51:1725(146)NG - - AFGE Local 1138, Council 214 & Air Foce Materiel Command, 645 Air Base Wing/CE, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH - - 1996 FLRAdec NG - - v51 p1725
[ v51 p1725 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:
51 FLRA No. 146
FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY
AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES
LOCAL 1138, COUNCIL 214
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE
AIR FORCE MATERIEL COMMAND
645 AIR BASE WING/CE
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, OHIO
DECISION AND ORDER ON A NEGOTIABILITY ISSUE
July 31, 1996
Before the Authority: Phyllis N. Segal, Chair; Tony Armendariz and Donald S. Wasserman, Members.(1)
I. Statement of the Case
This case is before the Authority on a negotiability appeal filed by the Union under section 7105(a)(2)(E) of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (the Statute), and concerns the negotiability of one proposal. For the reasons set forth below, we conclude that the proposal is outside the duty to bargain.
II. Proposal (2)
d. Inasmuch as the number of WG-10 Boiler Mechanic employees currently outnumber the number of WG-10 Boiler Mechanic positions established by management (per attachment to their briefing memo of 9 Jul 93), all WG-10 Boiler Mechanics will be placed on the same seniority list with the WG-10 Boiler Operators for purposes of bidding on the jobs identified by the Employer. Such seniority shall be audited for accuracy by the Union prior to implementing these procedures.
e. When positions become vacant after the above selections have been made, they will be posted IAW [in accordance with] Section H.(4) of Article XIV of the Local Supplement. Reassignment will be determined by seniority of the applicants. The position left vacant by such reassignment will then be posted IAW Section H.(4) if management intends to place someone in that vacated position, either temporarily or permanently. It will also be filled by the most senior applicant.
III. Positions of the Parties (3)
According to the Agency, the proposal would require it to place Boiler Plant Operators (operators) and Boiler Plant Mechanics (mechanics) who are at the WG-10 level on the same seniority list and treat them the same for purposes of assignment to a position and shift. The Agency asserts that the proposal directly interferes with management's rights to assign employees under section 7106(a)(2)(A) and assign work under section 7106(a)(2)(B) of the Statute. The Agency maintains that operators and mechanics are not "equally qualified" and, therefore, should not be on the same seniority list because, if they are on the same list, the Agency could be required to assign operators to mechanic positions and mechanics to operator positions. The Agency states that mechanics are "basically qualified to do the job of an [o]perator," but operators have not received the necessary training and job experience to be considered fully qualified to perform the work of the mechanic position. Agency's Brief at 5. The Agency maintains that operators are not fully qualified because they do not possess the specific qualifications, including training and experience, that the Agency has determined are necessary for an operator to perform successfully in the mechanic position. The Agency argues that the proposal would allow employees to determine their position assignments without regard to the Agency's determination as to which employees have the requisite qualifications for the position.
According to the Union, when a mechanic or operator is promoted to the WG-10 journeyman level, the Agency has made a determination that the employee has the skills and qualifications needed to perform the work of both the mechanic and operator positions because "[a]ll WG-10 [b]oiler mechanics and operators are fully-qualified to interchange tasks and cross-over" to the WG-10 operator and WG-10 mechanic positions, respectively. Petition at 4. The Union claims that the proposal does not deprive the Agency of the discretion to determine which employees possess the qualifications and skills needed to perform mechanic and operator duties at the WG-10 level.
The Union asserts that the proposal constitutes an appropriate arrangement for mechanics and operators and would reinstitute the parties' former practice of allowing employees to bid annually on either mechanic or operator positions based on seniority.
IV. Analysis and Conclusions
A. Meaning of Proposal
Based on the parties' submissions, we construe the proposal as requiring the Agency to place mechanics and operators on the same seniority list for purposes of bidding for permanent assignments to mechanic positions and the "'realigned operator positions'" established by the Agency after downsizing.(4) Petition at 2-3. Under the proposal, mechanic and operator positions will be filled based on seniority from among those who bid for the positions. Consistent with the wording of the proposal, the parties' Local Supplement and their submissions, we interpret the proposal as allowing the Agency to reject an employee's request for reassignment only on the basis of seniority. It is undisputed that because selections would be made from a common seniority list, the proposal could result in mechanics being selected for operator positions or operators being selected for mechanic positions. The Agency objects to the proposal only on the basis that the proposal could result in operators being selected for mechanic positions.(5)
B. The Proposal Affects Management's Rights to Assign Employees Within the Meaning of Section 7106(a)(2)(A)
1. Analytical Framework
The Authority has long held that management's right to assign employees under section 7106(a)(2)(A) includes the right to establish the necessary qualifications and skills for a position, and to assess whether employees under consideration for assignment to a position possess the requisite qualifications and skills. E.g., National Air Traffic Controllers Association, Local C90 and U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, 45 FLRA 469, 476 (1992); American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO and Air Force Logistics, Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, 2 FLRA 603, 612-14 (1980) (Wright-Patterson AFB), enforced Department of Defense v. FLRA, 659 F.2d 1140, 1148-49 (D.C. Cir. 1981) (Dept. of Defense), cert. denied, AFGE v. FLRA, 455 U.S. 945 (1982).
In establishing qualifications and skills for a position under section 7106(a)(2)(A) of the Statute, management may require more than the "minimum qualifications" for the position that are established by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).(6) In particular, an agency may also require employees to possess additional specific knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to do the work of the position, e.g., National Federation of Federal Employees, Local 738 and Department of the Army, Headquarters, USA Medical Department Activity, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, 34 FLRA 809, 812 (1990),(7) and certain necessary job-related individual characteristics such as judgment and reliability, e.g., American Federation of Government Employees, Local 2663 and Veterans Administration Medical Center, Kansas City, Missouri, 31 FLRA 988, 989 (1988). See American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, Local 1336 v. FLRA, 829 F.2d 683, 686 (8th Cir. 1987); U.S. Naval Ordnance Station v. FLRA, 818 F.2d 545, 549-51 (6th Cir. 1987); Dept. of Defense, 659 F.2d at 1148-49, 1160. Proposals that prevent management from establishing the knowledge, skills, and abilities required by a position and determining position assignments based on management's assessment of whether employees possess those knowledge, skills, and abilities have been found to directly interfere with management's right to assign employees under 7106(a)(2)(A) of the Statute. E.g., Federal Employees Metal Trades Council of Charleston and U.S. Department of the Navy, Charleston Naval Shipyard, Charleston, South Carolina, 44 FLRA 683, 687-89 (1992) (Charleston Naval Shipyard).
Where management has determined that certain employees are "equally qualified" for an assignment to a particular position, the Authority has held that a proposal which sets forth a method or criteria for selecting employees for the position assignment does not directly interfere with management's right to assign employees. E.g., Overseas Education Association, Inc. and Department of Defense Dependents Schools, 29 FLRA 734, 793 (1987) (OEA), aff'd mem. as to other matters, 872 F.2d 1032 (D.C. Cir. 1988).(8) In this context, the term "equally qualified" refers to employees who are determined by management to be relatively equal in terms of their knowledge, skills, and abilities. See National Association of Government Employees, Local R1-144, Federal Union of Scientists and Engineers and U.S. Department of the Navy, Naval Underwater Systems Center, Newport, Rhode Island, 38 FLRA 456, 494-95 (1990), decision on remand as to other matters 43 FLRA 47 (1991). Management's right to assess whether employees are equally qualified extends beyond the determination of whether employees possess the minimum qualifications for a position and includes the right to determine whether employees are relatively equal in terms of the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities, including job-related individual characteristics, required for a position. Id. See also National Federation of Federal Employees, Local 1482 and U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Mapping Agency, Hydrographic/Topographic Center, Louisville Office, Louisville, Kentucky, 45 FLRA 52, 69-70 (1992); American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, Local 987 and U.S. Department of the Air Force, Warner Robins Air Force Logistics Center, Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, 35 FLRA 265, 269-72 (1990) (Robins Air Force Base).
Where, as here, a union claims that a proposal requiring selection for assignment on the basis of seniority does not directly interfere with management's right to assign employees because management has determined that the employees covered by the proposal are equally qualified for the particular assignments and the agency disputes that claim, the Authority will decide, based on the record before it, whether management has determined that employees are equally qualified for the particular assignment. Cf. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Social Security Administration, Baltimore, Maryland and Social Security Administration, Hartford District Office, Hartford Connecticut, 41 FLRA 1309, 1319-20 (1991) (in response to an agency's claim that Proposal 13, which provided for rotation of employees based on seniority, directly interfered with the agency's right to assign work under section 7106(a)(2)(B), the Authority decided, based on the record, that the agency had determined that the employees were all qualified to perform the work).
Where the record before the Authority establishes that a proposal requiring selection for assignment of work on the basis of seniority applies to employees whom management has already determined are equally qualified, the Authority has held that the proposal does not interfere with management's right to assign. Id.; cf. National Treasury Employees Union, Local Chapter 48 and U.S. Department of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, Richmond, Virginia, 34 FLRA 171 (1990) (an arbitration award, enforcing a provision in the parties' collective bargaining agreement addressing recall of seasonal employees, did not prevent management from determining the qualifications of employees or interfere with its right to assign employees because the record established that management previously judged the employees to be equally qualified). In contrast, where the record before the Authority establishes that an agency has determined that employees are not equally qualified, a proposal requiring the use of seniority as a tie-breaker among those employees interferes with management's right to assign employees. Robins Air Force Base, 35 FLRA at 270-71.
2. Application of the Analytical Framework
The Agency acknowledges that there are similarities between operator and mechanic positions and that all mechanics and operators are "minimally qualified" to perform the duties of both positions. Agency Supplement at 2. In this regard, the record demonstrates that the minimum qualifications--the knowledge and skill requirements--for the WG-5309-10 Boiler Plant Equipment Mechanic and the WG-5402-10 Boiler Plant Operator positions are identical. See Attachments to the Agency Supplement and Union Supplement (which include position descriptions for the WG-5309-10 Boiler Plant Equipment Mechanic and the WG-5402-10 Boiler Plant Operator).(9) In addition, mechanics and operators are assigned many of the same duties and responsibilities. See id.
The record reflects other similarities between mechanics and operators. For example, at various times during the work year, including the summer shutdown referenced by the Union, some mechanics are assigned the duties and responsibilities of the operator position and teams of operators perform a variety of routine mechanic duties. Agency Supplement at 2; Union Supplement at 2. However, the record also reflects that operators perform these duties "with either a supervisor or a mechanic leading." Agency Supplement at 2. In addition, the record also reflects that the Agency has made overtime assignments of the work of those positions from an overtime roster of mechanics and operators, although the record does not make clear the nature of the overtime assignments. Union Supplement at 3. Finally, the record reflects that, before 1987, the Agency used mechanics and operators interchangeably and allowed employees to bid annually on either mechanic or operator positions. In 1987, the parties agreed that mechanics and operators could select permanent assignment to the boiler mechanic positions on the day shift. After the 1987 agreement was signed, only the remaining operators were allowed to bid for shift assignments. Union Supplement at 3.
Despite these similarities, the record indicates a significant difference between operators and mechanics. In particular, as stated in the position description, the overall purpose of the boiler plant operator position is "to provide for the operation and maintenance of boilers and auxiliary equipment within a central heating plant and/or at other locations . . . ." Attachment to the Agency Supplement. As stated in the boiler equipment mechanic position description, the overall purpose of the position is to "perform equipment maintenance, overhaul, and major repair of boilers and auxiliary equipment." Id. Consistent with the different purposes of the two positions, the Agency states that "[o]perators cannot independently perform extensive overhauls of systems, pumps or auxiliary equipment" and each "operator must still have on the job training in order to become fully qualified to perform the full range of the duties and be knowledgeable of the variety of pumps and systems that need to be maintained, repaired or replaced within a plant." Id. The Union acknowledges that "on the job training in both the areas of maintenance and operations" is required for employees to perform the full range of the duties of the operator and mechanic positions. Union Supplement at 2.
There is no evidence in the record that all operators affected by the proposal either have completed the necessary on-the-job training. The Union's assertions that some of these employees have been assigned the duties of both the mechanic and operator positions, and that the Agency has made overtime assignments of the work of those positions from an overtime roster of mechanics and operators, do not demonstrate that the Agency has determined that all operators have received the necessary training for them to be equally qualified to other applicants for an assignment to the mechanic position. The proposal would nevertheless apply to all operators without regard to whether, based on past work assignments, they have received the training that is necessary to make them equally qualified to mechanics for an assignment to the mechanic position, or have formerly held mechanic positions and were reassigned by the Agency to operator positions.
It is undisputed that with the required on-the-job training, all operators would be equally qualified to perform the full range of duties of the mechanic positions. The reverse is also true, however. Without such on-the-job training, all operators are not equally qualified as mechanics. Consistent therewith, the Agency has determined that only those employees with the on-the-job training to perform the full range of mechanic duties are qualified for the mechanic positions at issue and has distinguished the affected employees' qualifications, above the minimally qualified level, on the basis of such training. The fact that all operators could be made equally qualified as mechanics does not mean that they are equally qualified. Accordingly, we are persuaded by the record before us that, despite the similarities between mechanics and operators and the parties' pre-1987 practice and their 1987 agreement, not all of the operators who would be affected by the proposal are equally qualified to mechanics for the mechanic position.(10)
Because the proposal would require the Agency to place any operators with requisite seniority in mechanic positions, even if they do not have all of the qualifications required by the Agency for assignment to those positions, we conclude that the proposal would limit management's ability to assign employees with the requisite qualifications, as determined by management, to perform mechanic duties on the various shifts. Consequently, the proposal affects management's right to assign employees under section 7106(a)(2)(A) of the Statute. See Robins Air Force Base, 35 FLRA at 269-72; American Federation of Government Employees, Local 85 and Veterans Administration Medical Center, Leavenworth, Kansas, 30 FLRA 400, 405-06 (1987); Wright-Patterson AFB, 2 FLRA at 613. Because the proposal affects management's right to assign employees within the meaning of section 7106(a)(2)(A), the proposal is outside the duty to bargain unless, as the Union argues, it constitutes an appropriate arrangement within the meaning of section 7106(b)(3) of the Statute.
C. The Proposal Is Not an Appropriate Arrangement Because It Excessively Interferes With Management's Right to Assign Employees
In determining whether a collective bargaining proposal constitutes an appropriate arrangement, the Authority first determines whether the proposal is intended to be an arrangement for employees adversely affected by the exercise of a management right. The purported arrangement must be "tailored" to compensate or benefit employees suffering adverse effects flowing from the exercise of management's rights. E.g., National Treasury Employees Union, Chapter 243 and U.S. Department of Commerce, Patent and Trademark Office, 49 FLRA 176, 184 (1994) (Member Armendariz concurring in part and dissenting in part). If a proposal is intended to be an arrangement, the Authority balances the respective interests of the agency and employees to determine whether the proposed arrangement is appropriate, or whether it is inappropriate because it excessively interferes with management's rights. See National Association of Government Employees, Local R14-87 and Kansas Army National Guard, 21 FLRA 24, 31-33 (1986). See also American Federation of Government Employees, Council of Marine Corps Locals, Council 240 and U.S. Department of the Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, Washington, D.C., 50 FLRA 637, 640-41 (1995).
We will assume, without deciding, that the proposal at issue in this case constitutes an arrangement. In determining whether the proposal excessively interferes with management's right, we note that the proposal affords significant benefits to some employees by permitting them to affect the Agency's decision as to their position assignments.(11) However, these benefits do not outweigh the heavy burden placed on management to assign employees by requiring the Agency to make assignments to the mechanic position without regard to the Agency's determinations concerning employees' qualifications to perform the duties and responsibilities of the mechanic position. The proposal's requirement that employees be assigned to operator and mechanic positions based on seniority is particularly burdensome because it permits no exception where individual operators may not be able to perform the full range of duties of the mechanic position or do not have the specific skills that are needed.
Similar burdens on management's right to assign employees have been held to outweigh equally significant benefits because they precluded the agency from ensuring that employees are capable of performing the required work of the agency. E.g., Charleston Naval Shipyard, 44 FLRA at 690. No basis on which to reach a contrary conclusion is present in this case. Therefore, we find that, consistent with Authority precedent, the proposal excessively interferes with management's right to assign employees under section 7106(a)(2)(A) and, therefore, does not constitute an appropriate arrangement under section 7106(b)(3) of the Statute. Accordingly, we conclude that the proposal is outside the duty to bargain.(12)
The petition for review is dismissed.
Article XIV, Section H of the parties' Local Supplement Agreement provides, in relevant part:
Section H. Heating Unit only.
(1) When the Employer determines it essential to change the number of shifts or to otherwise move employees from one shift to another, the selection of employees to be moved will be based on individual employee preferences and qualifications whenever possible. If movement is required contrary to employee preferences, the selection will be made on the basis of employee's seniority as defined in the Seniority Article. Consideration may be afforded to employees who are participating in off-duty educational and cross-training programs as part of their established career plans, providing equal opportunities are afforded without regard to race, creed, color, national origin, sex or age.
(2) Job qualifications being equal, seniority will govern preference for shift assignments.
. . . . .
(4) A notice will be posted on unit bulletin boards to announce the existence of each position vacancy in the Unit, in order that interested employees may request reassignment to it. Such notice will remain on the bulletin boards for a minimum of ten (10) calendar days and will provide information as to the duty location, shift and rest days.
Dissenting Opinion of Member Wasserman
I would find that the proposal does not impermissibly interfere with management's right to assign employees. Accordingly, I dissent.
A long line of precedent compels the conclusion that management has the right under the Statute to establish the qualifications and skills needed for a position as well as such job-related characteristics as judgment and reliability. E.g., National Federation of Federal Employees, Local 1482 and U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Mapping Agency, Hydrographic/Topographic Center, Louisville Office, Louisville, Kentucky, 45 FLRA 52, 77-78 (1992) (Defense Mapping Agency); Department of Health and Human Services, Social Security Administration, Baltimore, Maryland, 21 FLRA 735, 745 (1986), enforced, 829 F.2d 683, 686 (8th Cir. 1987); American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO and Air Force Logistics Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, 2 FLRA 603, 613 (1980) enforced, 659 F.2d 1140, 1148-49 (D.C. Cir. 1981) cert. denied, 455 U.S. 945 (1982). Contrary to my colleagues, however, I believe that the proposal at issue in this case recognizes the Agency's discretion to determine job-related individual characteristics and, therefore, that it is negotiable. In arriving at this conclusion, I have relied on the following facts, unique to this case, that demonstrate the Agency's determination that both the mechanics and operators are qualified to perform the work of the positions at issue.
First, as evidenced by the Agency's own position descriptions, the skills and abilities required for the position of Boiler Plant Equipment Mechanic, WG-5309-10, and Boiler Plant Operator, WG-5302-10, are identical. Further, one of the "duties and responsibilities" listed in the Operator's Position Description is the requirement that an Operator "... performs minor and major overhauls on HTHW generators ..." and associated equipment. See Union's and Agency's Supplemental Statements, Attachments 1, 2. I note, as does the majority, that OPM sets minimum qualifications for a position and that, in developing descriptions of specific positions, agencies add more specialized requirements for each position. Thus, if an agency wishes to draw distinctions between two positions, it is obligated to professionally craft an accurate position description for each of the positions. Where, as here, an agency has established the same, or similar, skill and knowledge requirements for several positions, the union (in crafting a proposal) and the Authority (in reviewing that proposal) should be able to treat those positions as interchangeable. Reliance on the Agency's argument that the mechanic and operator positions are significantly different is an acknowledgement that the Agency's position descriptions are meaningless. I note that my colleagues acknowledge that "equally qualified" means "relatively equal." See decision above, slip op. at 6-7. In my view, this reflects an understanding that it is impossible to categorize positions--or employees--with absolute precision. No doubt there are individuals classified both as mechanics and as operators who are less qualified than others to perform the work of their positions; nonetheless, I would rely on the Agency's descriptions of those positions for purposes of collective bargaining.
Second, I see no evidence in the record that in making its hiring decisions the Agency distinguishes between the two classifications. Indeed, the Agency has submitted to us no additional criteria that it uses in hiring operators or mechanics. See decision above, slip op. at 8 n.9. I note that both positions are classified as WG-10 and that, therefore, the individuals in both are receiving the same level of pay.
Third, it is undisputed that, prior to 1987, the Agency permitted employees in both positions to bid on all jobs by seniority and that in 1987 the parties agreed that employees in both positions could select permanent assignment to the boiler mechanic positions on the day shift. Thus, the record establishes that the Agency has, in the past, treated the positions as interchangeable and there is nothing in the record demonstrating that job demands have changed since 1987.
Fourth, the Agency continues to treat the positions as interchangeable by assigning operators to mechanics positions during the summer shut-down. See Union's Supplemental Statement at 2, 3; Agency's Supplemental Statement at 2. In addition, I note the Union's uncontroverted assertion that the Agency currently uses one seniority list covering both operators and mechanics when assigning overtime. Union's Supplemental Statement at 2, 3.
Fifth, the Agency admits that, with "on the job training," an operator would be "fully qualified to perform the full range of the duties [of the mechanics position]." Agency's Supplemental Statement at 2. This statement demonstrates the Agency's assessment that operators are capable of performing work normally performed by mechanics. Although this may require some on the job training, the Agency acknowledges that it has "paid for specialized training" for the mechanics, thereby indicating that the position may require some training for incumbents, regardless of classification. I note that a number of operators previously were classified as mechanics and that some operators have already received on the job training. Moreover, the record does not establish how many operators would need additional training in order to perform mechanics' duties. Taking all of these points into account, I do not view this as a case involving a group of employees who have been deemed only minimally qualified for a position and I would distinguish decisions that find proposals nonnegotiable on that basis. E.g., Defense Mapping Agency, 45 FLRA at 77-78.
Finally, I note that Article XIV, Section H(2) of the parties' negotiated Local Supplement, which covers the wage grade employees involved in this case, specifically states that "Job qualifications being equal, seniority will govern preference for shift assignments." In its petition, the Union asserts that its proposal is "in consonance with the seniority and shift policy clauses of the Local Supplement." Petition at 3. Thus, pursuant to the Union's stated intent, management retains the ability to take all qualifications into account in making the actual shift assignments for the positions sought by the employees under the proposed procedure.
In view of all of these factors, I see no impediment to permitting bargaining over the proposal at issue in this case. Because I conclude that the proposal does not impermissibly affect management's rights under section 7106(a)(2)(A) of the Statute, I do not address whether the proposal would be negotiable as an appropriate arrangement under section 7106(b)(3).
(If blank, the decision does not have footnotes.)
1. Member Wasserman's dissenting opinion is set forth at the end of this decision.
2. The relevant portions of the parties' agreement referenced in the proposal are set forth in the Appendix to this decision.
3. The Authority requested that the parties provide additional information in order to assist with the processing of this case. The Agency and the Union submitted supplemental statements, which we have considered.
4. Under Article XIV, Section H(4) of the parties' Local Supplement, an employee "may request reassignment to"--that is, bid for--a "position vacancy in the [u]nit."
5. The Agency does not object to the negotiability of the proposal on the basis that it could result in the mechanics affected by the proposal being selected for operator positions. Consequently, we do not address whether the proposal affects management's rights insofar as it could result in the affected mechanics being selected for operator positions, and whether a proposal that resulted only in the affected mechanics being selected for operator positions would be within the duty to bargain. We also note that the record reflects that the Agency reassigned 3 mechanics to operator positions after downsizing, but that the proposal is not limited only to those employees or others who formerly held mechanic positions and were reassigned by the Agency to operator positions. We express no view on the negotiability of a proposal that would be limited in such a manner.
6. The OPM is responsible for developing and issuing minimum qualification standards, policies and instructions, which Federal executive branch agencies are responsible for applying in individual personnel actions. U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Operating Manual, Qualification Standards for General Schedule Positions, p.II-1 (as revised August 1994; replaces the qualification standards for civil service positions set forth in Civil Service Commission Handbook X-118) (Operating Manual). The OPM also must approve qualification standards for particular positions when OPM qualification standards are not appropriate for filling an agency's positions. Operating Manual at p.II-1. The Authority has not had occasion to determine whether, in the absence of OPM regulation, management's right to assign or select under section 7106(a)(2)(A) or (C), respectively, would include the right to establish the minimum qualifications of a position. However, agencies with personnel authority that is not subject to OPM may determine qualifications and skills needed by positions within that agency. E.g., Veterans Administration, V.A. Medical Center, Muskogee, Oklahoma and American Federation of Government Employees, Local 2250, 20 FLRA 441, 442 n* (1985) (the qualification standards for the position at issue were established by the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs under authority of 38 U.S.C. § 4105).
7. Information provided in OPM minimum qualification standards generally is not sufficiently specific to be used directly in examining for positions or quoted in vacancy announcements. Therefore, agencies are advised by OPM to include in their vacancy announcements the general or specialized experience or education required for their positions. Operating Manual at p.II-1. These specific qualification standards developed by agencies for a position are called "selective factors." The OPM defines "selective factors" as "knowledge, skills, abilities, or special qualifications that are in addition to the minimum qualifications in a qualification standard, but are determined to be essential to perform the duties and responsibilities of a particular position." Id. at p.II-3. Knowledge, skills, and abilities are defined by OPM as "the attributes required to perform a job and are generally demonstrated through qualifying experience, education, or training. Knowledge is a body of information applied directly to the performance of a function. Skill is an observable competence to perform a learned psychomotor act. Ability is competence to perform an observable behavior or a behavior that results in an observable product." Id. at p.II-2.
8. In OEA, the proposal required that seniority be used as the basis for selecting from among equally qualified employees for the position assignment. Such a proposal is within the duty to bargain under section 7106(b)(2) of the Statute, but only if the proposal preserves management's full discretion to determine whether two or more employees are equally qualified for an assignment. See, e.g., American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, Local 3172 and Department of Health and Human Services, Social Security Administration, Sacramento, California, 49 FLRA 845, 847-49 (1994).
9. The record does not establish what criteria, if any, in addition to the minimal qualifications the Agency applies in making initial decisions to hire operators and mechanics.