DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY HEADQUARTERS, ARMY TRAINING CENTER AND FORT JACKSON FORT JACKSON, SOUTH CAROLINA AND LOCAL 1214, NATIONAL FEDERATION OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES

United States of America

BEFORE THE FEDERAL SERVICE IMPASSES PANEL

In the Matter of

DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY

HEADQUARTERS, ARMY TRAINING CENTER

AND FORT JACKSON

FORT JACKSON, SOUTH CAROLINA

AND

LOCAL 1214, NATIONAL FEDERATION OF

FEDERAL EMPLOYEES

Case No. 93 FSIP 197

 

DECISION AND ORDER

    Local 1214, National Federation of Federal Employees (Union) and the Department of the Army, Headquarters, Army Training Center and Fort Jackson, Fort Jackson, South Carolina (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 an informal conference with Panel Member John R. Van de Water for the purpose of resolving the outstanding issues arising from negotiations for a successor collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The parties were advised that if no settlement were reached, Member Van de Water would notify the Panel of the status of the dispute, including the final offers of the parties and his recommendations for resolving the issues. Following consideration of this information, the Panel would take whatever action it deemed appropriate to resolve the impasse, including the issuance of a binding decision.

    Accordingly, Mr. Van de Water met with the parties on September 23 and 24, 1993, at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. During the informal conference, the parties were able to resolve all but one issue in dispute. He has reported to the Panel, and it has now considered the entire record.

BACKGROUND

    The Employer provides initial entry and advanced individual military training. The Union represents 986 bargaining-unit employees who work in a wide range of positions at the Headquarters and in a number of tenant activities located at Fort Jackson. The parties' CBA originally expired on May 12, 1991, and has been rolled over each year since then. It will remain in effect until current negotiations for the successor are complete.

ISSUE AT IMPASSE

    The parties disagree about the amount of official time to be granted to the Union president, officers, and stewards.

POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES

1. The Employer's Position

    The Employer proposes: (1) a weekly cap of 20 hours of official time for the Union president, 6 hours for the chief steward, 3 hours for other officers and stewards, and reasonable and necessary time for the Union treasurer to complete required Department of Labor reports and audits, (2) deletion of a previously tentatively agreed to list of activities excepted from the official time cap, and (3) an administrative procedure for use when Union representatives are denied official time. It believes that the more limited amount of official time is justified because the bargaining unit's size decreased by one-sixth during the last 7 years. Furthermore, this trend will continue since a reduction in force (RIF) is currently under way and more are expected within the next 2 years. Finally, the Union has an established steward system that permits it to spread representational duties among a number of designated bargaining-unit employees.

2. The Union's Position

    The Union proposes that "utilization of official time by its officers and stewards will not exceed that which is determined to be reasonable and necessary." Its president has been granted 100 percent official time for the last 7 years; such experience establishes that this amount is reasonable and necessary for the president. Although the number of bargaining-unit employees is somewhat smaller now, ongoing and planned RIFs, reorganizations, and workload demands spread among fewer employees, all related to downsizing, warrant maintaining the status quo. Comparisons with the 50-percent official time granted to another local union president at Fort Jackson are misleading because that local represents only one-third of the number of employees represented by Local 1214.

CONCLUSIONS

    Having considered the evidence and arguments presented by the parties, we conclude that they should adopt a modified version of the Employer's proposal to resolve the dispute. The terms to be adopted include the weekly limits on official time proposed by the Employer. In addition to such amounts, however, we believe that Union representatives also should be granted official time for a number of other listed activities and meetings.(1) The list includes negotiations for which official time is statutorily authorized, and committee meetings convened at management's request, and, therefore, under its control. In our view, 20 hours of official time per week for the Union president and lesser amounts for the other Union officials should be sufficient for a bargaining unit of this size, particularly when augmented by the additional time for the listed activities. Regarding disputes that may arise over denials of official time, the Employer's proposed procedure appears reasonable, and should provide a mechanism for their informal resolution; if they do not resolve the problem, however, the parties' negotiated grievance procedure still would remain an option. In reaching these conclusions, we are persuaded that the Union's proposal is deficient because it might lead to needless controversy over whether official time requests are "reasonable and necessary."