DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE MALMSTROM AFB, MONTANA and LOCAL 2609, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO

United States of America

BEFORE THE FEDERAL SERVICE IMPASSES PANEL

 

In the Matter of

DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE

MALMSTROM AFB, MONTANA

and

LOCAL 2609, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF

GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO

Case No. 92 FSIP 32

DECISION AND ORDER

    Local 2609, 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 the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute, 5 U.S.C. § 7119, between it and the Department of the Air Force, Malmstrom Air Force Base, Malmstrom AFB, Montana (Employer).

    After investigation of the request for assistance, the Panel determined that the dispute over a basewide smoking policy should be resolved on the basis of the parties' responses to an Order to Show Cause why the Panel should not adopt the Employer's proposed no smoking policy, modified to provide for Employer-selected outdoor smoking areas which (1) are reasonably accessible to employees and (2) provide a reasonable amount of protection from the elements. After considering the parties' responses, the Panel would take whatever action it deemed appropriate to resolve the impasse. Submissions were made pursuant to this procedure, and the Panel has now considered the entire record.

BACKGROUND

    The Employer is the largest intercontinental ballistic missile base in the United States. Its mission is to provide support services, including among others, supply, transportation, communication, personnel, medical, commissary, and morale, recreation, and welfare to the 341st Strategic Missile Wing and the 301st Air Refueling Wing, for which it serves as home base. The Union represents approximately 399 General Schedule (GS) and Wage Grade (WG) employees. WG employees hold such jobs as painter, automotive mechanic, boiler plant operator, airfield clearing equipment operator, and power support systems mechanic. Sales store checker, secretary, fireman, contract specialist, and construction inspector are the most common jobs held by GS employees. The parties' collective-bargaining agreement was to expire on November 7, 1991, but remains in effect until a successor is implemented.

    The dispute arose during negotiations over a new master agreement. Since a smoking policy was the only issue remaining at the conclusion of bargaining, the parties severed it so as not to delay implementation of the agreed upon contract provisions. The smoking policy ordered by the Panel will be included as an addendum to the successor agreement.

    A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) executed by the parties on November 12, 1987, sets forth the current smoking policy for buildings where bargaining-unit employees work.(1) Under this MOU, the Employer is required to provide designated indoor smoking areas that: (1) "meet regulatory requirements with regards to adequate ventilation," and (2) have "smoking receptacles" and "adequate heat, lighting, and seating." In addition, the MOU stipulates that employees be: (1) granted smoke breaks in accordance with Air Force Regulation 40-610; (2) allowed to attend smoking cessation classes, once on administrative leave and, thereafter, on annual or sick leave; (3) given 90 days to adjust to the policy; and (4) disciplined in a "gradual and progressive" manner for violations of the policy. The MOU also provides that any disputes over its terms be resolved through the contractual grievance procedure.

    In November 1991, the Union surveyed bargaining-unit employees to determine the number of smokers. Of the 339 employees contacted, 95, or 28.5 percent, reported that they were smokers. The Employer does not dispute the survey results.

ISSUE

Whether the parties have shown cause why the Panel should not order them to adopt the Employer's proposed no smoking policy, modified to provide for Employer-designated outdoor smoking areas which (1) are reasonably accessible to employees and (2) provide a reasonable amount of protection from the elements.

POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES

1. The Union's Position

    The Union proposes to incorporate into the successor agreement the MOU dated November 12, 1987, which sets forth the current smoking policy.(2) In the alternative, it proposes that, at the very least, employees be permitted to smoke indoors during inclement weather. It is appropriate to continue to permit smoking in the current designated indoor areas because the base hospital's Bioenvironmental Engineering Services "surveyed" them and determined that they "safeguard nonsmokers from passive smoke exposure." Also, the absence of grievances over the current policy indicates that it is satisfactory to smokers and nonsmokers alike. Moreover, the Union has been sensitive to problems that have arisen under the current policy and has taken corrective action. For example, it agreed either to move or eliminate 18 out of 20 indoor smoking areas after employees were surveyed at the behest of management.

    The Employer's proposed policy discriminates against bargaining-unit employees because it would allow indoor smoking in areas where they do not work, such as clubs, recreation facilities, and barracks, but would prohibit it where they do. Also, by forcing employees who wish to smoke outdoors during inclement weather, it may jeopardize their health. Finally, the designation of outdoor smoking areas that provide smokers with reasonable protection from the elements, as provided for und