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47:1297(119)CU - - Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth, Virginia and Tidewater Virginia Federal Employees Metal Trades Council (PEPS Unit), Intl. Fedration of Professional and Technical Engineers, Local 35 - - 1993 FLRAdec CU - - v47 p1297

[ v47 p1297 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:

47 FLRA No. 119
















July 21, 1993


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 Petitioner (Local 35) under section 2422.17(a) of the Authority's Rules and Regulations. In its petition before the Regional Director (RD), Local 35 sought to clarify the bargaining unit for which it is the exclusive representative to include employees classified as ship production controllers. In his Decision and Order on Petition for Clarification of Unit, the RD found that the ship production controllers no longer share a community of interest with the employees represented by Local 35. The RD, therefore, excluded the ship production controllers from Local 35's bargaining unit and dismissed the petition.

Local 35 seeks review of the RD's decision. The Activity filed an opposition to Local 35's application for review. For the reasons discussed below, we find that Local 35 has not established any basis for review of the RD's Decision and Order. Accordingly, we deny the application for review.

II. Background and Regional Director's Decision

Since 1967, Local 35 has been recognized as the exclusive representative of a bargaining unit of Activity employees. At the time of recognition, the unit consisted of planner-estimators, ship progressmen, and ship schedulers. The employees in these classifications were wage-grade employees under the Federal Wage System and were located in the scheduling section of the Activity's production department. Since at least 1969, the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, Local 1, AFL-CIO (Local 1) has been recognized as the exclusive representative of another bargaining unit consisting of "[a]ll graded professional, nonprofessional, and technical employees in the engineering sciences and associated fields," including, among others, employees classified as production controllers. RD's Decision at 2-3 n.2.

In May 1990, the ship progressmen positions in Local 35's unit were abolished. The employees in these positions were reassigned to positions in the general schedule as ship production controllers, GS-1152-9, in the Activity's engineering and planning department represented by Local 1.

The record shows that in 1990, the Activity conducted desk audits of the ship scheduler positions. The Activity determined that the trade knowledge of the ship schedulers (for example, electrical or mechanical knowledge) was no longer of primary importance. Rather, the Activity determined that, because the primary function of the scheduling section is to sequence and schedule shipboard repair work, assignments of work should thereafter be based on workload criteria rather than trade knowledge. In April 1992, as part of an Activity reorganization, the employees in ship scheduler positions in the production department were reassigned as ship production controllers, GS-1152-11, and transferred to the Activity's engineering and planning department. It is these employees, ship production controllers, that Local 35 seeks by its petition to include in its recognized bargaining unit.

The RD found that, following the reorganization, the disputed employees were "no longer under the command of the Production Department," but rather "are now part of the Engineering and Planning Department[,] which is supervised at the third level . . . and above by engineers." Id. at 4-5 (footnote omitted). The RD noted that at the time of the hearing the ship production controllers were still supervised at the first level by supervisory ship schedulers, whose positions "had not yet been reclassified as Supervisory Production Controllers." Id. at 5 n.5. At the second level, the disputed employees were still supervised, as they had been prior to the reorganization, by a supervisory production controller. At the third level and above, they were now supervised by engineers rather than by production supervisors. The RD noted that "historically, wherever Planner-Estimators, Ship Schedulers or Ship Progressmen were promoted or reassigned as Production Controllers, their dues with[h]olding was terminated and they were moved into the bargaining unit represented by Local 1." Id.

The RD "concluded that the [disputed] employees have undergone meaningful changes in their jobs." Id. In support of this conclusion, the RD found that the disputed employees were ship schedulers who had been reassigned as ship production controllers and had been transferred "to a new organizational component." Id. The RD found that the transfer had resulted in a "change in [these employees'] pay category and job duties whereby trade skills are no longer of paramount importance" and the employees' "new duties reflect a shift from trade-specific functions to a broader system-oriented approach." Id. The RD concluded that, in view of the "significant changes in the [disputed employees'] job duties, and noting that Local 1 has historically represented employees classified as Production Controllers . . . the disputed employees and the unit employees represented by Local 35 no longer share a clear and identifiable community of interest [as required by] section 7112(a)(1) of the Statute." Id. at 5-6. The RD further concluded that the disputed employees' "continued inclusion in the unit" would not "promote effective dealings and efficiency of agency operations." Id. at 6. Accordingly, the RD dismissed Local 35's petition.

III. Positions of the Parties

A. Local 35

Local 35 contends that "compelling reasons exist for the Authority to review the RD's decision." Application at 1. Local 35 alleges that the RD's decision "raises substantial questions of law[,] as it is a departure from [A]uthority precedent" and is based "upon clearly erroneous factual determinations." Id.

Local 35 asserts that although the Activity's reorganization in 1992 resulted in reclassifying ship schedulers as ship production controllers and in reassigning them to the engineering and planning department, this action did not destroy the community of interest the ship schedulers had with planner-estimators in the production department. Local 35 argues that the change in ship schedulers' duties did not change the basic method of performing their jobs, but rather "simply reflected a change in emphasis in the former [s]hip [s]chedulers' duties which had occurred nearly ten years before." Id. at 3.

Local 35 cites several cases in which the Authority, according to Local 35, "evaluated each aspect of the [agency's] reorganization" in order to determine whether disputed employees "were organizationally and operationally separated" from and, therefore, "no longer [had] a community of interest with[,]" employees in a recognized or certified bargaining unit. Id. at 4-6.(1) Local 35 argues that the RD did not consider these factors and made no findings of fact "regarding any operational or organizational integration of the disputed employees with the employees represented by IFPTE, Local 1." Id. at 7. Local 35 argues further that "Local 1 claimed no interest in representing the disputed employees and testified that the [disputed employees] did not share a community of interest with other employees represented by Local 1[.]" Id. Therefore, Local 35 argues, "the RD's decision is at odds with Authority precedent and should be reviewed and reversed." Id.

Local 35 contends that the RD also made clearly erroneous findings on substantial factual issues. Local 35 states that "[t]here is no dispute that the employees' job assignments did change over time from an emphasis on assignments by trade background to assignments by work package." Id. However, it asserts that there was also "uncontradicted evidence that the essential job scheduling and sequencing work and the methodology used to perform the job remained unchanged. Moreover[,] the change . . . occurred over a long period of time . . . and was driven by a change in the nature of the work." Id. Finally, Local 35 contends that the RD "relies heavily on a finding that the disputed employee[s'] 'command' changed," while in fact the command has always been the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. Id. Local 35 argues that the change in supervision brought about by the reorganization has, contrary to the RD's findings, "enhanced the community of interest between the disputed employees and the remainder of IFPTE Local 35's bargaining unit." Id. at 8.

B. Activity

The Activity opposes Local 35's application for review. The Activity disputes Local 35's claim that the basic job assignment of ship schedulers did not change. Rather, the Activity argues, the record shows that the "knowledge requirements and duties [of the ship schedulers] actually shifted" and "are unlike those of the [p]lanners and [e]stimators." Opposition at 2. The Activity also disputes Local 35's claim that the reclassification of the ship schedulers simply reflected a change in the emphasis of those employees' jobs. Rather, the Activity argues that the change in the employees' jobs reflected a change "from trade-specific to technical and from trade-specific to whole-ship" duties that were "most clearly related" to the duties of production controllers. Id.

The Activity asserts that the Authority cases relied upon by Local 35 are not relevant to this case because those cases dealt with reorganizations, but did not involve questions as to the effect of changes in the essential nature of employees' duties that resulted in reclassification and reassignment.

The Activity challenges Local 35's allegation that "there is 'uncontradicted evidence that the essential job [of the disputed employees] remained unchanged.'" Id. at 3, quoting Application at 7. According to the Activity, Local 35's allegation is not supported by any "summary of the 'uncontradicted evidence' or citations from the transcript" as required by the Authority's Regulations and, moreover, is "diametrically opposed" to the facts established by the record. Id. The Activity requests that the application be denied.

IV. Analysis and Conclusions

We conclude, for the reasons that follow, that compelling reasons do not exist within the meaning of section 2422.17(c) of the Authority's Rules and Regulations for granting Local 35's application for review.

Although the RD did not cite specific Authority precedent, we find that the RD's decision does not constitute a departure from Authority precedent, such as SSA, Fort George G. Meade, and FAA. The Authority cases relied upon by Local 35 to demonstrate that the RD departed from precedent involved questions of whether entire bargaining units continued to be appropriate, or had been accreted into other existing units. In this case, Local 35's bargaining unit continues to be an appropriate unit. The question presented by the case is whether the disputed employees continue to share a community of interest with the planner-estimators in that bargaining unit, and whether the RD made sufficient findings to support his conclusion in this regard.

In reaching his decision, the RD found that: (1) the wage-grade ship scheduler jobs that the disputed employees had performed in the production department had undergone significant changes; (2) the disputed employees had been reassigned to positions as general schedule ship production controllers and had been transferred to and become a part of the wage system and under the supervision of the engineering and planning department; and (3) the disputed employees' new jobs as ship production controllers reflected a shift from a trade-specific approach to scheduling to a broader system-oriented approach. With respect to the last point, the record shows that the function of planner-estimators requires knowledge of which trades are needed to accomplish each specific ship repair, while the function of ship production controllers requires knowledge of when each of the trades must be scheduled in order to complete the overall repair of the ships. The RD concluded that the disputed employees no longer share a clear and identifiable community of interest with the planner-estimators in Local 35's bargaining unit, and that the continued inclusion of those employees in the unit would not promote effective dealings with, and efficiency of the operations of, the Agency. Contrary to Local 35's contentions, we find that the RD employed the proper criteria, based his decision on sufficient and appropriate findings, and did not depart from Authority precedent in reaching his decision in this case.(2) See, for example, Defense Mapping Agency, Aerospace Center, St. Louis, Missouri, 46 FLRA 502, 509 (1992).

We also find that the RD did not make clearly erroneous findings on substantial factual issues. While Local 35 admits that the jobs of the disputed employees changed over a period of time, it contends that the basic nature of their jobs had not changed. However, the RD found to the contrary. The RD, citing record facts, found that the jobs of the disputed employees had undergone meaningful and significant changes, that the employees had been reassigned to the same classifications as others in the planning and engineering department, and that the employees had been transferred to that department under new supervision. We find that Local 35 has not demonstrated that the RD made clearly erroneous findings on substantial factual issues. Rather, Local 35's arguments simply constitute disagreement with some of the RD's factual findings, the emphasis he placed on some of his findings, and the conclusions he reached based on his findings.

In sum, we find that Local 35 has not shown that a substantial question of law or policy has been raised by the RD's decision because of a departure from Authority precedent, and has not shown that the RD's decision on any substantial factual issue was clearly erroneous and that such error prejudicially affected the rights of Local 35.

V. Order

The application for review is denied.

(If blank, the decision does not have footnotes.)

1. Local 35 cites, among others, Social Security Administration, Baltimore, Maryland, 43 FLRA 1245 (1992) (SSA); Headquarters, 97th U.S. Army Reserve Command, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, 32 FLRA 567 (1988) (Fort George G. Meade); and Federal Aviation Administration, Aviation Standards National Field Office, 15 FLRA 60 (1984) (FAA).

2. The RD's finding that the disputed employees had been transferred to the engineering and planning department is relevant only to the extent that it supports the finding that the disputed employees no longer share a community of interest with the planner-estimators, the only issue before the RD. To the extent that the RD's findings imply that the disputed employees accreted to Local 1's bargaining unit, we specifically disavow those findings as irrelevant to the

disposition of this case.