DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS FEDERAL CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA and LOCAL 1570, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO
United States of America
BEFORE THE FEDERAL SERVICE IMPASSES PANEL
In the Matter of
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS
FEDERAL CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION
LOCAL 1570, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF
GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO
Case No. 90 FSIP 28
DECISION AND ORDER
Local, 1570 American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO (Union), filed a request for assistance with the Federal Service Impasses Panel (Panel) to consider a negotiation impasse under section 7119 of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (Statute) between it and the Department of Justice, Federal Correctional Institution, Tallahassee, Florida (Employer).
After investigation of the request for assistance, the Panel directed the parties to meet informally with Staff Associate Namsoo M. Dunbar for the purpose of assisting them in resolving any outstanding issues. If no settlement were reached, he was to notify the Panel of the status of the dispute, including the parties' final offers and his recommendations for resolving the issues. Following consideration of this information, the Panel would take whatever action it deemed appropriate to resolve the impasse.
During negotiations, the parties reached a tentative agreement; however, it was not ratified by a quorum of the Union membership. On February 7, 1990, Mr. Dunbar met with the parties at the Employer's facility at Tallahassee, Florida. A second tentative agreement was reached during the meeting which also was subject to ratification. Subsequently, it too was not ratified and, therefore, the issue remains unresolved. Thereafter, Mr. Dunbar reported to the Panel, and it has now considered the entire record
The Employer's mission is to incarcerate persons convicted of Federal offenses. There are approximately 215 bargaining-unit employees at the Tallahassee institution. The majority are General Schedule employees holding positions such as correctional officer, counselor, teacher, treatment specialist, and clerical support personnel; there are also Wage Board employees who work as cooks, electricians, welders, and plumbers. All are part of a nationwide consolidated bargaining unit of approximately 10,000 employees covered by a master collective-bargaining agreement between the American Federation of Government Employees' Council of Prison Locals and the Federal Bureau of Prisons which expires on August 31, 1991. At the local level, the parties continue to operate under the terms and conditions of a supplemental agreement which was to expire on September 1, 1989.
The dispute herein arose as a result of negotiations over a new supplemental agreement. The parties were successful in reaching agreement on all provisions contained therein with the exception of the scheduling of annual leave. Although the impasse resulted from a dispute over how the approximately 95 correctional officers should schedule their annual leave, all bargaining-unit employees located at this facility would be covered by the scheduling procedure. Currently, all employees, by departments, schedule their earned and projected annual leave based strictly on their seniority status.(1)
ISSUE AT IMPASSE
The issue concerns the extent to which seniority should control the scheduling of earned and projected annual leave.
1. The Union's Position
The Union proposes that the current longstanding practice or selecting annual leave based strictly on seniority should be maintained. Under this procedure, the senior employee could select all of his or her earned and projected leave for the year, followed by the next most senior employee, in descending order to the junior employee. Normally, leave could not be taken in durations exceeding 2 consecutive weeks.
The Union contends that seniority is gained by all employees in an objective manner; as such, it alone should serve as the basis for determining which employees should have priority in selecting annual leave. Furthermore, the Union asserts that selecting when to use annual leave is one of the few conditions of employment where employees "enjoy a significant degree of control." All employees over time would enjoy enhanced scheduling-of-annual-leave rights by virtue of their increased seniority.
2. The Employer's Position
Under the Employer's proposal, annual leave would be selected in three rounds according to seniority. During the first round of selection, the senior employee could choose any 2 weeks, with the next most senior employee making the next selection. Selections would proceed by seniority in descending order to the junior employee. A second round then would progress starting again with the senior employee in which another 2 weeks of leave could be chosen. A third and final round would be conducted beginning once more with the senior employee in which all remaining leave could be selected. No more than 2 consecutive weeks of leave could be taken except when approved by the Chief Executive Officer.
The proposal pays some deference to an employee's seniority status while limiting the amount of leave which could be scheduled per round to enhance the opportunity for all employees to use annual leave during preferred times of the year. Moreover, because of a shrinking labor market, the Employer currently is experiencing recruitment and retention problems with respect to correctional officers. By law, correctional officers must retire at age 55 because they perform hazardous duties. Consequently, the Employer cannot hire anyone over age 35 due to minimum time-in-service retirement requirements. Typically, employees under 35 have young children with whom they wish to spend their vacations during the times of the year most in demand for using annual leave, e.g., holidays and the summer. Thus, the existing inequities concerning leave could be alleviated by affording less senior correctional officers an opportunity to schedule at least some of their annual leave during these times. Finally, the Employer asserts that its facility is the only correctional institution within the Federal Bureau of Prisons where scheduling annual leave strictly by seniority still exists.
Having considered the entire record, we find that neither party's proposal should serve to resolve the dispute. In this regard, the Union's proposal fails to address the disadvantages to junior employees who, perennially, are