United States of America
BEFORE THE FEDERAL SERVICE IMPASSES PANEL
In the Matter of
FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE
CHAPTER 207, NATIONAL TREASURY
Case No. 06 FSIP 37
DECISION AND ORDER
Chapter 207, National Treasury Employees Union (Union or NTEU) 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 Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Washington, D.C. (Employer or FDIC).
After investigation of the request for assistance, the Panel determined that the dispute, which concerns how the parties are to define "seniority" for the purpose of establishing priority in office selection, should be resolved through the issuance of an Order to Show Cause. In this regard, the parties were ordered to show cause why the Panel should not impose the following modified version of an outcome previously provided to the parties by a neutral fact-finder on the same issue:
For moves involving Headquarters facilities in Washington, D.C. and facilities in Virginia Square, the employees in each unit shall select their offices by grade. If there are two or more employees with the same grade in a unit, the tie shall be broken by length of time in grade (FDIC/RTC/FHLBB),1/ i.e., the employee with the longest time in grade will choose first and so on.2/
The parties also were advised that, after considering the entire record, the Panel would take whatever action it deems appropriate to resolve the impasse, including the issuance of a binding decision. Pursuant to the Panel’s determination, both parties submitted to the Panel written responses to the Order to Show Cause, including the Union’s different proposal for resolving the issue.3/ The Panel has now considered the entire record.
The Employer’s primary mission is to ensure the safety and soundness of state-chartered banks that are not members of the Federal Reserve System. The Union represents a consolidated bargaining unit consisting of approximately 3,700 professional and non-professional employees; of those, 831 are stationed at the Employer’s Headquarters facilities in Washington, D.C. and Arlington, Virginia. The parties have two collective-bargaining agreements (CBAs) in effect: (1) a master collective-bargaining agreement (MCBA), scheduled to expire in January 2008, that covers most terms and conditions of employment; and (2) a compensation agreement, in effect until December 2009, which addresses pay and other monetary benefits.
The sole issue in dispute concerns the definition of "seniority" for purposes of office selection.
POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES
1. The Union’s Position
The Union proposes that the Panel adopt the following wording instead of the resolution set forth in the Order to Show Cause:
For moves involving Headquarters facilities in Washington, D.C. and facilities in Virginia Square, the employees in each unit shall select their offices by grade. If there are two or more employees with the same grade in a unit, the tie shall be broken by length of time in the unit, i.e., the employee with the longest time in the unit will choose first and so on.
Time in unit should be the tiebreaker for the office selection process because employees should be rewarded for their longevity in the unit served. Using a "time-in-unit" standard results in a "simple and transparent" selection method, given that every employee knows his or her place in the order of selection. There also is no need for the personnel office to generate lists showing how long each employee has been in the unit. In addition, its proposed wording would encourage and reward the retention of institutional knowledge by giving office selection preference to employees who stay in the unit longer. Retaining institutional knowledge is a valuable commodity in a time of declining numbers of staff. Furthermore, the proposal represents the democratic decision of employees who were polled by the Union. In this connection, the Chapter President has submitted an affidavit stating that when the parties applied the wording in the Order to Show Cause to the recent relocation of 500 employees from Washington, D.C., to Virginia Square, Virginia, and two other unrelated relocations, employees expressed dissatisfaction because the order of selection dramatically changed under that procedure, resulting in their movement from desirable to undesirable space. Finally, in a previous case involving the parties and the same issue, a Panel-designated arbitrator imposed a resolution that is similar to the Union’s current proposal.4/
2. The Employer’s Position
The Panel should impose the seniority criteria set forth in its Order to Show Cause; that is, priority in office selection would be determined first by grade, and as a tiebreaker, by an employee’s length of service not only at FDIC, but also including employment at RTC and FHLBB. The provision is consistent with the seniority formula used to determine office selections in 1995, when the RTC ceased to exist and former FDIC employees who had been working at the RTC returned to positions in the FDIC. Moreover, FDIC regional, area, field and territory offices use the same formula, so adopting it for Headquarters employees would give the agency a single consistent definition of seniority for determining office selections. Additionally, since 1992, the workforce has been drastically reduced from 23,000 to its current size of 4,500; as such, the Employer must have a flexible and mobile work force that is cross-trained in several areas, and it has devised the Corporate Employee Program (CEP) to facilitate that end. In order to encourage employees to participate in the CEP, which would provide them with training and experience in multiple corporate functions, office selection seniority should be a "neutral" factor and not a deterrent to employee participation. Finally, using total FDIC/RTC/FHLBB time to determine seniority selection for seating when an office relocates or expands is similar to the "yardstick" the Employer and Union agreed upon in their MCBA for breaking ties concerning decisions for detail assignments and reassignments.
Having carefully evaluated the parties’ positions on this issue, including the affidavits and other documentary evidence submitted, we conclude that the Union has failed to demonstrate why the wording in the Panel’s Order to Show Cause should not be imposed. In our view, adopting this wording would provide the parties with a uniform standard for determining office selection for the bargaining unit nationwide, and we are not persuaded that Headquarters employees should be permitted to use a different approach. Furthermore, the Union’s proposal may tend to reward employees who stay in a work unit the longest and disadvantage those who gain broader experience by moving to other units, an outcome that is not consistent with the Employer’s efforts to cross-train employees and encourage their mobility throughout the FDIC. Accordingly, we shall order the adoption of the wording in our Order to Show Cause to resolve the dispute.
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 under the Panel’s regulations, 5 C.F.R. § 2471.6(a)(2), the Federal Service Impasses Panel, under 5 C.F.R. § 2471.11(a) of its regulations, hereby orders the following:
The parties shall adopt the wording in the Order to Show Cause.
By direction of the Panel.
H. Joseph Schimansky
June 27, 2006
"RTC" refers to the Resolution Trust Corporation; "FHLBB" stands for the Federal Home Loan Bank Board.
Since 1995, the Employer has experienced significant change as a result of the sunset of the RTC, the reassignment of employees from RTC to FDIC, and the subsequent downsizing of the workforce as the banking crises of the late 1980s and early 1990s subsided. Employees have been called upon frequently to relocate to other buildings or other offices within their existing buildings. While the parties have agreed to use a seniority-based system, they have had an ongoing disagreement over how to define "seniority" for purposes of prioritizing employee rights to choose their offices. The wording suggested to the parties in the Order to Show Cause is based on the procedure developed by the fact-finder they employed to help resolve issues relating to the recent relocation of several hundred employees from Washington, D.C. to Virginia Square, Virginia.
The Panel also asserted jurisdiction over a second issue involving information that is to be provided to the Union prior to an office expansion or relocation. During the written submissions process, the parties were able to reach a voluntary resolution of that matter and, therefore, it is no longer before the Panel for consideration.
In Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Headquarters, Washington, D.C. and National Treasury Employees Union, Chapter 207, 99 FSIP 158 (1999), Panel Release No. 427, former Panel Member Marvin Johnson, serving as an arbitrator, determined that the parties should adopt the Union's proposal to use "time-in-unit" as a tiebreaker for office selection until a joint employee survey is conducted and the results obtained. The intended survey was never conducted.