[ v62 p327 ]
Dissenting opinion of Chairman Cabaniss:
I cannot join my colleagues in the determination that the instant proposal is an appropriate arrangement. To the contrary, I would find that the proposal excessively interferes with the Agency's rights under 7106(a)(1) to determine its internal security practices. As such, the proposal does not constitute an appropriate arrangement and is outside the duty to bargain. Therefore, I dissent.
The Agency policy at issue here is to not permit the overnight storage of firearms at locations that are too insecure to permit such storage. Agency Reply at 2. The record establishes that overnight storage is permitted at approximately ten facilities. Union Response at 11-12. Those are the facilities that the Agency has determined are adequately secure to permit this storage. The Agency has determined that most other locations are not. SOP, at 2, 4-5. It is unnecessary for the Agency to establish that all of the other locations lack the requisite security. The Agency must only demonstrate a "reasonable connection" between the objective of securing or safeguarding its personnel, property, or operations and the policy designed to implement that objective. See NTEU, 61 FLRA 48, 51 (2005). We have no authority to "examine the extent to which the practices adopted by management to achieve its security objectives actually facilitate the accomplishment of those objectives". Id., citing AFSCME, Locals 2910 & 2477, 49 FLRA 834, 839 (1994).
I cannot conclude as does the Majority that the benefits to employees cited by the Union are "significant" and outweigh the Agency's internal security determination to not permit routine overnight storage at those locations that have been determined to not be secure enough for overnight storage. The benefits cited by the Union are for the most part entirely speculative. The Union has not shown that any employee has been held liable or disciplined for a weapon stolen from their home. Employees are free to avail themselves of the Agency's 24-hour carry policy, which effectively eliminates any increase in travel costs. Neither has the Union shown that those employees carrying a firearm are more susceptible to assault compared with those who do not. This argument is counter-intuitive in that an officer carrying a firearm is as likely to deter the very criminal behavior the Union claims may occur if they carry a firearm. Finally, it is not clear how burdened a typical employee's lifestyle is under the Agency's 24-hour carry policy. The Union's proposal may provide some employees with "piece of mind" in not storing a firearm in their home and provide others with the ability to engage in a few more activities on their way to or from work. [n*] In this respect, employees may still engage in most activities without having to go straight from work to home or home to work. One of the few activities from which an employee must refrain while carrying a firearm is consuming alcohol, leaving a firearm unattended, or giving a firearm to another person to hold. See SOP, Attachment 3 at 2. If the employee chooses to pursue these activities, the only burden to the employee is to first secure the firearm in the home. On the other hand, I share the Union's concern that "the risk of harm to employees and their families from firearms" at home is not a risk that should be taken lightly. See NTEU I, 59 FLRA 749, 755 (2004). This risk is, however, minimized when officers fully utilize trigger locks and other safety measures.
Therefore, I cannot conclude that the benefits to employees articulated by the Union outweigh the burden on the Agency's substantial interest in restricting the overnight storage of weapons in facilities that are not secure enough to allow this practice.
The Union notes that the Agency has the discretion to determine the level of security that is required at each location to permit overnight storage. See, e.g., NFFE, Local 2050, 36 FLRA 618, 625-27, 652-53 (1990). However, an agency's right to determine its internal security practices includes the right to determine the threats against which the agency will protect its employees and workplace. Id. at 631. As a result, I conclude that the proposal excessively interferes with the Agency's right under § 7106(a)(1) to determine its internal security practices. Therefore, the proposal does not constitute an appropriate arrangement and is outside the duty to bargain.
File 1: Authority's Decision in 62 FLRA No. 56
File 2: Opinion of Chairman Cabaniss
Footnote # * for 62 FLRA No. 56 - Chairman Cabaniss
While the Agency's memorandum itself discusses the need for employee responsibility in carrying firearms off-duty and the potential for employee liability, if an officer carries the firearm in a manner consistent with the memorandum both risks are mitigated. SOP, Attachment 3. Additionally, the nature of the benefits asserted will vary among employees based upon the employee's own personal interests and circumstance. For example, not all employees will want to work-out on the way home, and not all workout facilities are necessarily more quickly or easily reached than home.