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05/25/89 Overseas Education v. Federal Labor

May 25, 1989

OVERSEAS EDUCATION ASSOCIATION, INC., PETITIONER

v.

FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY, RESPONDENT; OVERSEAS EDUCATION ASSOCIATION, INC., PETITIONER

v.

FEDERAL



UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT

LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY, Respondent 1989.CDC.179

On Petitions for Review of Orders of the Federal Labor Relations Authority.

APPELLATE PANEL:

Robinson, Stare and Buckley, Circuit Judges. Concurring opinion by Circuit Judge Buckley, with whom Circuit Judge Starr joins.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE ROBINSON

Invoking the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Act, *fn1 the Overseas Education Association submitted proposals to the Department of Defense Dependents Schools with a view to mitigating the impact of changes by DODDS in the working conditions of teachers and other professionals employed overseas. DODDS refused to negotiate with OEA on the propositions at issue here, and on each of two administrative appeals *fn2 the Federal Labor Relations Authority sustained the agency's position. *fn3 We conclude that the Authority's construction of pertinent provisions of the Act improperly restricted the scope of management's duty to bargain. Accordingly, we reverse the Authority's decisions in the respects challenged, and remand the cases for further proceedings. I. THE BACKGROUND

A. The Statutory Framework

The Act reflects a comprehensive effort by Congress to balance the interest of the Government in efficient operation with the interest of employees in decisions affecting them. *fn4 The Act declares broadly that "[each] employee shall have the right . . . to engage in collective bargaining with respect to conditions of employment through representatives chosen by employees. . . ." *fn5 This right is enlivened by an obligation on agencies and unions alike to meet and bargain in good faith. *fn6

Section 7106(a) of the Act, however, removes from the duty to bargain management functions which Congress deemed essential to effective conduct of agency business. *fn7 Union proposals that would interfere directly with an exercise of rights reserved to management by Section 7106(a) are presumptively nonnegotiable. *fn8 But Section 7106(b) authorizes bargaining over proposals in either of three categories, notwithstanding some intrusion on Section 7106(a) prerogatives. *fn9

Centrally involved in the cases before us are the Section 7106(a) reserved management right to direct work, and assign employees, and the Section 7106(b)(3) sanction of bargaining over proposals of "appropriate arrangements for employees adversely affected by the exercise of any authority under [Section 7106(a)] by . . . management officials." *fn10 By the terms of the Act, tensions between powers asserted by management and union officials are resolved by Authority on negotiability appeals, *fn11 and the Authority's decisions are reviewable by the courts of appeals. *fn12

B. The Facts and Procedure History

DODDS, a unit of the Department of Defense, operates more than 250 schools for dependents of American servicepersons stationed in twenty countries abroad. OEA is the collective bargaining representative of all teachers, counselors and other professionals employed at these schools. *fn13

In 1984, DODDS administrators announced changes in work assignments of overseas personnel. Hiring of substitute teachers would be reduced; whenever possible, full-time teachers, during what otherwise would be their planning and lunch periods, would cover classes of absent teachers. Similarly, hiring of outside help to monitor lunchrooms and playgrounds would be discontinued; full-time teachers and professionals would handle these chores in lieu of planning and lunch. The teaching day would be lengthened by fifteen minutes, another class period would be added, and the semester examination period would be shortened to two days.

OEA advanced a number of proposals designed to minimize the effect -- primarily, loss of planning and lunch breaks -- of these changes upon teachers and professionals. *fn14 DODDS bargained on some of these proposals but declined to do so on others. OEA appealed to the Authority for determinations on whether the rejected proposals were negotiable. *fn15

Later, in 1987, DODDS modified the structure of compensatory education programs at its schools in such ways as to increase the workloads of compensatory education teachers. *fn16 OEA recommended three methods of easing the transition methods of easing the transition to the heavier workloads. DODDS spurned bargaining over one of these proposals, which sought more preparation time for compensatory education teachers handed additional duties. *fn17 OEA solicited the Authority's decision on this refusal as well. *fn18

In separate opinions, the Authority upheld DODDS on the proposals under review. *fn19 By its estimate, OEA's proposals interfered directly with management's reserved right to assign work, and therefore were nonnegotiable unless they fell within one of the categories specified in Section 7106(b). *fn20 OEA contended, however, that its submissions qualified for bargaining under Section 7106(b)(3) as proposals of arrangements appropriate for adversely affected employees. *fn21 It argued that its members were impacted, primarily ...


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