U.S. Federal Labor Relations Authority

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United States, Department of the Air Force, Headquarters, 96TH Air Base Wing, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida (Respondent) and American Federation of Government Employees, Local 1897 (Charging Party)

[ v58 p626 ]

58 FLRA No. 159



LOCAL 1897
(Charging Party)




July 11, 2003


Before the Authority: Dale Cabaniss, Chairman, and
Carol Waller Pope and Tony Armendariz, Members [n1] 

I.      Statement of the Case

      This unfair labor practice case is before the Authority on exceptions to the attached decision of the Administrative Law Judge (Judge) filed by the General Counsel (GC). The Respondent filed an opposition to the exceptions.

      The Judge concluded that the Respondent did not violate § 7116(a)(1) and (5) of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (the Statute) when it refused to bargain over the impact and implementation of its addition of a supervisory position, flight-line expediter, in the chain of command of the Air Reserve Technician Civilian Employees. [n2] 

      Upon consideration of the Judge's decision, the GC's exceptions, and the entire record, we adopt the Judge's findings, conclusions and recommended order. Accordingly, the complaint is dismissed.

II.      Order

      The complaint is dismissed.

Concurring Opinion of Chairman Cabaniss:

      I write separately to discuss an issue in our precedent and implementing statute that often causes confusion on the part of all involved. Too often, employer changes to employee "working conditions" give rise to claims that the "conditions of employment" underlying those working conditions have been changed without first having engaged in any necessary bargaining over the matter. Suspending an employee without pay for three days, based upon matters set out in an agency regulation, clearly changes the employee's working conditions: having a duty to bargain because of that change to working conditions, however, would not be created unless the agency regulations underlying the suspension action were changed -- and those changed parts underlie the basis for the suspension action (e.g., where the regulation was changed regarding procedures for requesting leave and the employee was being suspended for not following those new procedures).

      Section 7103(a)(14) of our Statute notes that "conditions of employment" comprise "personnel policies, practices, and matters, . . . affecting working conditions[.]" The two are interrelated, but not the same thing. Conditions of employment clearly affect employee working conditions, for example, by determining how much pay an employee gets, how an employee requests sick leave, and whether a crew chief will have to work only on airplanes assigned to them. As there was no change here to the underlying personnel policy, practice, or matter affecting what work assignments crew chiefs had to do, there was no change to bargain over, even though (as here) the crew chiefs' work assignments (i.e., their "working conditions") had been changed. See, e.g., Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek, Norfolk, Va., 9 FLRA 774 (1982). Conditions of employment affect (change) working conditions, but changing an employee's working conditions doesn't mean conditions of employment have been changed. Parties coming before us would benefit tremendously from better understanding this subtle distinction.

File 1: Authority's Decision in 58 FLRA No. 159
File 2: ALJ's Decision

Footnote # 1 for 58 FLRA No. 159 - Authority's Decision

   The concurring opinion of Chairman Cabaniss is set forth at the end of this decision.

Footnote # 2 for 58 FLRA No. 159 - Authority's Decision

   Allegations related to the furnishing of information in AT-CA-00659 and all of the allegations in AT-CA-00738 were settled before the hearing. See Judge's Decision at 2 n.2. The Judge did not address these allegations further, nor will the Authority here.