In the Matter of
DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE
MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE AND
LOCAL 997, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF
GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO
Case No. 95 FSIP 79
ARBITRATOR’S OPINION AND DECISION
Local 997, 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, Maxwell Air Force Base and Gunter Annex, Montgomery, Alabama (Employer). After investigation of the request for assistance, the Panel directed the parties to mediation-arbitration by telephone with the undersigned. Telephone conferences were held with the parties on August 21, 23, and 28, 1995. At the outset, the undersigned engaged in mediation efforts to assist the parties in resolving the three ground rules issues at impasse. With mediation assistance, the parties reached tentative agreement on two issues. This agreement fell through, however, when they were unable to resolve a longstanding dispute over Union office space. At the conclusion of the August 28 telephone conference, the parties provided additional arguments in support of their respective final positions on all three issues as requested by the undersigned.
The Employer is the host activity at the installation; it is responsible for performing personnel, labor relations, security, morale, recreation and welfare, and other support functions for a number of tenant activities under cross-servicing agreements. By far the largest tenant activity is the Air University, which trains and educates military officers of the United States and allied nations. The bargaining unit consists of approximately 1,528 General Schedule and Wage Grade employees who work in various trades and crafts as well as administrative and technical positions. There are bargaining-unit employees working at all base activities. The parties’ 1980 collective-bargaining agreement (CBA) has expired, but they continue to be covered by its terms until a successor is implemented.
The dispute at hand is over ground rules for successor agreement negotiations. As is relevant to this dispute, in October 1994, during the course of ground rules negotiations, the Union requested from the Employer office space and use of the Base Transfer Center (BTC), which was denied. Also, in November 1994, the Employer submitted to the Union a compressed work schedule (CWS) proposal which was subsequently withdrawn.
The parties disagree over the following issues:
1. Whether the successor CBA shall be between the Union and Maxwell AFB and Gunter Annex only, or also tenant activities, e.g., the Air University.
2. The amount of official time to be allowed Union representatives for research and preparation of proposals for the successor agreement negotiations.
3. Whether the parties shall identify and negotiate up to six issues (e.g., Union office space, use of BTC, and CWS) before entering into negotiations over a successor agreement.
POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES AND CONCLUSIONS
The Union argues that all eligible base employees should be covered under the CBA. The Employer, on the other hand, insists that not all employees of base tenants are bound by the current CBA. It cites to Article 1, Sections 1 and 2,(*) of the CBA in support of its position.
This issue revolves around the level of recognition of the unit. In this regard, Article 1, Sections 1 and 2, of the CBA indicate that the level of recognition is Maxwell AFB, the host activity, and not the Air University or other base tenants. I, therefore, find that the duty to bargain is between the host activity and the Union. Accordingly, I shall order the parties to adopt the Employer’s proposal.
The Union proposes 64 hours of official time for its bargaining team for research and preparation of proposals; the Employer proposes 32 hours. During mediation efforts, however, both of them were agreeable to 48 hours as a compromise. In reaching that tentative agreement, the parties discussed criteria for evaluating the issue such as the number of Union bargaining team members, the great amount of time that has lapsed since the current CBA was negotiated, and the importance of commencing these successor contract negotiations expeditiously. Given those discussions, I find that 48 hours is the appropriate amount of time to be allotted Union negotiators to research and prepare proposals for successor agreement negotiations.
Additionally, in relation to this issue, the parties discussed the availability of office space for Union negotiators to research and prepare contract proposals. The Union contends that the location and size of its current office space is not suitable for those purposes. The Employer is willing to provide additional office space for preparation on a temporary basis; it insists that the issue of permanent Union office space is a substantive issue not appropriate for ground rules negotiations. Mediation efforts broke down over this matter which is discussed further below. In the interest of providing expeditious research and preparation of proposals for the successor agreement negotiations, however, I shall order that the Employer provide the Union with temporary office space in addition to what it already has for preparation of contract proposals. The temporary space shall be large enough to accommodate about six persons and have appropriate furnishings.
The final issue is whether the successor agreement should be negotiated by the parties as a whole or by first identifying and negotiating to completion up to six issues (e.g., Union office space) before the entire successor agreement is negotiated.
The Union argues for the latter procedure because it has already taken such a long time to get to negotiating a successor agreement. Further, it insists that the memoranda of understanding on those six issues would be incorporated into a successor agreement. The Employer, on the other hand, argues that the successor agreement should be negotiated as a whole, not "piecemeal."
In considering this issue, I turned to Article XXX, Sections 4 and 6 of the current CBA for guidance. Section 4 provides that the parties may reopen the CBA "for amendment/modification by the mutual consent of both parties at anytime." In the instant case, the Employer does not agree to do so on a limited number of issues as the Union proposes; hence, there is not mutual consent. On the contrary, the Employer wants to deal with the entire CBA. In addition, the language of Section 6.b., regarding supplemental agreements, is clear. It states in pertinent part that "[s]upplements will be limited to changes in applicable laws and regulations from higher authority which could affect bargaining-unit employees." [Emphasis added.] The Employer’s earlier CWS proposal may have fallen under this CBA provision, but it has been withdrawn. As for permanent Union office space, it is not covered under this provision because there has not been a proposed change in applicable law or regulation on the matter. Accordingly, I conclude that in negotiating a successor agreement, the appropriate method is for the parties to make proposals for desired changes or additions to the entire agreement.
1. The bargaining unit for which the Union is the exclusive representative is defined in Article 1, Sections 1 and 2, of the CBA. The successor agreement will be negotiated between the Union and Maxwell AFB and Gunter Annex, which is consistent with the level of recognition in Article 1, Sections 1 and 2, of the current CBA.
2. A block of 48 hours of official time shall be allocated to Union representatives for research and preparation of proposals for successor agreement negotiations. Temporary space for the Union’s exclusive use in researching and preparing proposals for such negotiations shall be provided by the Employer, as described above.
3. The successor agreement will be negotiated as a whole document, as proposed by the Employer.
Bonnie Prouty Castrey
September 8, 1995
Huntington Beach, California
*These contract provisions read as follows:
Section 1. The Employer recognizes the Union as the exclusive bargaining representative of all employees in the Unit defined in Section 2 of this Article.
Section 2. The Unit to which this agreement is applicable is composed of all eligible employees paid from appropriated funds of Maxwell Air Force Base and Gunter Air Force Base who are serviced by Maxwell Air Force Central Civilian Personnel Office excluding management officials, supervisors, professional employees, employees of the Central Civilian Personnel Office, and the A7 Personnel Management School, other than those engaged in a purely clerical capacity.