United States of America
BEFORE THE FEDERAL SERVICE IMPASSES
In the Matter of
GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION
COUNCIL OF GSA LOCALS, NATIONAL
Case No. 02 FSIP 94
The General Services Administration (GSA), Washington, D.C., (Employer) filed a request for assistance with the Federal Service Impasses Panel (Panel) to consider a negotiation impasse under the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (Statute), 5 U.S.C. § 7119, between it and the Council of GSA Locals, National Federation of Federal Employees, Federal District 1, IAM & AW, AFL-CIO (Union).
Following investigation of the parties request for assistance in this case, which arose from negotiations over a new performance awards program, the Panel determined that the dispute should be resolved through an informal conference with Member John G. Cruz. The parties were advised that if no settlement was reached, Member Cruz would report to the Panel on the status of the dispute, including the parties final offers and his recommendation for resolving the impasse.(1)
The parties were also advised that after considering this information, the Panel would take whatever action it deemed appropriate to resolve the impasse, which could include the issuance of a binding decision.
Pursuant to this procedural determination, Member Cruz met with the parties on September 10, 2002, at the Panels office in Washington, D.C. At the close of the proceeding, the parties remained at impasse over a number of issues pertaining to the awards program, and were permitted to submit final offers, initial statements, and rebuttals in support of their positions.(2) Member Cruz has reported to the Panel, and it has now considered the entire record.(3)
The mission of the GSA
is to assist Federal agencies to better serve the public by offering, at best
value, superior work places, expert solutions, and acquisition services. The
component of GSA involved in this dispute is the Federal Supply Service (FSS).
FSSs mission is to provide leadership, through guiding principles and
operating programs, which assures the Federal Governments requirements
for personal property and administrative services are efficiently met at the
least cost to the taxpayer. The Union represents approximately 660 FSS
employees who are part of a nationwide consolidated bargaining unit of about
3,100. They occupy positions as specialists in the following areas: contracts,
transportation, property, marketing, procurement, property disposal, and
budget, at grades GS-3 through -14. The parties national collective
bargaining agreement (CBA) expired in August 2000; negotiations over a
successor CBA are in progress.
ISSUES AT IMPASSE
The parties disagree over the following issues: (1) how and to whom the total awards pool should be allocated by the Employer; (2) whether the portion of the pool to be designated by the Employer for performance-based awards should be distributed to unit employees equally (i.e., regardless of grade), or as equal percentages of salary; (3) whether the awards pool should be increased by the Employer if overall GSA revenue increases;(4) (4) whether the Employer should guarantee that awards pool funding be available if all work groups meet or exceed their performance goals; and (5) whether the awards program should be negotiable annually at the request of either party.
1. The Employers Position
With respect to how the awards pool should be divided, the Employer proposes that 60 percent be allocated for performance-based awards, and 40 percent be available for use under existing GSA awards programs, such as the "Fast Track Awards System." Concerning the performance-based aspect of their dispute, the Employer proposes that this portion of the awards pool be divided into three categories, i.e., 70 percent for achieving targets, 10 percent for exceeding targets, and 20 percent for overall FSS performance. Awards for the first two categories would be distributed as equal percentages of salary, and as equal dollar amounts for the last category. In addition, the Employer opposes the Unions proposals that their awards program agreement contain wording guaranteeing that funding would be available if all work groups meet or exceed their performance goals, and that the awards program be renegotiated annually.
Its proposed awards program should be adopted because, unlike the Unions plan, it is based on sound business and compensation practices. In this regard, FSS managers developed the awards framework after "working with the Logistics Management Institute and an expert in the field of employee compensation." It is based on "documented studies on how to compensate and award employees effectively." In addition, adoption of the plan would ensure consistency throughout FSS. In this regard, approximately 75 percent of FSS is already operating under this awards plan.
Adoption of the
Unions plan, by contrast, would mean "substantially disparate treatment
for employees in the Central Office, Mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes Regions"
where employees are represented by more than one union. Furthermore, the
Unions proposal to increase the awards pool if FSS revenue exceeds the
budgeted amount for the FY by 5 percent or more
2. The Unions Position
In the matters that remain at impasse, the Union essentially proposes that management allocate 80 percent of the awards pool for performance-based awards, and 20 percent for use under existing GSA awards programs. Performance-based awards would "be given to all FSS associates equally, regardless of grade." If overall revenue exceeds the budgeted amount for the FY year by 5 percent or more, bonuses would "be increased by an additional amount proportional to that increase." Management would be required to guarantee that money is available to fund the awards program if "all FSS work groups meet or exceed their performance goals," and the award program would be subject to negotiations every year.
The Union argues that fairness can be achieved by allotting 80 percent of the awards pool for the more structured, performance-based awards, and 20 percent for discretionary awards, and that for the awards program to have any credibility, the Employer should guarantee that money will be available for awards distribution. Finally, annual negotiations would ensure that necessary changes to the program are addressed in a timely manner.
considered the evidence and arguments presented by the parties, we conclude
that the Employers final offer would provide the more reasonable
resolution of their impasse. Among other things, we are persuaded that the
Employers proposed awards program was carefully conceived based on
previously-tested business practices and, when implemented, should provide
appropriate incentives to enhance employee performance. Nor is the position of
the Union supported by sufficient evidence that the intended result of
motivating improvements in performance would be achieved, particularly its
insistence that all employees be granted equal award amounts, regardless of
experience or grade level. In our view, the new awards plan the Employer
proposes merits testing to determine whether the incentives it provides result
in demonstrable increases in productivity. Accordingly, we shall order the
adoption of the Employers final offer.
Pursuant to the authority vested in it by the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute, 5 U.S.C. § 7119, and because of the failure of the parties to resolve their dispute during the course of proceedings instituted pursuant to the Panel's regulations, 5 C.F.R. § 2471.6(a)(2), the Federal Service Impasses Panel, under § 2471.11(a) of its regulations, hereby orders the following:
The parties shall adopt the Employers final offer.
By direction of the Panel.
H. Joseph Schimansky
November 8, 2002
1. During the informal conference, both parties submitted documents in support of their particular awards plans. These documents, as well as other documents of the parties that were timely and properly filed, were included as part of the record and were considered by Member Cruz in fashioning his recommendation to the Panel.
2. With Member Cruz assistance during the informal conference, the parties were able to resolve issues concerning the type of awards information that the Employer will provide the Union, employee eligibility for the awards program, and details of an initial face-to-face meeting for the parties to discuss aspects of the awards program. In addition, the parties final offers were identical as to the percentage of total salaries to be allocated for FY 2002, how the awards pool will be calculated for FY 2003, and the sliding scale to be applied if targets are met under the performance-based portion of the program.
3. On September 30, 2002, the Employer requested that the Panel disregard the Unions supporting statement because it did not serve a copy to the Employer on September 18, 2002, as instructed by Member Cruz, and failed to follow 5 C.F.R. § 2471.5(b)(2) of the Panels regulations requiring a party to serve the opposing party with a copy of any document sent to the Panel, thus depriving the Employer of any opportunity to review the Unions statement and to respond thereto. After carefully reviewing the circumstances attending the Unions failure to serve the Employer, the Panel granted the Employers request. Accordingly, the Unions documents titled GSA Council of Locals, Best and Final Offer, [FSS], Performance Awards System and Rebuttal of Agencys Final Position, were not considered by the Panel in rendering its decision nor are they to be considered part of the record. For these reasons, the Panel only considered, as the Unions final offer, the document it presented to Member Cruz and the Employer as its final and best offer at the informal conference on September 10.
4. The Employer maintained that this is a matter over which the Employer had no duty to bargain. The decision by the Panel renders that question moot.