DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS FEDERAL CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION SAFFORD, ARIZONA and LOCAL 2313, 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

SAFFORD, ARIZONA

and

LOCAL 2313, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF

GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO

Case No. 90 FSIP 172

DECISION AND ORDER

Local 2313, 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 Bureau of Prisons, Federal Correctional Institution, Safford, Arizona (Employer).

After investigation of the request for assistance, the Panel determined that the impasse should be resolved through written submissions from the parties, with the Panel to take whatever action it deemed appropriate to resolve the impasse. Written submissions were made pursuant to these procedures and the Panel has considered the entire record.

BACKGROUND

The Employer's mission is to incarcerate persons convicted of Federal offenses. The Union represents approximately 110 employees who hold positions such as correctional officer, case worker, teacher and secretary; there are also Wage Board employees who work as cooks, electricians, welders, and air-conditioning repairmen. All are part of a nationwide consolidated bargaining unit of approximately 10,000 employees covered by a master collective-bargaining agreement between the Council of Prison Locals, American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons which is due to expire on August 31. 1991.

The instant impasse arose as a result of negotiations over a new supplemental agreement covering local issues. A tentative agreement was reached on all issues except for the scheduling of annual leave. There is currently no uniform method in effect; however, the practice in most departments within the institution has been to schedule such leave strictly on the basis of seniority.

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 seniority(1) should be the governing factor and that the scheduling of leave ought to proceed in "rounds." Under the Union's proposed procedure, management would establish a seniority list and determine how many employees could be off at any given time. The leave calendar would then be rotated through the seniority list beginning with the most senior employee. Employees would be permitted to schedule leave as follows: (1) employees earning either 6 or 8 hours of annual leave per pay period would be permitted to schedule up to 4 weeks of annual leave; and (2) those earning 4 hours per pay period would be permitted to schedule up to 3 weeks of annual leave. After completion of this initial round, the procedure would be repeated allowing employees to schedule any remaining leave.

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 earn enhanced scheduling-of-annual-leave rights by virtue of their increased seniority.

2. The Employer's Position

The Employer proposes that annual leave requests be divided into summer and winter leave brackets. Each employee would choose a primary leave bracket with the other bracket becoming his or her secondary one. The annual leave calendar would be rotated through the seniority list and employees would be scheduled for up to 4 weeks of primary leave according to seniority. With all primary leave requests scheduled, secondary leave would be scheduled in accordance with the same procedure. Any employee entitled to a fifth week of leave would be permitted to schedule it after all other leave requests.

The proposal pays some deference to an employee's seniority status while providing those less senior an opportunity to schedule annual leave during desirable seasons. 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 years old have young children with whom they wish to spend their vacations during the times of the year most in demand for using annual leave, i.e., holidays and the summer. Thus, the existing inequities could be alleviated by affording less senior correctional officers an opportunity to schedule at least some of their annual leave during these times.

CONCLUSION

Having considered the evidence and arguments, we conclude that this dispute should be resolved on the basis of the Employer's proposal. In our view, the Union's proposal fails to address the disadvantages to junior employees who, perennially, are preempted by their seniors from taking annual leave during the preferred times of the year. The Employer's proposal, on the other hand, recognizes the seniority status of longer term employees while providing less senior employees an opportunity to schedule some annual leave during the most desirable periods. Moreover, this proposal should help address the problems faced by the Employer in recruiting and retaining younger employees; Under this proposal, senior employees would still have the opportunity to schedule annual leave during desirable leave periods; however, some slots during these leave periods would be available to junior employees.

ORDER

Pursuant to the authority vested in it by section 7119 of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute and because of the failure of the parties to resolve their dispute during the course of proceedings instituted pursuant to section 2471.6(a)(2) of the Panel's regulations, the Federal Service Impasses Panel under section 2471.11(a) of its regulations hereby orders the following:

The parties shall adopt the Employer's proposal.

By dir