Passport Employees Prevail in Work Schedule Negotiability AppealMonday, September 13, 2004
Contact: Randy Erwin (202) 216-4451 (office) (202) 898-1866 (fax)
In a recent ruling from the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Passport Services was ordered to negotiate with employees over compressed work schedules. The ruling ends a 16-month struggle between National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) Local 1998 (a nation-wide Passport local) and Passport Services management officials over the issue.
During the past three years, the Seattle Passport Agency negotiated eight compressed schedules for bargaining unit members. In April 2003, after one manager changed his schedule to a later arrival time for personal reasons, Passport Services proposed to terminate the earliest three compressed schedules on the grounds that not enough supervisors were available to cover the earlier start times. NFFE Local 1998 requested to bargain over the issue, but their proposals were rejected by the agency, that deemed the issue non-negotiable and claimed the issue interfered with management's right to determine internal security practices (July 2003). After the union filed a negotiability appeal with the FLRA (July 2003), the Authority found the union's position to have merit, and ordered Passport to bargain with the union over its proposals (August 2004).
In its decision, the FLRA determined that alternative work schedules for bargaining unit employees are "fully negotiable." The decision also maintained that the Work Schedules Act is "intended to include within the collective bargaining process "the institution, implementation, administration and termination of alternative work schedules.'" Finally, the FLRA concluded Passport's concerns "are more appropriately addressed by the Federal Services Impasses Panel if, after bargaining, the parties reach an impasse in their negotiations."
"I believe this is an important victory for federal employees," said NFFE Local 1998 President Colin Walle. "I am glad that the FLRA saw past management's inappropriate attempt to frame a simple scheduling matter as a security issue. A decision against the union would have meant that management could change or eliminate compressed work schedules virtually anywhere, anytime, for any reason."The FLRA decision can be found at: http://www.flra.gov/decisions/v60/60-034ab.html and http://www.flra.gov/decisions/v60/60-034bb.html.