DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICE WASHINGTON, D.C. and NATIONAL BORDER PATROL COUNCIL, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO

United States of America

BEFORE THE FEDERAL SERVICE IMPASSES PANEL

 

In the Matter of

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION

SERVICE

WASHINGTON, D.C.

and

NATIONAL BORDER PATROL COUNCIL,

AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT

EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO

Case No. 95 FSIP 86

 

DECISION AND ORDER

       The Department of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Washington, D.C. (Employer), 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 (Statute), 5 U.S.C. § 7119, between it and the National Border Patrol Council, American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO (NBPC or Union).

      After investigation of the request for assistance, the Panel determined that the dispute, which concerns site selection for mid-term negotiations, should be resolved on the basis of a single written submission from each party. Submissions were made in accordance with the Panel’s procedural directive, and it has now considered the entire record.

BACKGROUND

      The Employer’s mission is to secure U.S. borders from, and to apprehend, illegal immigrants. The Union represents about 4,500 employees, approximately 90 percent of whom are border patrol agents. The parties recently entered into a collective-bargaining agreement (CBA) which is due to expire in February 1998. In the instant case, they have reached impasse following negotiations over a set of "generic" ground rules which are to govern mid-term bargaining.

ISSUE

    The sole issue in dispute is the selection of sites for mid-term negotiations.

1. The Union’s Position

    The Union’s proposal is:

The parties agree that the site of negotiations shall be selected in the following manner:

a. The parties will confer and make a good-faith effort to mutually select the site of each negotiation session.

b. Where the parties cannot mutually agree over the site of a negotiation session, they shall rotate in the selection of negotiation sites in the following manner:

1. For every three selections made by the Employer, the Union shall be entitled to make one selection.

c. All negotiation sites shall be in the continental United States and the parties shall meet in Government space unless agreed otherwise.

This proposal is consistent with a provision ordered by the Panel to resolve a prior dispute over the same issue.(1) In the prior case, the Panel rejected the Employer’s arguments that all bargaining sessions be held in Washington, D.C., and noted that neither party should be able to force the other to consistently be the "visiting team." Selection of a site other than Washington may be appropriate on some occasions because of a direct nexus to the negotiations or close proximity to one or more of the Union’s negotiators. Overall, since the logic of the prior arrangement remains sound, adoption of the Union proposal is appropriate.

2. The Employer’s Position

    The Employer proposes the following:

a. The parties will first attempt to reach mutual agreement on the appropriate location for each negotiating session (a session shall be defined as a continuous block of time, normally 1 or 2 weeks, including travel time, devoted to negotiations). The parties agree to confer in good faith for this purpose. Such consultations shall be accomplished expeditiously, normally by telephone.

b. If the parties are unable to agree on the location of negotiations, the Employer shall select the location, which shall normally be at or in close proximity to the Employer’s facilities in the Washington, D.C., area. The Employer may elect to conduct negotiations outside of the Washington, D.C., area based on reasonable considerations such as coordination with other meetings or conferences involving representatives of both sides, the desirability of visiting work sites or test sites to obtain information related to the negotiations, the location of the negotiation team members on both sides, etc. Such other locations, except by mutual agreement, shall be at or in close proximity to Employer facilities within the continental United States.

Conducting talks at the INS Headquarters in Washington "contributes to effective and efficient negotiations" and "facilitates intra-management consultation which can lead to more voluntary agreements between the parties." Since mid-term bargaining usually involves policies developed at the headquarters level, it makes more sense to discuss these matters in Washington with the manage