DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE GRISSOM AIR FORCE BASE GRISSOM AFB, INDIANA and LOCAL 3254, 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

GRISSOM AIR FORCE BASE

GRISSOM AFB, INDIANA

and

LOCAL 3254, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF

GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO

Case No. 93 FSIP 154

DECISION AND ORDER

    Local 3254, American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO (Union) and Department of the Air Force, Grissom Air Force Base, Grissom AFB, Indiana (Employer) filed a joint request for assistance with the Federal Service Impasses Panel (Panel) to consider a negotiation impasse under the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (Statute), 5 U.S.C. § 7119.

    After investigation of the request for assistance, the Panel directed the parties to participate in a telephone conference with Staff Associate Gladys M. Hernandez for the purpose of resolving the dispute over groundrules for successor agreement negotiations. The parties were advised that if no settlement were reached, Ms. Hernandez would report to the Panel on the status of the dispute, including the parties' final offers, and her recommendations for resolving the impasse. After considering this information, the Panel would take whatever action it deemed appropriate to resolve the impasse, including the issuance of a binding decision.

    Ms. Hernandez held a telephone conference with the parties on September 29, 1993. With her assistance, the parties resolved five of the seven outstanding issues. She has reported to the Panel on the two remaining issues based on the record developed by the parties. The Panel has now considered the entire record.

BACKGROUND

    The base is home to the 305th Air Refueling Wing, the host activity, whose mission is to "train and maintain a combat support force readily capable of projecting global air power," and two tenant activities, the 434th Reserve Refueling Wing and the 930th Reserve Operational Group.(1) The Union represents approximately 656 General Schedule and Wage Grade employees working for the host and tenant activities in a variety of positions. Pursuant to its terms, the parties' 3-year collective-bargaining agreement (CBA) was automatically rolled over every year from August 1983, when its original term expired, until 1992, when the Union requested to negotiate over a successor; it will remain in effect until a successor agreement is implemented.

ISSUES AT IMPASSE

    The parties disagree over (1) the length of negotiations and (2) the format of the initial proposals.

POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES

1. Length of Negotiations(2)

    a. The Employer's Position

    The Employer proposes that, before requesting the assistance of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), the parties negotiate for 4 weeks, break for 2, and resume for 4 more, for a total of 8 weeks of face-to-face negotiations, which may be extended by mutual agreement. This schedule evidences the "win-win" approach to contract negotiations espoused by the Vice President in his recent National Performance Review report. In this regard, during the first 4 weeks at the bargaining table, the parties would "discuss, explain, and answer questions" concerning their proposals looking toward "clarify[ing] the major issues requiring further negotiations and [reaching] agree[ment] on the neutral areas." The 2-week break would allow the parties to draft counterproposals consistent with the earlier discussions for negotiations during the last 4 weeks. A shorter period of time at the table than proposed by the Union is necessary because its intended bargaining representatives are already strapped for time given their involvement in realignment-related matters. Moreover, the existing CBA is not "totally out of date," as the Union argues. It has been "kept up to date with many [negotiated] changes." Also, the parties have already negotiated and agreed upon two contract articles -- alternative work schedules (AWS) and performance evaluation standards (PES). Finally, the Union's statement that the successor will be the "'mother-of-all contracts'," and that the Employer should "anticipate lengthy articles" shows that the Union, unlike the Employer, has adopted "a time consuming, archaic, [and] 'win-lose' approach to [successor] negotiations."

    b. The Union's Position

    The Union proposes that the parties meet for 12 weeks of negotiations, and an additional 3 if mutually agreed upon, before requesting the assistance of the FMCS. This proposal, although not what the Union had "originally envisioned as necessary," is what the Panel's representative recommended in settlement of the issue, and "within the realm of reasonableness." It can live with 12 weeks for negotiating a successor to a 13-year old CBA with 50 or so articles, 5 or 6 of which are major ones. This would amount to almost the same total number of hours that the parties recently spent negotiating over the AWS and PES articles. Finally, it is unnecessary to mandate a negotiation break since (1) the groundrules already "inherently provide[] for mutual[ly] agreeable breaks in negotiations," and (2) the Union has a history of accommodating the Employer's requests for breaks because of "holidays, TDYs, inspections, and conflicts with pressing priority issues."

CONCLUSIONS

    Having evaluated the arguments presented, we conclude that the parties should adopt the Union'