD did not consider the testimony of the management witness who testified that within a specified time frame only one supplemental agreement would exist. In fact, the Activity contends that is now the case because two of the supplements have expired and it will be administering only one supplement. Further, the Activity notes that the RD relied upon the factor that the Activity maintains a labor relations liaison at DPRO Thiokol, but that this personnel management specialist position has since been abolished. The Activity asserts that the testimony established that the status of that position was uncertain at the time of the hearing. It contends that by relying on these factors that were at best unknown at the time of the hearing, the RD greatly prejudiced the Activity by proceeding to the hearing.
With regard to its second ground for review, the Activity contends that the following findings on which the RD based her conclusion that the proposed unit would not hinder efficiency of agency operations are clearly erroneous and that such error prejudicially affected its rights: (1) the District already administers three sets of regional supplements to DLA regulations; (2) the Activity maintains a labor relations liaison at DPRO Thiokol; (3) the District has successfully delegated bargaining authority to DPRO McDonnell Douglas; and (4) the District is currently administering five separate collective bargaining agreements.
As to the RD's finding that the District is administering three supplemental bargaining agreements to the AFGE consolidated unit's master agreement, the Activity contends such a finding is clearly erroneous because it fails to consider all of the testimony and evidence concerning the reorganization and transition to the district structure. The Activity argues that this factual finding was a major factor in the RD's finding on efficiency of agency operations and thus prejudicially and unfairly affected the Government. The Activity argues that the RD failed to consider the testimony of the management witness explaining that the three supplemental agreements were inherited on August 19 when fragments of three different AFGE consolidated units combined into one district structure. Further, it contends that the RD's finding is contrary to testimony that two of the regional supplements would become null and void 180 days after the new master agreement was put into effect and that the intent was that there would be one supplemental agreement covering all AFGE unit employees in the District. In this regard also, the Activity disputes the RD's finding that the District is currently responsible for administering five separate collective bargaining agreements. First, it argues that, as noted, the evidence clearly showed that the District would be negotiating, and currently is administering, one supplemental AFGE agreement. Next, the Activity argues that the AFGE master agreement and the supplement are one document. Therefore, the Activity contends that the District administers only two bargaining agreements, one for the AFGE consolidated unit of locals and another for the NFFE local at DPRO McDonnell Douglas. The finding that the District administers five agreements, it asserts, is clearly erroneous and resulted in a prejudicial finding that the proposed unit would not hinder effective dealings with the Activity.
The Activity contends that to the extent the RD found that the District administers three sets of supplemental agency regulations, her finding is also clearly erroneous. It argues that the testimony clearly indicated that one set of District procedures and policies would prevail in the future, although those types of decisions had not yet been made at the time of the hearing.
As to the RD's finding that the Activity maintains a labor relations liaison at DPRO Thiokol, the Activity noted that such a finding related to the existence of a personnel specialist who was located as a satellite employee of the St. Louis personnel office on-site at the time of the hearing. The Activity contends that the personnel specialist testified at the hearing that she did not know whether her position would remain and that, in fact, the position has been since abolished under the district structure. The Activity argues that the reliance on that erroneous finding negatively affected the Government.
The Activity also disputes the RD's finding that DLA management has not contested or otherwise challenged the continued appropriateness of the bargaining unit at DPRO McDonnell Douglas and that apparently the District has successfully delegated bargaining authority to the secondary level field activity in that instance. This statement, the Activity claims, disregards the testimony of the management witness concerning the development of this separate unit's inclusion in the District structure. The Activity argues that the RD's assumption that it has delegated bargaining authority to the local DPRO Commander to negotiate with the NFFE unit is not supported anywhere in the record and is basically contrary to the testimony of the management witness. According to the Activity, the witness testified that a DPRO Commander has little negotiating authority, citing a local weather policy as the only example of a negotiable matter at the DPRO level and that almost everything else would be negotiated at a higher level. The Activity contends that the witness further testified that personnel policies and procedures may not be supplemented beyond the District level. The Activity asserts, therefore, that the RD's assumption that there are local negotiations is simply not based in fact and has unduly prejudiced it with respect to whether the proposed unit will promote effective dealings.
IV. Analysis and Conclusions
We conclude, for the reasons stated below, that no compelling reasons exist within the meaning of section 2422.17(c) of the Authority's Rules and Regulations for granting the application for review.
A. The Activity Was Not Prejudiced by the RD's Denial of Its Motion to Postpone
We find that the Activity has failed to show that the RD's denial of its motion to postpone the hearing resulted in prejudicial error. As set forth above, the Activity claimed in its motion to the RD that certain decisions regarding the realignment and transition to the district structure, which were unknown at the time, would affect the evidence adduced at the hearing. It pointed to such variables as the location and scope of authority of the servicing personnel office, the organizational structure of the District and the consolidation of bargaining units. The Activity contends that because the RD proceeded with the hearing, she relied upon erroneous information, which caused her to draw assumptions and conclusions that were not based on fact or were based upon the best available information at the time of the hearing that are no longer true.
In reviewing the record, we find that the Activity was not prejudiced because of the transitional nature of its organization at the time of the hearing. Rather, we find that the Activity had sufficient knowledge as to the relevant elements of its organizational structure at that time to create an adequate record in that regard. For example, the Activity was able to place on the record evidence relating to its implementation plans and objectives, including the anticipated scope of authority, district structure and how it would deal with its established units of recognition. Except for such details as how it would merge the various regional regulations into one set of district regulations, the Activity clearly knew at the time of the hearing how the realignment would generally be implemented, although full implementation was estimated to take about a year.
Thus, the record established that the authority of the St. Louis Regional Commander was transferred to the North Central District Commander on August 19, and that during an approximately 1-year transitional period the St. Louis office would continue, as a TMO, to handle certain functions, such as personnel management, for the secondary level field offices that were formerly under its command, including DPRO Thiokol. Further, it was clear at the time of the hearing that the District would be the primary level of administration, and as such, that the scope of authority of the District office would basically be that of the former region, with operational control over DPRO Thiokol. The evidence also showed that the working relationship between DPRO Thiokol and the District would be similar to what it was under DCMR St. Louis in terms of organizational structure and command authority. Transcript at 47-51. Thus, it appears that the organizational restructuring to the district configuration had a minimal effect on the command authority with regard to DPRO Thiokol. Further, the evidence showed that the DLA and AFGE had arrived at an understanding as to their bargaining arrangement. Id. at 101-03, 115-16.
Accordingly, despite the Activity's claim in its motion to the contrary, we find that the Activity was able to develop a sufficient record. In this regard, evidence was sufficiently adduced regarding the location and scope of authority of the servicing personnel office, the organizational structure of the District and the consolidation of bargaining units. We find that the RD's decision not to postpone the hearing did not prejudice the Activity because, with minor exceptions that we find not to be significant to the outcome, the Activity has not argued before us that there are any changed circumstances at this juncture that were not described or predicted in the record reviewed by the RD. Therefore, a postponement would not have allowed the Activity to garner additional evidence that would have materially affected the RD's decision.
The Activity raises questions specifically about the personnel management specialist position at DPRO Thiokol and the RD's reliance on incomplete information regarding employee reassignments and contacts due to the recent implementation of its reorganization and the hiring freeze at the time. With regard to these matters, we note that the Authority has held that decisions regarding unit determinations must reflect the conditions of employment that existed at the time of the hearing rather than what may exist in the future unless there are definite and imminent changes planned by the agency. See National Association of Government Employees, Local R-12-35, 8 FLRA 649, 650 n.3 (1982); see also U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, Yuma Projects Office, Yuma, Arizona, 37 FLRA 239 (1990) (in cases involving a determination as to the bargaining status of an employee who has recently encumbered a position, Authority will consider duties not yet performed by that employee only where the employee has been informed that those duties will be assigned in the future, the nature of the job requires such duties and the employee is not performing the duties at the time of the hearing solely because of lack of experience in the job). Although in this case some facts have changed since the hearing, it could not have been predicted at the time the Activity requested the postponement whether or when those changes would take place. Accordingly, there was no reason to delay the employees' rights to be represented merely because there were potential changes that could affect the unit. Therefore, we dismiss the Activity's objections to the RD's findings in this regard.
Accordingly, we find no merit in the Activity's assertions that the RD's denial of its motion to postpone the hearing resulted in prejudicial error.
B. The Activity's Rights Were Not Prejudicially Affected by the RD's Errors on Factual Issues
We find that the Activity was not prejudiced by any errors on factual issues made by the RD. In this regard, we agree with the Activity that the RD's findings that the District would be administering three regional supplements to DLA regulations and three regional supplements to the DLA-AFGE master agreement were contrary to the evidence produced on the record. The testimony clearly showed that within a specified time frame the District was to administer one set of supplemental regulations and one supplement to the DLA-AFGE master agreement. Further, the record does not support the RD's assumption that the District has delegated bargaining authority to DPRO McDonnell Douglas. Although the RD's decisions on these factual issues were clearly erroneous, we find that such errors did not prejudicially affect the Activity's rights. Consequently, we still find, for the reasons set out below, that the petitioned-for unit is an appropriate unit for recognition.
Under section 7112(a)(1) of the Statute, the Authority must determine in each representation case whether a proposed unit will ensure a clear and identifiable community of interest among the employees in that unit and will promote effective dealings with, and efficiency of the operations of, the agency involved.
We specifically adopt the RD's findings and reasoning that the employees of DPRO Thiokol share a clear and identifiable community of interest separate and apart from other employees within the North Central District. Further, we find that the petitioned-for unit will promote effective dealings with the Activity, and will support the efficiency of the Activity's operations.
In this latter regard, we conclude that, despite the errors made in the RD's decision, the unit found by the RD to be appropriate will nonetheless promote effective dealings between the employees and management. The RD found that the employees in the petitioned-for unit have concerns that are local in nature. Thus, to a large degree, the conditions of employment of DPRO Thiokol employees are tied to the manufacturer, Morton Thiokol, and to the product produced at the manufacturer's facilities, primarily, the booster rockets used in the space shuttle program administered by NASA. Consequently, there are certain personnel issues that are distinct to DPRO Thiokol. These include: unique safety hazards; a larger than usual quality assurance staff; a Quality Engineering Branch that deals exclusively with the shuttle program that was created at the specific request of NASA; and a greater number of employees that perform shift work at DPRO Thiokol than at other offices in the District. These issues, in turn, could be translated into contractual or administrative matters that would be unique to DPRO Thiokol.
Further, we conclude, based on record evidence, that the DPRO Thiokol Commander has the authority to administer the requirements of the government contract with Thiokol and deal with the day-to-day operations at the plant under policy set at DLA and at the district level. This authority includes dealing with the various concerns of the employees, such as safety and health. Although the Commander may seek the expertise of the Safety and Health Manager at a higher level, it is the Commander's responsibility ultimately to deal with the issue. Transcript at 150-52. Similarly, the record does not indicate that the Commander is precluded from effectively administering a negotiated agreement between the Activity and an exclusive representative. In this regard, if a problem arises, the Commander could turn to the expertise of the labor relations personnel at the district level as he does with the Safety and Health Manager when faced with a safety issue.
In addition, it is established that the Commander currently has certain authority to negotiate at the local level over local issues such as the impact and implementation of local changes in conditions of employment, adverse weather policy and parking. Also, as the Activity must establish an arrangement to deal with the NFFE, Local 2099 unit at DPRO McDonnell Douglas, it should also be able to deal effectively with an exclusive unit at DPRO Thiokol. Therefore, we adopt the RD's conclusion that although the DPRO Thiokol Commander receives considerable guidance from the district level, this does not preclude effective labor-management relations at the local level. Accordingly, we conclude that the factual errors made by the RD do not affect the RD's finding that the petitioned-for unit will promote effective dealings between the parties.
We also conclude that the factual errors have no substantial bearing on the RD's finding regarding the efficiency of agency operations. Thus, taking into account the corrected findings, we conclude that the petitioned-for unit would neither cause undue fragmentation nor hinder the efficiency of the Activity's operation. In this regard, DPRO Thiokol is a separate organizational component of the Activity, a secondary level field activity, with its own commander, performing contract administration functions at a separate manufacturer, which is geographically remote and which manufactures a product that is different from any other administered in the District. The local commander has certain authority within the organizational component to administer the day-to-day mission of the organizational component, including solving problems unique to the component. Thus, we find that DPRO Thiokol is not so functionally integrated with the other organizational components of the District that the petitioned-for unit would artificially fragment or cross the Activity's organizational line structure in a significant manner.
The Activity relies on the errors made by the RD to argue the importance of maintaining uniform standards for quality assurance, contract management and personnel management. We note, however, that every agency has centralized control, directives and regulations in order to maintain uniformity within its organization. We do not dispute the need for maintaining a certain level of uniformity within an organization. If, however, the Authority were required to find units confined to one location to be inappropriate whenever the facts indicate some centralized control of administrative and personnel matters, we would find few local units to be appropriate. We do not believe that section 7112 of the Statute requires such a result.
Here, as noted, DPRO Thiokol is organizationally a separate and distinctive component, unique because it deals with a specific manufacturer and produces a distinctive product. In these circumstances, we find that an exclusive bargaining unit organized along this same line should lead to efficient agency operations. Where, as here, the employees share a community of interest at the local level, and there are no significant countervailing factors that require a finding that only a larger unit is appropriate, a good collective bargaining relationship at the local level should enhance the efficiency of the Activity's operations. Compare Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, New England Region, 20 FLRA 224 (1985), where the Authority found the petitioned-for unit not to be appropriate, in significant part because the employees did not share a clear and identifiable community of interest separate and distinct from other employees of the agency, whose mission required strict nationwide uniformity to ensure safety within the air transport system.
Accordingly, having found that the Activity was not prejudiced by any errors on substantial factual issues made by the RD, or by the RD's refusal to postpone the hearing, we find that the petitioned-for unit is an appropriate unit for recognition.
The application for review is denied.
(If blank, the decision does not have footnotes.)