International Association of Fire Fighters (Union) and United States, Department of the Navy, Naval Weapons Station Earle, Groton, Connecticut (Agency)

[ v59 p832 ]

59 FLRA No. 152







April 15, 2004


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

I.     Statement of the Case

      This case is before the Authority on a negotiability appeal filed by the Union under § 7105(a)(2)(E) of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (the Statute), and concerns the negotiability of one proposal relating to work shifts of fire inspectors. The Agency filed a statement of position, to which the Union did not respond.

      For the reasons set forth below, we find that the proposal is outside the duty to bargain and we dismiss the petition for review.

II.     Proposal

That the 3 Fire Inspectors be placed on a fixed schedule of six (6) twenty-four (24) hour shifts in each pay period.
The first would work Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday at the Main Side Area. The second would work Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday at the Water Front Area.
The third would work Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, at the Main Side Area, and would be available to fill in at the Waterfront Area as required.

Petition for Review, Attachment 3 at 1. [ v59 p833 ]

III.     Meaning of the Proposal

      The proposal was made in response to the Agency's decision to reduce three fire inspectors' scheduled work hours from alternating 24-hour days (144 hours per pay period) to a fixed schedule, Monday-Friday (with eight 9-hour days and two 24-hour days equaling 120 hours per pay period). The parties agree that the proposal would establish the three fire inspectors' schedules, and would permit the Agency to rotate inspectors from one station to another and to determine which individual inspectors would be assigned which shifts.

IV.     Positions of the Parties

A.     Agency

      The Agency contends that the proposal affects management's right to assign work under § 7106(a)(2)(B) of the Statute because it precludes the Agency from reducing or changing the scheduled work hours of fire inspectors. In this regard, the Agency maintains that the right to determine the duration of work assignments is an aspect of management's right to assign work. See Statement of Position at 3, citing VA, Wash., D.C., 30 FLRA 961 (1988). The Agency also asserts that the proposal affects its right to assign work because it prevents the Agency from assigning work on days other than the specific days and/or hours specified in the proposal. In addition, the Agency contends that the proposal obligates it to assign twenty-four hours of overtime work per fire inspector on weekends and nights when no inspection work is required, thereby significantly increasing Agency costs.

      According to the Agency, the proposal does not constitute a procedure under § 7106(b)(2). The Agency also contends that the proposal does not constitute an appropriate arrangement under § 7106(b)(3) of the Statute because the Union has not identified the specific benefits afforded to employees by requiring the Agency to assign the fire inspectors to specific work days, hours and locations. In addition, the Agency states that the intent of the proposal is to interfere with management's right to determine the number of employees assigned to perform work under § 7106(b)(1) of the Statute, and the Agency has elected not to negotiate on this right. Finally, the Agency asserts that the proposal is contrary to 5 C.F.R. § 610.121(b)(2), which requires an agency head to revise an employee's administrative workweek to comport with the hours during which the employee will actually be required to work when the agency head knows in advance that such revision is necessary.

B.     Union

      The Union did not file a response to the Agency's statement of position. In its petition for review, the Union asserts that VA, Wash., D.C. does not support the Agency's management rights claim because firefighters' hours in that case were reduced primarily for economic reasons. According to the Union, the only reason given by the Agency for reducing work hours here was the Fire Chief's inability to manage the work force. The Union asserts that the schedule set forth in the proposal addresses this issue by guaranteeing at least one fire inspector on duty at both work sites on a continuing basis. See Petition for Review, Attachment 3 at 1. Further, the Union contends that the proposal removes the "adverse impact" on the fire inspectors of a reduction in salary and retirement benefits due to the reduced hours of the Agency's proposed work schedule. Petition for Review, Attachment 4 at 1. In addition, the Union requests a hearing in order for the Authority "to fully understand [the issue], and make an informed judgment[.]" Id.

V.     Preliminary matter

      Under § 2424.31 of the Authority's Regulations, a hearing is appropriate "[w]hen necessary to resolve disputed issues of material fact . . . ." 5 C.F.R. § 2424.31. Here, the parties agree that there are no facts in dispute that affect the negotiability of the proposal. See Record of Post-Petition Conference at 2. Therefore, we deny the Union's request for a hearing.

VI.     Analysis and Conclusions

A.     The proposal affects management's right to assign work under § 7106(a)(2)(B) of the Statute.

      The Authority has held that management's right to assign work under § 7106(a)(2)(B) of the Statute in