DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY U.S. ARMY ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND SUPPORT ACTIVITY ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, MARYLAND AND LOCAL 2424, INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MACHINISTS AND AEROSPACE WORKERS, AFL-CIO

United States of America

BEFORE THE FEDERAL SERVICE IMPASSES PANEL

 

 

In the Matter of

DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY

U.S. ARMY ABERDEEN PROVING

GROUND SUPPORT ACTIVITY

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, MARYLAND

AND

LOCAL 2424, INTERNATIONAL

ASSOCIATION

OF MACHINISTS AND AEROSPACE WORKERS,

AFL-CIO

Case No. 95 FSIP 168

DECISION AND ORDER

    The Department of the Army, U.S. Army Aberdeen Proving Ground Support Activity, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland (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 Local 2424, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO (Union).

    After investigation of the request for assistance concerning a dispute over the establishment of a mandatory overtime roster for emergency repairs, the Panel directed the parties to participate in an informal conference with Panel Representative (Staff Attorney) Ellen J. Kolansky for the purpose of resolving the outstanding issue. The parties were advised that if no settlement were reached, Mrs. Kolansky would report to the Panel on the status of the dispute, including the parties' final offers and her recommendations for resolving the matter. 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, Mrs. Kolansky met with the parties on December 21, 1995, at the Panel’s offices in Washington, D.C., but the disputed issue was not resolved. She has reported to the Panel on the issue based on the record developed by the parties. The Panel has now considered the entire record.

BACKGROUND

    The Employer operates the Aberdeen Area Maintenance Branch which provides approximately 30 tenant activities with utilities, logistical support, troop issue, overseas processing, and building and housing repair. There are 2,200 buildings, 1,277 housing units, and numerous bachelor officer quarters and barracks at the 119,000 acre facility. The Union represents a consolidated unit of 800 trades and crafts employees and nonprofessional health clinic workers. Approximately 34 employees in the Minor Repair Section of the Directorate of Public Works, who work as plumbers, pipefitters, maintenance mechanics, electricians, carpenters, and locksmiths, will be affected by the outcome of the dispute. The parties’ collective bargaining agreement was recently renegotiated; it is due to expire on November 16, 1997.

ISSUES AT IMPASSE

    The sole issue in dispute concerns whether employees on the proposed roster should be in a pay status during those "nonduty" periods when it is their turn to take emergency calls to return to the worksite.

POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES

1. The Employer's Position

    Under the Employer’s proposal, employees would select roster dates to take turns responding to calls for emergency repairs during nonduty hours;(1) ties for a particular day would be broken by seniority; and holiday roster slots would be filled by a lottery. Employees would be required to leave a telephone number and remain within a reasonable radius of the Aberdeen area so that the return trip could be made within 60 minutes, although brief extensions would be granted. In addition, employees would be permitted to find a substitute, and would be excused from such an assignment "for good reason acceptable to the Employer." Under section 7 of its proposal, if an employee should receive no calls during such a period, no compensation would be provided. When the time actually worked comes just before or just after a scheduled shift, the Employer would grant the employee up to 4 hours of administrative leave for rest. Lastly, for convenience, employees may choose to use "beepers"(2) and cellular telephones, but their use would not be mandatory. In this regard, previous Panel decisions, which considered whether employees required to carry pagers should be in a pay status, are not applicable.

    Generally, each call necessitates that two men work for 4 hours making urgent plumbing repairs. Data from 1994, a year with severe weather conditions which increased the number of emergencies, show that employees were called back 94 times; a total of 757 emergency overtime hours were paid. The proposal is necessary because it currently takes up to 3 hours to find an employee willing to come back to the workplace when an emergency arises. Many employees either do not answer their telephones or are otherwise unavailable when called. Thus, for the 2-year period ending in the summer of 1995, such calls were limited to the five to seven employees who regularly agree to return to the workplace.(3) Their complaints about feeling overworked prompted the development of the roster so that all 34 section employees would share in these assignments. This measure would reduce the burden on any given employee by spreading the obligations among the entire list; each employee would take slightly less than two turns per month and might actually be asked to handle only four emergency repairs per year.

    With respect to the Union’s proposal, there is no legal authority for compensating