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United States of America


In the Matter of








Case No. 96 FSIP 76


    Local 1482, 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 (Statute), 5 U.S.C. § 7119, between it and the Department of the Navy, Marine Corps Logistics Base, (MC)3 Division, Barstow, California.

    After investigation of the request for assistance concerning a dispute over the use of time clocks to record employees’ time and attendance, the Panel determined that the dispute should be resolved through written submissions from the parties. Thereafter, the Panel would issue a Decision and Order to resolve the impasse. Written submissions were made pursuant to this procedure, and the Panel has now considered the entire record.


    The Marine Corps Logistics Base (the base) is responsible for procuring, maintaining, repairing, rebuilding, storing, and distributing supplies and equipment to support the Fleet Marine Force. Specifically, the (MC)3 Division (the division) is one of two rebuilding depots operated by the Marine Corps in the United States. It is an independent tenant organization on the base. As an industrially-funded activity, it receives no appropriated money; its revenue is generated by the fees charged to customers for services rendered. Of the approximately 1,900 people who work on the base, the Union represents 1,500 General Schedule (GS) and Wage Grade (WG) employees. The division employs 1,021 people, approximately 850 of whom are bargaining-unit employees. They occupy a wide variety of administrative and technical positions, and also work in various trades and crafts, in pay grades ranging from GS-3 through -11 and WG-2 through -12. The collective-bargaining agreement (CBA) between the parties will expire in 1998.


    The sole issue in dispute concerns whether the use of time clocks should be terminated for bargaining-unit employees in the division.


1. The Union’s Position

    The Union proposes that "the bargaining-unit employees at the Marine Corps Logistics Base, Barstow, California (MCLBB), (MC)3 Division not be required to punch in at the start of the shift and out at the end of the shift on electronic time clocks like the rest of the base." It cites a Federal Times article to support its position that time clocks promote the feeling that management does not trust employees.(1) In addition, the Government Accounting Office (GAO) issued guidance on this subject on March 22, 1996, suggesting that time cards are no longer needed for most employees.(2) Instead of time clocks, division management should use the "muster" procedure,(3) like the rest of the base. During the last 5 years, nondivision employees and division supervisors have used this procedure; there have been no disciplinary or adverse actions taken against employees for arriving late or leaving early. Moreover, "muster" would provide a uniform procedure for the entire base, thereby improving the morale of division bargaining-unit employees.

    In the alternative, the Union offers an "all or none" proposal, in which the Employer would select which time and attendance procedure to use for the division, as long as supervisors and bargaining-unit employees use the same procedure. The adoption of this alternative directly addresses "what this entire impasse is all about," i.e., "privileged (MC)3 management wants to keep their privileged position of not having to punch in and out on the time clocks."

2. The Employer’s Position

    The Employer proposes that bargaining-unit employees "continue to badge in and out" and that current exemptions "continue to apply." The status quo should be maintained because, in addition to providing records for time and attendance, the time clock procedure also acts as an automated accounting system in determining the labor charges for the division’s customers. Its use of time clocks is not a matter of trust, but simply an industry-wide business practice to provide accurate records for billing purposes. The information that is collected also can be used to locate missing employees in the event of a disaster. With respect to the "muster" procedure, division supervisors’ duties differ from unit employees’, and as a result, a different billing procedure is used. In this regard, while unit employees’ hours are billed directly to the customer as labor charges, supervisors’ hours are billed indirectly as overhead expenses. Furthermore, comparisons between division bargaining-unit employees and nondivision employees are misleading because the division has a different mission from the rest of the base. Eliminating the use of time clocks also would undercut the decision made by the Maintenance Community Executive Steering Committee in 1994 to continue to "badge in and out," when the agency purchased $200,000 worth of automated equipment to improve the time clock procedure at its 2 bases in Barstow and Albany, Georgia. Finally, the Union’s "all or none" proposal is nonnegotiable because it "appears to directly implicate supervisory personnel and determine their working conditions."


    Having carefully considered the evidence and arguments presented by the parties, we conclude that the Employer’s proposal provides the more reasonable resolution of this dispute. In our view, the Union has failed to demonstrate a need to change the current practice, even though the other employees at the base are not required to use time clocks. In this regard, we note that the GAO Manual merely provides nonbinding guidance to agencies; while it recommends the elimination of time clocks, it also encourages the use of automated time-and-attendance systems. The current practice provides such an automated system; one recently improved at considerable expense. More importantly, in the circumstances of this case, time clocks also serve to provide records for billing purposes. Although there is evidence in the record that the Employer’s billing procedures may have some accuracy problems,(4) we are not persuaded that the "muster" procedure would solve them. In fact, it would be even less accurate and more time-consuming because of the administrative burden it would place on supervisors, particularly given the geographical dispersion of the workforce. For these reasons, we shall order the adoption of the Employer’s proposal.


    Pursuant to the authority vested in it by the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute, 5 U.S.C. § 7119, and because of the failure of the parties to resolve their dispute during the course of proceedings instituted under the Panel’s regulations, 5 C.F.R. § 2471.6(a)(2), the Federal Service Impasses Panel under § 2471.11(a) of its regulations hereby orders the following:

    The parties shall adopt the Employer’s proposal.


By direction of the Panel.

Linda A. Lafferty

Executive Director

June 28, 1996

Washington, D.C.


1.“Time Clocks Out,” The Federal Times (April 8, 1996), p. 1.

2.GAO Policy and Procedures Manual for Guidance of Federal Agencies, Title 6 - Pay, Leave and Allowances, Transmittal Sheet No. 6-33 (March 22, 1996).

3.That involves visual observation by supervisors that employees arrive at, and leave from work on time.

4.This refers to an independent study conducted by Coopers and Lybrand, L.L.P. The Employer provided the Union part of an internal report resulting from the study which the Union attached to its rebuttal submission to the Panel.