In the Matter of
DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE
SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE
SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, ILLINOIS
LOCAL R7-23, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF
GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES SEIU, AFL-CIO
Case No. 91 FSIP 17
Local R7-23, National Association of Government Employees, SEIU, 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 between it and the Department of the Air Force, Scott Air Force Base, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois (Employer).
After investigation of the request for assistance, the Panel
determined that the impasse should be resolved on the basis of an Order to Show Cause as to why the Panel should not adopt the Employer's proposal to ban smoking in the cafeteria of Building 1600. After considering the parties' responses to its Order to Show Cause, the Panel would take whatever action it deemed appropriate to resolve the impasse. The Union did not submit a response pursuant to these procedures. The Panel has now considered the entire record in this matter.
The Employer is part of the Military Airlift Command whose mission is to MEDIVAC hospital patients to medical facilities throughout the continental United States. The Union represents a bargaining unit consisting of approximately 2,500 employees who occupy such positions as management analyst, finance clerk, supply clerk, computer analyst, and clerk/secretary. The parties' master-labor agreement is in effect until April 1993.
The dispute arose during bargaining stemming from an Employer-initiated change in the smoking policy for the cafeteria in Building 1600. As a result of an interest arbitration award issued on May 24, 1988,1/ employees are permitted to smoke in a designated area in the cafeteria. Also in the same building, is a smokers' lounge available to employees. Potentially, the entire bargaining unit is affected by this dispute since all employees may use this cafeteria.2/
ISSUE AT IMPASSE
Whether the Panel should order the parties to adopt the Employer's proposal to ban smoking in the cafeteria in Building 1600.
POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES
1. The Employer's Position
The Employer maintains that the elimination of the designated-smoking area in the cafeteria furthers the Air Force's goal of providing a smoke-free work environment for employees. In this regard, it would reduce the risks of In Department of the Air Force. Scott Air Force Base. Scott Air Force Base, Illinois and Local R7-23. National Association of Government Employees SEIU AFL-CIO, Case Nos. 87 FSIP 167 and 88 FSIP 44, concerning smoking in several buildings on the base, the Panel directed the parties to submit the issues to a private arbitrator for resolution. Subsequently, the arbitrator determined, among other matters, that smoking should be permitted in the east end of the cafeteria in Building 1600.
/ As part of its Order to Show Cause, the Panel requested that the
parties attempt to determine the number of employees who smoke. The
parties, however, did not submit any information concerning that
exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke which the U.S. Surgeon General and the Environmental Protection Agency have concluded is a legitimate threat to good healthy.3/ Eliminating the hazard of indoor tobacco smoke is the best way to promote employee health since there have been no determinations as to what may constitute a safe level of exposure to the toxins emanating from indoor tobacco smoke. Should the designated-smoking area in the cafeteria be eliminated, employees would still have an indoor-smoking area on the same floor in Building 1600, in a room specifically established as a smoking lounge with a "dedicated ventilation system," which exhausts smoke to the outside. The smoking area in the cafeteria, however, which encompasses approximately one half of the dining room, shares the same ventilation system with the entire lower floor, thereby affecting the health of all employees working there.
Additionally, employees would retain the option of smoking outdoors.
Although the designated-smoking area in the cafeteria was established as a result of an interest arbitration award in 1988, it now should be eliminated because much more has been learned since then about the devastating effects of indoor tobacco smoke on the health of those exposed to it. Finally, the Employer argues that its proposal is consistent with prior decisions of the Panel in which employees were provided with a smoke-free workplace and, when feasible, smokers accommodated. Additionally, the Employer notes that cost-free smoking cessation classes are available at the medical facilities on the base to help employees break the habit and thereby adjust to restrictions on indoor smoking.
2. The Union's Position4/
The Union proposes to maintain the status quo that is, to retain the designated-smoking area in the cafeteria. Essentially, it claims that eliminating the smoking area there3/ The Surgeon General's 1989 Report on Reducing the Health Consequences of Smoking: 25 Years of Progress, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service Centers for Disease Control, (1989); and "Indoor Air Facts (No. 5): Environmental Tobacco Smoke," Environmental Protection Agency, (1989).
4/ Although the Union did not respond to the Panel's Order to Show Cause, its position on the issue is taken from information which it
provided during the Panel's initial investigation into the request
for assistance, prior to asserting jurisdiction. would inconvenience employees since only one indoor designated-smoking area would be left in the building.
Having considered the record in this case, we conclude that the parties' dispute over smoking should be resolved on the basis of the Employer's proposal. We note that since the air in the cafeteria circulates throughout the first floor where the dining facility is located, nonsmokers, particularly those using the cafeteria, as well as employees stationed on the first floor, would continue to be subjected to the hazards of second-hand tobacco smoke should the designated-smoking area in the cafeteria be retained. Although banning smoking in the cafeteria in Building 1600 may be somewhat of an inconvenience for employees, there remain other accommodations for smokers. In this regard, there still exists an indoor-smoking area in the building which presents
much less of a hazard for employees since the ventilation system there allows smoke to exhaust directly to the outside. Moreover, we note that employees are free to smoke outdoors.
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 under 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 direction of the Panel.
Linda A. Lafferty
August 29, 1991