FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY OALJ 16-16 Office of Administrative Law Judges WASHINGTON, D.C. 20424
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD UNION
Case No. WA-CA-14-0534
When the National Labor Relations Board announced that it would be moving its headquarters to a new building in a different part of the District of Columbia, the National Labor Relations Board Union asked to bargain over the relocation, and the parties ultimately signed a ground rules agreement providing for two days of bargaining. Substantive bargaining did not begin until the second day, at which time the parties discussed most of the forty-one proposals submitted by the Union. During these negotiations, the Agency spokesman stated that the Agency did not have information on, and had not made decisions about, several issues raised in the Union’s proposals, including matters relating to the office furniture to be used at the new headquarters.
In the late afternoon, about an hour before bargaining was scheduled to end, the Agency’s bargaining team submitted twenty-three counterproposals. About two hours later, the Union team submitted five of its own counterproposals, which the Agency rejected. The Union asked to submit its remaining counterproposals the following week, and to resume bargaining thereafter, since it had not had time to prepare a response on all issues. The Agency denied the request, insisting that the ground rules limited bargaining to two days. However, in an attempt to “reach an agreement” or at least “narrow the issues,” the Agency offered to continue bargaining into the night. The Union declined to stay beyond 6:30 p.m., and the Agency declared that negotiations were terminated. A few days later, the Union tried to initiate mediation of the dispute, but the Agency refused to participate. In the weeks and months that followed, the Agency unilaterally made decisions about the design and layout of the new headquarters, including issues such as office furniture and other matters that had been discussed (but not resolved) during bargaining.
The issue before me is whether, by participating in the two days of negotiations called for in the ground rules agreement, the Agency fulfilled its statutory duty to bargain concerning the relocation. The Agency offers two primary justifications for its actions: it argues that the Union waived its right to further bargaining when it agreed to the ground rules, and it further insists that when the second day of bargaining ended, the parties had reached impasse.
Because the ground rules agreement cannot reasonably be interpreted as limiting the parties’ bargaining period to two days, I conclude that the Union did not waive its right to bargain until either an agreement was reached or the parties had come to an impasse. Additionally, the evidence conclusively demonstrates that the parties had not reached impasse. The parties had only begun to discuss the many issues on the table, neither side had submitted a full range of counterproposals, and the Agency inexplicably refused even to attempt mediation. These factors establish that there was a strong potential for further and productive bargaining, if only the Agency had the patience to persist beyond its arbitrary deadline. Therefore, the Agency violated its duty to bargain and deprived the Union of a proper opportunity to negotiate the impact and implementation of the move to a new headquarters.
The Federal Labor Relations Authority has found that the National Labor Relations Board violated the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (the Statute), and has ordered us to post and abide by this notice:
WE HEREBY NOTIFY EMPLOYEES THAT:
WE WILL NOT terminate bargaining over the relocation of our headquarters offices in Washington, D.C., prior to reaching an agreement or prior to reaching an impasse with the National Labor Relations Board Union (the Union).
WE WILL NOT unilaterally change working conditions of employees in the bargaining unit represented by the Union concerning the relocation of the Agency headquarters without notifying the Union and affording it an opportunity to negotiate to the extent required by the Statute.
WE WILL NOT, in any like or related manner, interfere with, restrain, or coerce bargaining unit employees in the exercise of the rights assured them by the Statute.
WE WILL upon request, negotiate in good faith with the Union concerning the relocation of Agency headquarters to the extent required by the Statute, including participating in mediation under the auspices of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, if requested by either party, and if requested and necessary to implement the results of any agreement reached or resolution imposed by the Federal Service Impasses Panel, replace or substitute any features located within the new headquarters building that are subject to bargaining under the Statute.
Date: _________________ By: _______________________________________________ Chairman, National Labor Relations Board (Signature)
Date: _________________ By: ______________________________________________ General Counsel, National Labor Relations Board (Signature)
This Notice must remain posted for sixty (60) consecutive days from the date of posting and must not be altered, defaced, or covered by any other material.
If employees have any questions concerning this Notice or compliance with its provisions, they may communicate directly with the Regional Director, Chicago Region, Federal Labor Relations Authority, whose address is: 224 S. Michigan Ave., Suite 445, Chicago, IL 60604, and whose telephone number is: (312) 886-3465.