In the Matter of the
Application of the
alleging a representation dispute pursuant to Section 2, Ninth, of the Railway Labor Act, as amended
involving employees of
27 NMB No. 2
(File No. CR-6662)
This decision addresses the application filed by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT or Organization) alleging a representation dispute among AMaintenance Controllers@ (Controllers) of United Parcel Service Company (UPS or Carrier). The IBT is the certified representative of the craft or class of Mechanics and Related Employees on UPS (Case No. R-5952) and the Organization asserts that the Maintenance Controllers are part of the craft or class.
For the reasons set forth below, the Board finds that the employees at issue are already covered by the certification issued to the IBT in R-5952. Therefore, the Board dismisses the IBT=s application.
On May 27, 1999, the IBT filed an application pursuant to 45 U.S.C. ' 152, Ninth, covering AMaintenance Controllers@ of UPS. This matter was assigned NMB File No. CR-6662. The Organization took the position that these individuals are already covered by the IBT=s certification as the representative of UPS=s Mechanics and Related Employees in R-5952.
The Carrier submitted a position statement on June 15, 1999. UPS asserts that the Controllers do not share a work-related community of interest with Mechanics and Related Employees. The Carrier also argues that should the Board find a community of interest it should conduct an election. According to UPS, the IBT told the employees that their authorization cards would only be used to obtain an election. In addition, UPS argued that the IBT=s application should be rejected because it does not include AGateway Workload Coordinators@ (Coordinators), who allegedly share a community of interest with the Controllers.
On June 29, 1999, the IBT responded to the Carrier=s position statement. According to the Organization, the Controllers share a community of interest with Mechanics and Related Employees, but not with the Coordinators. In its response, the IBT also denies misleading the Controllers about the use of authorization cards, and further argues that the Carrier engaged in Ahigh-pressure tactics to coerce the Controllers into withdrawing their . . . cards.@
The Carrier filed a final submission on July 7, 1999, which affirms its original position.
Do Maintenance Controllers on UPS share a work-related community of interest with Mechanics and Related Employees? If so, must the Board conduct an accretion election to determine if the Controllers wish to be represented by the IBT? Do Gateway Coordinators share a community of interest with Controllers?
The IBT asserts that Controllers are functionally integrated with Mechanics because their essential responsibility is aircraft maintenance. In support of its position, the Organization cites several Carrier documents which detail the Controllers= aircraft maintenance responsibilities as well as describe the coordination between the Controllers and maintenance employees. The Organization also cites a number of Board decisions regarding work-related community of interest among the members of the Mechanics and Related craft or class, including Aerovias de Mexico, 20 NMB 584(1993), Pacific Southwest Airlines, 14 NMB 10 (1986), and Eastern Air Lines, Inc., 4 NMB 54 (1965).
Citing Ross Aviation, 22 NMB 89 (1994), the Organization argues that an election is unnecessary where the employees perform functions which render them part of a craft or class already covered by a Board certification.
According to the IBT, Coordinators do not share a work-related community of interest with Controllers, because they are primarily responsible for Abalanc[ing] workloads.@ The Organization asserts that Coordinators have no technical duties, have no contact with Mechanics, and have never worked as Mechanics. Finally, the IBT contends that the Carrier=s Aassertions implicating abuse by the union in obtaining authorization cards . . . is a poor attempt to cast the Organization in a bad light.@
The Carrier contends that Controllers and Coordinators Acoordinate the planning and scheduling of maintenance work@ in contrast to the Mechanics who perform aircraft maintenance. UPS cites its contract with the IBT, excerpts from its AProcedural Manual@ and job descriptions which outline the respective functions of mechanics, controllers, and coordinators. The Carrier also cites United Airlines, Inc., 6 NMB 134 (1977), where the Board described the typical duties of Mechanics and Related Employees, and argues that the Board=s decision Aclearly does not include employees . . . who . . . do not perform any actual maintenance work.@
In the alternative, should the Board find that Controllers and Coordinators are Mechanics and Related Employees, UPS argues that an election should be held. According to UPS, a Board finding that the IBT=s certification in R-5952 covers positions which existed at the time of the election violates Aemployee rights@ under 45 U.S.C. ' 152, Fourth, to Aorganize and bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing.@ The Carrier also argues that failure to conduct an election would violate 45 U.S.C. ' 152, Ninth, which Amandates@ the Board to Ainsure the choice of representatives.@
The Carrier cites Hawaiian Airlines, Inc., 15 NMB 193 (1988); National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak), 13 NMB 412 (1986); and Hawaiian Airlines, Ltd., 5 NMB 244 (1975) in support of its position.
Finally, UPS asserts that without an election organizations may Aobtain authorization cards under false pretenses@ as it is Areasonable for employees to expect . . . they will have the right to express their desire for representation through a secret ballot election.@
FINDINGS OF LAW
Determinations of the issues in this case is governed by the Railway Labor Act (RLA or Act), as amended, 45 U.S.C. '' 151-188. Accordingly, the Board finds as follows:
United Parcel Service Company is a common carrier by air as defined in 45 U.S.C. ' 181.
The IBT is a labor organization and/or representative as provided by 45 U.S.C. ' 152, Ninth.
45 U.S.C. ' 152, Fourth, gives employees subject to its provisions Athe right to organize and bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing. The majority of any craft or class of employees shall have the right to determine who shall be the representative of the craft or class for purposes of this chapter.@
45 U.S.C. ' 152, Ninth, provides that the Board has the duty to investigate representation disputes and shall designate who may participate as eligible voters in the event an election is required.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
Article 22, Section 1.d of the collective bargaining agreement between UPS and the IBT describes the functions of mechanics on the Carrier, in part, as follows:
The work of a mechanic shall include, but not be limited to, the following: performing skilled work in connection with Company line maintenance . . . . Also included is troubleshooting, checking, repairing, replacing, testing, installing, servicing, welding of a general nature, aircraft taxiing/repositioning . . . engine run-up, line repair of cargo loading mechanical systems, engine driven gear box replacement normally and routinely performed by line maintenance . . . .
The Controllers report to the AMC System Coordinator.
The Controller job description in UPS= Aircraft Maintenance Control (AMC) Procedures Manual, states in part, as follows:
Maintain a current FAA Airframe & Powerplant certificate. Retain a minimum of six-(6) year=s heavy aircraft experience. Be familiar with all phases of Transport Category Aircraft Maintenance, have an understanding of computer systems. . . .
Coordinates, monitors and maintains line operational aircraft per UPS policies so that they will be in operational readiness to meet current scheduled flights. Coordinates this activity with Flight Operations, UPS Aircraft Maintenance Departments, Technical Services, Engineering, Quality Assurance, Materials and Contingency . . . .
The duties of the position include:
Monitors aircraft maintenance operations and provides technical assistance coordination and other services as required.
Administers coordination between . . . Line/Hangar Maintenance, Extended Gateway Line Maintenance, and the Aircraft Materials Distribution Center.
Monitors and determines deferred maintenance items that need to be addressed to minimize operational impact . . . .
Advises Aircraft Scheduling Personnel of aircraft performance limitations that affect aircraft routing requirements. Also advise the Gateway Workload Coordinator of aircraft problems that can be corrected at designated gateways.
Coordinates and implements emergency maintenance work to cover unforseen maintenance problems at non-maintenance gateways.
The job description for the Gateway Workload Coordinator provides, that Coordinators, like Controllers, must maintain an A&P license. In addition, Controllers also are required to Abe familiar with . . . Transport Category Aircraft Maintenance@ and understand computer systems. Coordinators report to the AMC Shift Manager. Specific duties of the job include:
Balances, monitors and maintains workloads against all operational line aircraft for all gateways in the UPS system . . . .
Take requests for deferrals . . . . Alerts and balances these against Line Maintenance Planning workloads.
Assign all workloads via a WAN (work assignment notification).
Monitor all deferrals dropping dead within 72 hours and assist the Maintenance Controller in developing plans for these deferrals.
Monitor out of service aircraft and tail swaps, issue and move workloads accordingly to ascertain all are within the daily gateway guarantee labor hours and capabilities.
[I]ssue the WAN for emergency engineering orders when Line Maintenance Planners are unavailable.
Build and monitor the . . . check line as directed by the AMC Shift Manager or System Coordinator.
Coordinate between and work with all groups in AMC.
The Carrier submitted an affidavit from Mark Swearingin, AMC Division Manager. According to Swearingin, since 1988, when UPS recognized the IBT as the representative of Line Mechanics and Utility employees, Controllers and Coordinators have been excluded from the agreement. Swearingin has provided UPS=s organizational charts which show that there is no common supervision between Controllers and Coordinators on the one hand, and Mechanics on the other, until the District Manager level.
Swearingin states that both Controllers and Coordinators Ahave authority to approve the deferral of maintenance work . . . [and] constantly communicate and coordinate their activities. . . .@ Swearingin admits that Controllers and Coordinators communicate with Mechanics, but asserts that it is by telephone, and there is Alittle direct physical contact.@
Other factors which Swearingin states distinguish Controllers from Mechanics include:
Attached to Swearingin=s affidavit is a letter and petition signed by Controllers. According to Swearingin, the documents Awere provided to me by one of the Controllers in my department. It was represented to me that a majority of the Controllers signed the petition.@ The letter, which is unsigned, is addressed to the IBT and states that Aa majority of the . . . Controllers . . . do not wish to be accreted . . . .@ The petition, signed by approximately eleven of the twenty-five Controllers (allegedly a majority of those who signed authorization cards), states that:
[W]e were coerced into signing authorization cards by false and/or misleading information provided to us by [IBT] . . . to wit: that, by signing authorization cards, we were merely providing . . . the requisite showing of interest . . . for a representation election. At no time was it disclosed . . . that [IBT] intended to use our . . . cards for the purpose of accreti[on] . . . without the opportunity to vote . . . .
The IBT has submitted a declaration from Jack Chatburn, Secretary-Treasurer for IBT Local 2727 for UPS=s Mechanics.
Attached to Chatburn=s declaration are copies of two UPS maintenance manuals, the General Maintenance Manual (GMM), the Category 2/3 Manual, and the Procedures For Out of Service/Return to Service.
The GMM provides that the Manager of AASC/MMOC monitors, coordinates and controls aircraft maintenance operations . . . and provides a single source management contact for current mechanical status of UPS aircraft.@ This individual manages the Controllers.
The Category 2/3 Manual outlines certain Controller maintenance responsibilities. An AAMC Update@ issued May 1999, states that the Controllers Acontinue to be the source for technical assistance and have taken over the responsibility of determining deferrals that need to be worked on their respective fleet types.@ The newsletter also states that the Coordinators Aare the balancing act, responsible for assigning obtainable workloads to the gateways on a daily basis. They are tasked with assuring that the labor hours are not exceeded . . . .@
The Procedures for Out of Service/Return to Service (dated October 8, 1998), provide that the AController will have the final authority to determine aircraft serviceability . . . and final Out-of-Service (OOS) determination.@ In excersizing this responsibility, the Controller obtains certain information from maintenance personnel, such as Atrouble-shooting/repair plan@ and AParts/Tooling requirements.@
The AMC Procedures Manual, dated May 19, 1999, describes the AMaintenance Act >Q= item@ as Aa means by which the . . . Controller can schedule and track specific maintenance tasks. These tasks may include follow-up checks to verify previous corrective actions . . . [and] work steps considered necessary . . . to achieve fleet reliability.@ Among the steps outlined are that the AController will assist maintenance personnel in the accomplishment of the . . . >Q= item.@ The Coordinator Awill schedule the Q-item . . . and inform the . . . Controller.@
Chatburn states in his declaration:
Maintenance Controllers were in no way coerced or misled into signing authorization cards. In response to procedural questions, I informed the . . . Controllers that I was answering to the best of my ability based on the NMB Representation Manual. Furthermore, I have been informed that the petition attached . . . to the Affidavit of Mark Swearingin was created only after UPS representatives misled the Controllers about maintaining a separate classification and other collective bargaining obligations.
In determining the appropriate craft or class on a particular carrier, the Board examines a number of factors. These factors include functional integration, work classifications, terms and conditions of employment, and work-related community of interest. Continental Airlines, Inc./Continental Express, Inc., 26 NMB 143 (1999); USAir, 15 NMB 369 (1988); British Airways, Inc., 10 NMB 174 (1983). The factor of work-related community of interest is particularly important. Continental, supra; United Airlines, 10 NMB 458 (1983); Airborne Express, 9 NMB 115 (1981).
In United Airlines, 6 NMB 134, 135 (1977), the Board outlined the functions of Mechanics and Related Employees, in part, as follows:
A. Mechanics who perform maintenance work on aircraft, engine, or accessory equipment.
B. Ground service personnel who perform work generally described as follows: Washing and cleaning airplane, engine and accessory parts in overhaul shops, fueling of aircraft and ground equipment . . . cleaning and maintaining the interior and exterior of aircraft, servicing and control of cabin service equipment, air conditioning of aircraft . . . .
C. Plant maintenance personnel . . . .
In subsequent decisions, the Board has included classifications other than mechanics in the craft or class, as in Pacific Southwest Airlines, 14 NMB 10 (1986)(Flight Simulator Technicians); US Air, 8 NMB 524 (1981); Allegheny Airlines, Inc., 6 NMB 583 (1978). (Technical Specialists).
In three recent decisions the Board found that individuals who perform functions similar to those performed by UPS=s Controllers are part of the craft or class of Mechanics and Related Employees. Mesaba Airlines, 26 NMB 227 (1999); US Airways 26 NMB 359 (1999), and Allegheny Airlines, Inc., 26 NMB 487 (1999). See also Aerovias de Mexico, 20 NMB 584 (1993).
The Board finds in this case that UPS Maintenance Controllers perform functions traditionally performed by members of the craft or class of Mechanics and Related Employees. The Controllers at issue are responsible for monitoring aircraft maintenance, and of necessity work with Mechanics and other maintenance personnel to perform that function. In contrast, while the Coordinators interact with the Controllers, the former are responsible for workload planning, which is not a maintenance function. Accordingly, the Board finds that Coordinators do not share a community of interest with the Mechanics and Related Employees.
In Ross Aviation, supra, the Board re-affirmed its policy against fragmenting crafts or classes. American Airlines, Inc., 21 NMB 60 (1993); Eastern Air Lines, Inc., 12 NMB 29 (1984); Galveston Wharves, 4 NMB 200 (1962). The Board found in Ross that the creation Aof a separate craft or class of Aircraft Inspectors . . . would be contrary to established precedent regarding the composition of the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class and would cause fragmentation and instability.@ Therefore, the Board dismissed the Organization=s application, stating that an election was unnecessary because the employees at issue were already covered by Board certification.
Since then, the Board has consistently followed this policy when it finds that particular job functions are traditionally performed by members of a certified craft or class. Mesaba, supra; United Airlines, Inc., 25 NMB 365 (1998); United Parcel Service, 25 NMB 326 (1998); Long Island Rail Road, 24 NMB 664 (1997).
The Carrier cites several decisions which pre-date Ross in support of its position that the Board should conduct an election. However, as the Board recently stated in Allegheny Airlines, 26 NMB 487, 496 (1999), Ato conduct an election in these circumstances would contravene the Board=s policy regarding fragmentation of crafts or classes.@
The Board makes this finding having fully considered the evidence and arguments submitted regarding the circumstances under which the IBT collected authorization cards. Since the Board does not base its accretion determinations upon showing of interest, but rather upon whether there is a work-related community of interest, the method allegedly used to obtain the cards is irrelevant.
The broad discretion of the Board concerning the manner in which it conducts investigations in representation disputes was upheld conclusively in Railway Clerks v. Association for the Benefit of Non-Contract Employees, 380 U.S. 650, 662 (1965). The Court held that, in determining choice of employee representative, the Railway Labor Act Aleaves the details to the broad discretion of the Board with the only caveat that it >insure= freedom from carrier interference.@ Id. at 669.
In this regard, the Board is concerned by the fact that a Carrier official apparently had access to confidential and protected information. However, since the Board has determined that the Controllers are already covered by IBT=s certification, it is not necessary to investigate whether the Carrier=s actions constituted interference.
UPS=s Maintenance Controllers share a work-related community of interest with the craft or class of Mechanics and Related Employees. Therefore, these individuals are covered by the IBT=s certification in Case No. R-5952. File No. CR-6662 is converted to Case No. R-6705 and the application is dismissed.
By direction of the NATIONAL MEDIATION BOARD.
Stephen E. Crable
Chief of Staff
Tony Coleman, Esq.
Mr. Ray Benning
Roland Wilder, Esq.
Susan Boyle, Esq.