DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY NAVAL SUBMARINE BASE NEW LONDON GROTON, CONNECTICUT and LOCAL R1-100, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES
United States of America
BEFORE THE FED FEDERAL SERVICE IMPASSES PANEL
In the Matter of
DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY
NAVAL SUBMARINE BASE NEW LONDON
LOCAL R1-100, NATIONAL
OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES
Case No. 90 FSIP 153
DECISION AND ORDER
Local R1-100, National Association of Government Employees (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 the Navy, Naval Submarine Base New London, Groton, Connecticut (Employer).
After investigation of the request for assistance, the Panel determined that the impasse should be resolved through an informal conference between Staff Associate Harry E. Jones and the parties. If there were no settlement, Mr. Jones was to notify the Panel of the status of the dispute, including the final offers of the parties and his recommendations for resolving it. Following consideration of this information, the Panel would take whatever action it deemed appropriate to resolve the impasse, including the issuance of a binding decision.
Mr. Jones met with the parties on August 29, 1990, in Groton, Connecticut, but the parties were unable to reach agreement on the outstanding issue. Mr. Jones has reported to the Panel, and it has now considered the entire record.
The Employer serves as home port for several submarines and provides facilities and support services for them and their crews. The bargaining unit consists of approximately 400 employees; it includes skilled trades employees such as mechanics, carpenters, electricians, riggers, and pipefitters, as well as warehousemen, motor vehicle operators, security guards, and clerical/administrative personnel. The parties are covered by a collective-bargaining agreement which is due to expire in April 1992.
ISSUE AT IMPASSE
The instant impasse arose as a result of negotiations over the impact and implementation of a management proposal to assign electronic paging devices to members of the Public Works Department(1) who are "on call"(2) but away from the worksite. The issue is whether such employees should (1) be assigned pagers; and (2) receive premium pay while non-call".
1. The Employer's Position
Members of the Public Works Department who are "on call" should be assigned pagers so that they can be contacted if their services are needed. Under the Employer's proposal, the "Sea Bee" Beet on duty would first attempt to contact the individual by telephone; should this attempt fail, the employee would then be contacted by pager. Its adoption would remedy the problem of management being unable to contact "on-call" employees by telephone. According to the Employer, some employees have used their answering machines to screen telephone calls to avoid being called back to the installation. The use of pagers would allow employees to plan social activities and move about freely while providing the Employer with a reliable way of contacting them. The Employer points out that an employee may be "excused" from returning to the installation if, in management's opinion, circumstances make his or her return impracticable.
The first part of the Union's proposal, that the status quo be maintained, fails to recognize the problems encountered by the Employer in attempting to reach employees telephonically. Moreover, the second part of its proposal, which would require (1) that the Employer designate non-call" employees' homes as their duty stations and (2) that employees be paid premium pay for all call hours, is contrary to existing law and regulation, and, therefore, should not be adopted.(3)
2. The Union's Position
The Union proposes that (l) the status quo be maintained, i . e., "on-call" employees continue to be contacted by telephone: and (2) "on-call" employees' homes be designated as their duty stations 80 they receive premium pay when in an "on-call" status. According to the Union, the Employer has not demonstrated a need to alter the status quo regarding the use of pagers. While there may have been a few instances when "on-call" employees could not be reached by telephone, none of these incidents were treated as serious matters. Moreover, no employee has ever been disciplined for failure to respond to a call, and the Union has not been notified that any problem exists. In sum, contacting employees by telephone is more reasonable because it allows workers to plan social activities without fear that their plans may be disrupted by a paging device.
As to the second part of the Union's proposal, designating employees' homes as their duty station is within the Employer's discretion, in accordance with section 550.143(b)(3) of Title 5 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Once such a designation is made, the Employer then has the option of authorizing premium pay for all hours spent at the duty station.(4) This part of its proposal is reasonable because being "on call" is an infringement on an employee's free time. Therefore, employees should be compensated for the inconvenience.
Having considered the evidence and arguments in this case, we conclude that the impasse should be resolved on the basis of the Employer's proposal. In our view, the Employer has demonstrated, based upon several instances when it was unable to reach "on-call" employees by telephone, that a need exists to alter the status quo. We are convinced that the Employer's proposal provides a reasonable solution to the problem without being overly burdensome to employees. In particular, we note that an "on-call" employee may be excused from returning to the installation if, in management's opinion, circumstances make his or her return impracticable. With respect to that part of the Union's proposal which would provide premium pay for "on-call" employees, there is no evidence in the record to justify such additional compensation. In this regard, an "on-call employee who wears a paging device can move about freely and is not restricted from participating in normal social activities. Thus, payment of premium pay under these circumstances would be unwarranted.
Pursuant to the authority vested in it by section 7119 of the F