Department of the Air Force Onizuka Satellite Control Facility Sunnyvale, California and Local 2090, National Federation Federal Employees

United States of America


In the Matter of

Department of the Air Force

Onizuka Satellite Control Facility

Sunnyvale, California


Local 2090, National Federation

Federal Employees

Case Nos. 92 FSIP 122 and 92 FSIP 139


    Local 2090, National Federation of Federal Employees (Union) in Case No. 92 FSIP 122 and the Department of the Air Force, Onizuka Satellite Control Facility, Sunnyvale, California (Employer) in Case No. 92 FSIP 139 filed requests with the Federal Service Impasses Panel (Panel) to consider a negotiation impasse under 5 U.S.C. S 7119 of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (Statute).

    The Panel determined to consolidate the cases and that the dispute concerning smoking policy should be resolved on the basis of the parties' responses to an Order to Show Cause why the Panel should not mandate the following provision:

(1) Smoking shall be prohibited inside the control room of the power plant and the consolidated open mess; and

(2) The Employer shall designate outdoor smoking areas reasonably accessible to employees which provide a measure of Protection from the elements.

Submissions were made pursuant to these procedures. The Panel has now considered the entire record.


    The Employer is the headquarters for the 2nd Satellite Tracking Group, which operates, maintains, and manages a worldwide satellite tracking station network supporting the Department of Defense, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and allied nations, as well as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's space shuttle program. The Union represents approximately 166 General Schedule (GS) and Wage Grade (WG) employees. The parties are covered by a collective-bargaining agreement which expires in July 1993.

    This dispute arose during bargaining over the Employer's decision to ban smoking in the two remaining designated smoking areas on the base: the control room of the power plant and the consolidated open mess. The Union opposes the change, maintaining that there is adequate ventilation in both.


    The parties disagree over whether smoking should continue to be permitted in the control room of the power plant and the consolidated open mess.


1. The Employer's Position

    The Employer concurs with the wording set forth in the Panel' s Order to Show Cause.

2. The Union's Position

    Essentially, the Union proposes that the Employer continue to permit smoking in the disputed areas: In regard to the power plant, the Union contends that adoption of the Panel's wording would discriminate against smokers stationed there because they are unable to go outside to smoke for security reasons. Furthermore, since power plant employees already have stressful jobs which require them to monitor the electricity, air conditioning, heat, and steam that is supplied to the entire Air Force Base, the elimination of smoking there would add even more stress. Furthermore, a new air conditioning ventilation system which cost approximately $130,000 has been installed in the control room which exceeds Air Force regulations for adequate ventilation. As to the consolidated open mess, it is the only indoor facility available to all employees where smoking is permitted indoors. Minor adjustments to its ventilation system could ensure proper negative pressure, which is essential to exhaust smoke. Finally, a Union survey shows that 30 percent of the bargaining unit members smoke. Therefore, permitting smoking in the last two designated smoking areas would accommodate a significant minority of employees who otherwise might be forced outdoors to smoke in inclement weather.


    Having considered the parties evidence and arguments, we conclude that the dispute over smoking should be resolved on the basis of a modified version of the Panel's wording in its Order to Show Cause. Given that power plant employees are not allowed to leave the premises, we find that some accommodation should be made to allow them to smoke in an indoor designated area. Although the Panel is aware of the dangers of second-hand tobacco smoke, we note that the case before us presents special circumstances involving employees whose jobs are critical to the support of the Employer's mission. Accordingly, these factors mitigate against a total ban on smoking in the workplace. We see no reason to contribute to an already stressful work environment by preventing employees who wish to smoke to refrain from doing so during an entire workday. Therefore, as to the power plant, smoking is to take place in a designated indoor area, which shall be selected based upon the adequacy of ventilation so as to minimize best the exposure of all employees to environmental tobacco smoke. Any disputes over the selection of the indoor designated-smoking area should be resolved through the parties' negotiated grievance procedure.

    As to the consolidated open mess, we find that the Union's position does not take into account the hazardous effects of even small amounts of side stream smoke on all employees. Since there is no evidence that even with adjustments to the ventilation system second-hand smoke would be virtually eliminated, the Panel will order the Parties to adopt the wording in its Order to Show Cause.