U.S. Federal Labor Relations Authority

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05 FLRA 053: Union Proposal





The Employer agrees to provide, at no cost, a Union office at the duty location of the Union President. The office will be provided with standard office furnishings, a locking filing cabinet, and a conference call capable telephone and FTS line. In addition, the Employer agrees to provide Union Representatives, at each duty station and at no cost, the use of their assigned office for representational duties. The Employer agrees to provide the Union Representatives at each duty station and at no cost, with (1) the use of a fax machine/copier, (2) a mailbox in the mailroom, designated for the Union, (3) a telephone with long distance/FTS/voice mail, (4) a lockable filing cabinet and (5) the use of their assigned personal computer and printer with standard software, programs and capabilities compatible with the Agencies technology and E-mail/Internet, (6) the local and its representatives may use the interoffice mail system for regular representation communications, (7) consistent with postal regulations, the Union will have use of metered mail limited to representational matters, (8) the Employer will provide, to the extent possible, adequate facilities for membership drives at locations that will provide access to unit employees during break and lunch periods and other non-duty hours. As with all other government employees, Union representatives are responsible under the Standards of Conduct and other applicable regulations for ensuring that the above will be used only for official use and authorized purpose and will not be put to uses that would reflect adversely on the Employer.



The NEFSC video conferencing system will be used for employee grievance meetings and arbitration hearings to the maximum extent possible to reduce the need for travel. Telephone communication may be used during Union/Employer grievance discussions.

When travel cannot be avoided, bargaining unit employee grievance meetings will be normally held at the present duty station of the grievant. Unless agreed to, or directed otherwise by competent authority, Employer and Union grievance meetings, arbitration hearings and midterm negotiations will be held at the duty station of the local Union President. The Employer will pay reasonable travel, and per diem costs (in accordance with Federal travel Regulations) associated with these meetings, grievance investigations, bargaining unit representative(s), witnesses and grievant(s). To help minimize costs, a government owned vehicle will be used by bargaining unit employee(s) and their bargaining unit representative(s) when authorized by the Employer to attend grievance meetings, arbitration hearings, and negotiation sessions held away from the respective duty stations.




The obligation to represent the employees of a unit requires that Union representatives have reasonable access to bargaining unit employees and responsible management representatives of US DOC NEFSC.


The Union will provide the Employer, within 15 calendar days of the execution of this agreement (and within 10 calendar days of any subsequent changes), the names and titles of all officers and stewards of the Union.


The Employer agrees to recognize Union Representatives to be designated by the Union. Upon request Union Representatives shall be granted official time to perform representational activities pursuant to the terms and conditions of this Agreement, and Chapter 71 of Title 5 of the U.S. Code. Union Representatives desiring official time for representational functions shall obtain approval from their immediate supervisor prior to leaving their work areas and shall report to their immediate supervisor upon their return. In accordance with the U S Code, such official time does not extend to such activities as solicitation of membership, collection of dues, campaigning for officers, or other matters pertaining to the internal business of the Union.


The Union recognizes its responsibility to ensure that Union representatives do not abuse their authority by unduly absenting themselves from their assigned work areas and that they will make every effort to perform their authorized functions in an expeditious manner.


The Union agrees that prior to conducting representational duties, authorized Union representatives shall first request permission from their supervisor and, if applicable, the supervisor of the employee to be contacted. Permission will normally be granted unless such absence would cause an undue interruption of work of either the representative or the Employer. If the Union official or employee cannot be spared at that time, the supervisor will inform the official of the time that permission may be granted.


There shall be no restraint, interference, coercion, or discrimination against Union representatives because of the performance of their approved official representational duties. A Union representative shall not use official time in his/her position as a Union representative for matters outside the scope authorized by this agreement and will conduct his/her approved business with dispatch. Union representatives may receive, but not solicit, complaints and/or grievances of employees on official or duty time. Agency staff, equipment, or property will be used in conjunction with or as a result of representational function only as provided in this agreement.


In those instances where a Union representative's use of official time does not comply with the provisions of this agreement, the Employer will initially discuss the matter with the Union representative in order to find a satisfactory solution. Questions regarding abuse of official time can be adjudicated through the negotiated grievance process.


Official time recording is a bilateral system set up to meet the OPM requirement that a record of official time used in the performance of representational duties be maintained. Each Union Representative will maintain a hi-weekly account which will show the authorized total time spent on representational duties and the specific purpose for usage in accordance with the format shown in Appendix XYZ. The appropriate supervisor shall indicate approval by initialing on the log for each period of time spent on approved representational duties. The log shall be forwarded to the NMFS NEFSC Director's designee through the local supervisor on a bi-weekly basis no later than the Monday following the end of each pay period. When no official time has been used, the Union Representative need not submit a report.


Union representatives will be authorized a bank of 300 hours of administrative leave annually during the life of this agreement to attend appropriate labor relations training provided that the subject matter of the training is of mutual benefit to the Employer.

Requests will be made in writing to the NEFSC Center Director or designee. Requests will be submitted as far in advance as possible. Requests will include a copy of the agenda or program and a description of the training for which the administrative leave is requested. If representative's request is denied, the Union will be notified in writing as to the reason for the denial. Requests for additional time will be considered on an ad-hoc basis.

Appendix XYZ



Pay Period Beginning                   


Date Time Purpose Representative
Beginning Ending




The purpose of this article is to establish the procedure for the prompt and equitable settlement of grievances. A grievance means any complaint by (a) any bargaining unit employee concerning any matter relating to the employment of the employee; (b) the Union concerning any matter relating to the employment of any bargaining unit employee; or (c) any bargaining unit employee, the Union or the Employer concerning the effect or interpretation or a claim of breach of the collective bargaining agreement, or any claimed violation, misinterpretation or misapplication of any law, rule, or regulation affecting conditions of employment. This procedure will be the exclusive procedure for resolving such complaints except for the following matters, which are specifically excluded from the procedure:
A. Any claimed violation of Sub Chapter III of chapter 73 of 5 USC (relating to prohibited political activities);
B. Retirement, life insurance, or health insurance;
C. A suspension or removal for national security reasons (Section 7532 Title 5 USC);
D. Any examination, certification or appointment;
E. The classification of any position that does not result in the reduction-in-grade or pay of an employee;
F. Non-selection for promotion from a group of properly ranked and certified candidates;
G. Issues outside the bargaining unit. In such cases the Agency grievance procedure will be followed;
H. An action terminating a temporary promotion;
I. The discharge of a probationary employee's or an employee serving a probationary or trial period;
J. Notice of proposed actions, warnings and admonishments and;
K. Any issue where there would be no tangible relief to the grievant provided that this Agreement is not violated.


Employee(s) utilizing the negotiated grievance procedure will have the right to be accompanied, represented and/or advised by the Union. In addition, an employee and/or group of employees have the right to present or process a grievance under this procedure on their own behalf. In such cases, the Union will be afforded the opportunity to be present, on official time, during any and all formal discussions/meetings, between the Employer and the grievant(s) relating to the grievance filed.


All time limits specified in this Article are binding. All grievance decisions will be made as promptly as possible at each level of consideration described herein. However, time limits may be extended by mutual agreement provided that a request for extension is presented prior to the end of the prescribed time limit. In considering an extension, the parties will consider (1) the length of the delay, (2) the existence of circumstances beyond the control of the party, and (3) whether prejudice to the Employer or the Union would result from the extension of the time limits.
Failure to meet the time limits for issuance of a decision will allow the grieving party to proceed to the next step upon written notification. If the employee(s), the Union or the Employer fails to elevate a grievance within the time limits prescribed within this procedure, the grievance will be considered terminated.


If available, evidence and supporting documentation, which is relevant to the resolution of the grievance, will be introduced at each step of the negotiated grievance procedure. For the purpose of this Agreement, evidence includes, but is not limited to, both documented oral and written presentation of facts. Authorized individuals attending grievance meetings will be allowed official time for the duration of such scheduled meetings.


The Employer and the Union recognize and endorse the importance of bringing to light and adjusting grievances promptly. The initiation of a grievance by an employee will not cast any reflection on the employee's standing with the Employer or on their loyalty and desirability to the organization, nor will the grievance be considered as a negative reflection on the Employer or the Union.


Except in the case of disciplinary actions, the Union and the Employer may mutually agree that individual identical grievances will be joined at Step 2 and processed as one grievance procedure. All disputes of grievability or arbitrability will be referred to arbitration as a threshold issue in the related grievance.


In the event either party should declare a grievance not grievable or not arbitrable, the original grievance will be considered amended to include this issue. The Employer and the Union agree to raise any question of grievability or arbitrability of a grievance as soon as possible but o later than the issuance of the written decision in the Step 2 of the grievance procedure. All disputes of grievability or arbitrability will be referred to arbitration as a threshold issue in the related grievance.


The following applies with respect to grievance resolution:
A. The filing party may terminate the processing of a grievance at any time.
B. If all Parties agree to the means of resolving the grievance, they shall state their agreement in writing, signed by all parties. This will constitute the final resolution of the grievance.
C. Either party or the grievant may not raise new issues after the decision is rendered at Step 1 of this procedure.
D. If any employee who has filed a grievance leaves the bargaining unit before a decision is reached on a grievance that is being processed; the grievance is terminated unless this Agreement is violated or the employee can be granted tangible relief.
E. When a decision concerning a disciplinary or adverse action is accepted by a grievant, it will be deemed settled in its entirety, and neither the grievant nor the Union may proceed further with the grievance or appeal. Such settlement shall not be precedent in any future grievance or appeal involving a subsequent disciplinary or adverse action, but such disciplinary or adverse actions can be considered as aggravating factors in penalty selection for future disciplinary or adverse actions.


Employee Grievances:
An employee may present a grievance to the Employer and have it resolved with or without the services of the Union. If presented without Union representation, such grievances may be resolved without Union intervention, provided the resolution is not inconsistent with the terms of this Agreement. The union will be provided with a copy of the final determination.

Step 1

A. The aggrieved employee, designated employee(s), and/or Union representative will present grievances in writing to the first line supervisor or the management official/supervisor who gave rise to the grievance. All grievances must be presented in writing within twenty (20) workdays after receipt of the notice of the action giving rise to the grievance, or the action, occurrence of the incident, or aware of (or should been aware of) the incident giving rise to the grievance. At a minimum, the grievance will contain:
A. The grievant(s) name, duty assignment and telephone number;
B. The specific nature of the grievance, including the identification of ay provisions of the Labor Management Agreement alleged to have been violated, if known, the provisions of any law, rule and/or regulation affecting conditions of employment alleged to be violated;
C. The name, address, and telephone number of the designated representative, if any;
D. The remedial action desired, and;
E. The grievant(s) that are self-represented will sign and date the grievance.
The supervisor receiving such grievance will meet, upon mutual agreement, with the employee and/or representative within ten (10) workdays of receipt of the grievance. The supervisor will render a decision in writing to the employee and the Union within ten (10) workdays after the meeting.

Step 2

When a grievance reaches Step 2, it will be considered formal. A formal grievance must be presented by the employee and/or designated representative to the NEFSC Science and Research Director, (S&RD), or his/her designee with ten (10) workdays after the decision rendered at Step 1 and state the basis for advancing the grievance to Step 2. If a meeting with the S&RD is requested a written decision will be issued within ten (10) workdays of the meeting; otherwise, a written decision will be issued within ten (10) workdays of receipt of the formal grievance. If the grievant/Union is not satisfied with the decision of the NEFEC Science and Research Director or his/her designee, the Union may invoke arbitration in accordance with the Arbitration Article. A copy of the decision will be provided to the Union. If no written decision is issued at Step 2, or the grievance is denied, the Union may invoke arbitration.

Employer and Union Grievances:
When the Employer or the Union decide to file a grievance, it will do so by filing the grievance in writing directly with the other party for resolution within twenty (20) workdays after receipt of the notice giving rise to the grievance, or the occurrence of the incident or aware of (or should have been aware of) the incident giving rise to the grievance (whichever occurs first). The submission of Union grievances will be to the Science and Research Director. The submission of Employer grievances will be to the Union President. At a minimum, the grievance will indicate the specific nature of the grievance and the remedy desired and, where appropriate, the article(s) and section(s) of the agreement involved and any law, rule or regulation violated. The Parties will meet within ten (10) workdays of receipt of the grievance in an attempt to resolve the grievance. If the matter is not resolved at this meeting, a written decision will be issued within ten (10) workdays of the close of the meeting. If the aggrieved party is dissatisfied with the reply or there is no written decision, the aggrieved party may submit the grievance to arbitration.


A grievance, which does not contain the information necessary to reach a decision, or is otherwise unclear, will be returned to the grievant or representative of record with an explanation of the reason(s) for its return within five (5) workdays of its receipt. If such a grievance is reinitiated, it must be done within seven (7) workdays after receipt of the returned grievance, or it will be terminated at that step.




Details and temporary promotions of bargaining unit employees to any position will be made in accordance with the Agency's Merit Assignment Program and this Article.


Bargaining unit employees will receive a memorandum from the Employer documenting details of more than fourteen calendar days, and up to 30 calendar days, duration. Details for more than thirty calendar days will be submitted on an SF-52 to the Human Resources Office for filing in the Employee's official personnel folder. Bargaining unit employees to be detailed will be given as much advance notice, as is practicable, regarding the impending detail. When the Employer determined there is no one best candidate for a detail, and more than one bargaining unit candidate is deemed by the Employer to be equally qualified, seniority will be the factor in making the selection for the detail.


Instances in which the Employer may make temporary promotions include the following: when there is a need for an employee to perform the duties of a higher graded position during the extended absence of the incumbent, and to fill a higher graded position which has become vacant until a permanent appointment is made. The Employer agrees that a qualified employee in the unit, for whom a known temporary assignment in a higher level position is planned for one (1) full pay period or more, shall receive the rate of pay for the position to which temporarily assigned.



The Employer will allow all Bargaining Unit Employees up to three (3) hours of administrative leave per week to voluntarily participate in wellness/fitness activities if their workload permits. Supervisors denying leave for this purpose will document the reasons for denial upon request. Such documentation will be made available to the Bargaining Unit Employee.




The Parties recognize the "NMFS Awards Implementation Plan (Non-Demo Employees only)" attachment to the 3/17/99 A. Rosenberg, NMFS Deputy Administrative Assistant, memo directive as the incentive award implementation plan for the AFGE Local 231 Bargaining Unit Employees.


The Union will have reasonable access to all award recommendations and implementation records of Bargaining Unit Employees. The Union will be given a non voting seat on any NEFSC Council, Committee or meeting that is charged with reviewing or recommending performance awards for Bargaining Unit Employees within the NEFSC.

The Parties encourage all Bargaining Unit Employees to submit recommendations in accordance with the provisions of the Agency suggestion program to reduce the costs of NEFSC operations and result in more efficient Government operations.


Awards shall be processed in accordance with NOAA Administrative Order 202-451

Awards to non full-time Bargaining Unit Employees will be based and granted on the value of the contribution to the Federal Government.



SECTION 1 Participation

When an insufficiency of volunteers requires bargaining unit employees to be assigned to research cruise participation, the following procedure will apply:

A) Management will determine a pool of qualified bargaining unit personnel. Participation will be offered to the most senior employee in the pool, then the next most senior, and so on. The process will continue until the personnel requirement is met.
B) Due consideration will be given to excusing bargaining unit employees for health or personal hardship reasons.

SECTION 2 Training

When the Employer determines that specialized training is necessary for cruise participation, the Employer will pay training and per diem costs associated with that training consistent with law, rule and regulation. In circumstances where the Employer makes such a determination, the Employer will give the employee as much advance notice as possible.

SECTION 3 Dietary requirements

To the extent possible, the Employer will make provisions for cruise participants who have special dietary requirements due to medical, philosophical or religious reasons.

SECTION 4 Berthing

A. The employer will use factors such as age and physical condition in determining berthing assignments for bargaining unit employees.

B. The Employer will request or recommend, to the entity which does have the decision making authority, that:

(a) Bargaining unit employees will not be required to "hot bunk" or sleep on couches.

(b) Bargaining unit employees will not be required to berth in unhealthy or unsanitary accommodations (due to failures of HV AC, plumbing, etc.)

(c) Bargaining unit employees will not be required to sleep on unhealthy or unsanitary mattresses, pillows, and blankets.

(d) Bargaining unit employees will not be required to occupy berths and heads
that have not been cleaned professionally.

SECTION 5 Unsafe/ Unhealthy Conditions

Any report of an unsafe or unhealthy condition should be made to responsible officials. Aboard ship, this responsibility lies with the command of the vessel. Communications of this nature to the command should be through the Chief Scientist or Watch Chief whenever possible.

SECTION 6 Cruise Schedule

The Employer will provide a schedule of proposed cruises three (3) months in advance and staffing requirements to (2) months in advance. Changes to cruise schedules occasionally occur. The Employer will notify cruise participants of such changes to cruises on which they are scheduled to participate.


To the extent practicable, time spent in travel status away from the employee's official duty station will be scheduled by the Employer within the normal working hours. When the Employer determines it is necessary that travel be performed during non-duty hours, the employee will be compensated in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. Overtime worked by bargaining unit employees participating on cruises will be paid in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.

SECTION 8 Medical Clearance

Bargaining unit employees participating on research cruises shall be offered physical examinations and tetanus vaccination at no cost to the employee to insure NOAA medical standards are met.

SECTION 9 Communications

The Employer will request or recommend, to the entity which does have the decision making authority, that private e-mail accounts and reasonable ship-to-shore telephony will be provided for all bargaining unit employees, at no expense to the employee.

SECTION 10 Foul weather gear

If they do not already have their own, bargaining unit employees will be issued new waterproof jackets, overall pants, and boots before a cruise. Bargaining unit employees will be responsible for reasonably maintaining this gear. Replacements will be reissued when necessitated by normal wear and tear.

SECTION 11 Working accommodations

The Employer will request or recommend, to the entity which does have the decision making authority, permission to equip the vessel with Employer provided rubber stress reduction floor mats, chairs and appropriate workstations on deck to reduce muscle fatigue.

SECTION 12 USDOC NEFSC Operational Control

The Employer will be responsible for ensuring that all applicable safety and health laws, rules and regulations are met when bargaining unit employees participate in any research cruises on non-NOAA vessels as per NAO 209-115, "NOAA Employees Aboard non-NOAA Vessels".