In the Matter of the
alleging a representation dispute
pursuant to Section 2, Ninth,
involving employees of
28 NMB No. 17
This decision addresses the application filed by the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO (IAM or Organization), alleging a representation dispute among "Quality Assurance Consultants" (QACs), employees of US Airways. IAM is the certified representative of the craft or class of Mechanics and Related Employees on US Airways (NMB Case No. R-4593)and the Organization asserts that "Quality Assurance Consultants" are part of that craft or class.
For the reasons set forth below, the Board finds that the QACs are already covered by its certification issued to the IAM in R-4593.(1) Therefore, the Board dismisses the application.
On August 23, 2000, the IAM filed an application pursuant to 45 U.S.C. § 152, Ninth, covering "Quality Assurance Consultants" of US Airways. This matter was assigned NMB File No. CR-6695. The Organization takes the position that these individuals are covered by the IAM's certification as the representative of US Airways' Mechanics and Related Employees.
On September 7, 2000, US Airways submitted a position statement asserting that QACs are management officials or the alter egos of management officials. In the alternative, the Carrier asserts that QACs do not perform functions traditionally performed by the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class and do not share a work related community of interest with this craft or class.
Are "QACs" management officials or the alter egos of management officials within the meaning of the Railway Labor Act (RLA)? If QACs are not management officials, are they part of the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class?
The Carrier argues that QACs are management officials with a high degree of independence and responsibility for safety. The Carrier states that QACs have the authority to discipline IAM represented mechanics. At a minimum, US Airways argues, QACs should be considered alter egos of management officials because they function as "the eyes and ears of management with regard to enforcement of US Airways' and the FAA's maintenance policies." In support of this argument, the Carrier asserts that QACs conduct surveillance and investigations of other maintenance division employees; have the authority and responsibility to discipline employees; receive management compensation and benefits; exercise a high degree of independent judgement; represent the Carrier in dealings with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other companies; and hold management positions in US Airways' management structure.
Alternatively, the Carrier maintains that accretion is inappropriate because QACs do not perform the traditional job functions of Mechanics and Related Employees. The Carrier also states that QACs do not share any "job-related community of interest" with Mechanics and Related Employees. The Carrier argues there is "a conflict of interest between the two groups because Quality Assurance Consultants must investigate, conduct surveillance of and evaluate the performance of US Airways' mechanics."
In support of its arguments, the Carrier submitted a declaration from Basil J. Barimo, Director of Maintenance Quality Assurance, a Career Opportunity Bulletin for the QAC position, and a QAC position description.
The IAM argues that QACs share a work-related community of interest with mechanics and representation of QACs does not create a conflict of interest. QACs, the IAM contends, are neither management officials nor the alter egos of management. QACs have no authority or responsibility to investigate or discipline employees. QACs evaluate compliance with policies and procedures, receive their assignments from management, and report findings to management. QACs do not bind the Carrier in dealings with the FAA and other companies because their conduct is controlled by Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) or Carrier policies and procedures.
The IAM further states that QACs do not hold management positions in US Airways' organizational structure and are not alter egos of management officials "privy to sensitive, confidential information, but rather pass on to management the facts they have found in the course of carrying out their duties." The fact that QACs receive management compensation and benefits is not dispositive according to the IAM.
The IAM submitted declarations from three QACs.
FINDING OF LAW
Determination of the issues in this case is governed by the Railway Labor Act, as amended, 45 U.S.C. §§ 151-188. Accordingly, the Board finds as follows:
US Airways is a common carrier by air as defined in 45 U.S.C. § 181.
The IAM 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 "the right to organize and bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing." The majority of the 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
QACs were formerly Quality Assurance Auditors on US Airways. According to the job description, a QAC:
1. Investigates, as assigned, items identified during daily operational performance reviews with a focus on regulatory requirements.
2. Performs scheduled audits, routine surveillance and process evaluations, as assigned, at US Airways maintenance facilities, outside repair agencies and contractors, to assess compliance with FAR's and company policies and procedures. Assess[es] the adequacy and effectiveness of the systems and practices being used and provide[s] fact based observations and recommendations that will ensure compliance and effectiveness.
3. Coordinates the investigation and response to reported, or discovered, matters of non-conformance or non-compliance including FAA Letters of Investigation, Self-Disclosures, hotline calls and internal non-conformance reporting.
4. Conducts and facilitate[s] internal maintenance division process evaluations to determine the efficiency of systems, policies, procedures and practices to meet division goals and objectives.
5. Maintains the appropriate level of protocol with respect to audit/surveillance activities that ensures the personnel having responsibility over the area audited are properly briefed.
6. Prepares, disseminates and maintains reports of all audit/surveillance findings to appropriate members of management and affected parties.
7. Conducts follow up activities to ensure timely and appropriate responses and proper tracking and closure of any open items.
8. Participates in, and represents Quality Assurance interests to various boards, committees and working groups.
9. Develops organizational awareness, functional knowledge of various automated systems and an understanding of working documents and manuals relevant to the maintenance division.
10. Develops and maintain[s] knowledge of current and pending regulations, which affect area of responsibility and ensure maintenance division activities maintain compliance with applicable regulatory requirements.
11. Utilizes available resources to continually increase levels of technical expertise, practical experience and appropriate certifications. Also strives to improve communication skills, time management, and other personal qualities to maximum effectiveness and efficiency in performing assigned duties.
12. Performs any additional duties and responsibilities as assigned in order to achieve department and company objectives.
13. Supports US Airways Affirmative Action Program in order to ensure that decisions within your area of responsibility are free from consideration on the basis of sex, color, race, age, religion or national origin.
The job description lists QAC functions as follows:
1. Performs scheduled and unscheduled audits and surveillance of all US Airways Maintenance Operations, facilities, and outside maintenance related support agencies.
2. Conducts process evaluations of Maintenance Division policies, procedures and practices.
3. Coordinates investigations and responses into matters related to non-conformance or non-compliance.
4. Participates in various committees, boards and working groups as unbiased and objective source of information providing a focus on process evaluation and continuous improvement.
The Career Opportunity Bulletin for the QAC position lists the minimum qualifications as:
High School Diploma or equivalent. Three years hands-on Aircraft Maintenance experience or three years specialized experience in a related aviation field. Two years experience handling multiple simultaneous assignments with minimal supervision and in coordinating activities with various levels of management. Proficient in using multiple automated aircraft maintenance technical forecasting, tracking, routing, reporting databases. . . . Demonstrated proficiency with PC applications. . . . Demonstrated experience in project management with strong follow-up/follow through skills and attention to detail. Strong written, verbal, presentation and interpersonal skills. Must be willing to work irregular schedule, travel domestically and internationally and remain in position for one year.
The Preferred Qualifications for the position include:
Associate or Bachelors degree in related aviation field. Hold current A&P license or previous repairman's certificate. ASQ and/or C.A.S.E. certification. Three (3) years supervisory/managerial experience in aviation maintenance.
The declarations of three QACs state that they do not have the authority to discipline. There is no evidence that QACs can authorize or grant overtime, transfer and/or establish assignments, create carrier policy, or commit carrier funds.
The Carrier employs ten QACs and two Senior QACs (collectively QACs). QACs are a Grade 16 with a salary of $2,565 monthly minimum. QACs are compensated and receive benefits under the US Airways' Management Salary plan. QACs report to the Manager of Quality Assurance, who reports to the Director of Maintenance Quality Assurance, who reports to the Senior Vice President of Maintenance who reports to US Airways' CEO.
I. Management Officials
Section 5.312 of the Board's Representation Manual provides:
If an individual is determined to be a management official, the individual is ineligible. The Investigator shall consider, in the investigation, whether the involved individual has the authority to discharge and/or discipline employees or to effectively recommend the same; the extent of supervisory authority; the ability to authorize and grant overtime; the authority to transfer and/or establish assignments; the authority to create carrier policy; the authority and the extent to which carrier funds may be committed; whether the authority exercised is circumscribed by operating and policy manuals; the placement of the individual in the organizational hierarchy of the carrier; and any other relevant factors regarding the individual's duties and responsibilities.
When the Board applies these criteria, the Board considers various individual elements and factors which might not be decisive if considered separately, but considered cumulatively, would remove a particular position from the status of an employee or subordinate official. Pan American World Airways, Inc., 5 NMB 112, 115 (1973). See also USAir, Inc., 24 NMB 38 (1996); Comair, Inc., 22 NMB 175 (1995); American International Airways, Inc., d/b/a Connie Kalitta Services, 20 NMB 94 (1992); Challenge Air Cargo, 17 NMB 501 (1990); USAir, 17 NMB 117 (1990); Tower Air, Inc., 16 NMB 338 (1989).
The Board applied these standards in American Airlines, Inc., 24 NMB 521 (1997), and determined that American's Maintenance Supervisors were management officials. In that case, the Board found that Maintenance Supervisors directed and assigned work, and had the authority to discipline employees which they regularly exercised. Maintenance Supervisors evaluated Crew Chiefs, played a key role in disciplinary investigations, and could grant or deny grievances. In addition Maintenance Supervisors "effectively recommended hiring decisions," authorized overtime, and participated in the budget process.
In contrast, in US Airways, 26 NMB 359 (1999), the Board found that MOC Supervisors were not management officials. The Board considered that MOC Supervisors report to Managers of Maintenance Control, as well as to Duty Managers, and that there were two levels of management within the Maintenance Department above those Managers. Moreover, the Board found that MOC Supervisors' exercise of judgement was based upon technical expertise and not "the same kind of judgement which the Board finds is typically exercised by management officials." MOC Supervisors did not hire, fire, or discipline employees. The Board found that MOC Supervisors did not commit Carrier funds nor bind the Carrier in dealings with outside parties.
The Board finds that US Airways' QACs are not management officials. Their level of authority does not rise to the level of authority exercised by the Maintenance Supervisors in American, 24 NMB 521 (1997). There is no evidence that QAC's have the authority to discharge and/or discipline employees or to effectively recommend the same. The authority exercised by QACs is circumscribed by FARs or the Carrier's policy or procedure manuals. The fact that the QACs receive "management-like" benefits is insufficient to transform QACs into management officials. QACs placement in the management hierarchy does not indicate that QACS are management officials. There are three levels of management above QACs in the Maintenance Department.
II. Alter Egos of Management Officials
The Board has held that where the duties of certain individuals are "so substantially intertwined with the significant managerial responsibilities of those [management] officials that they are effectively the managers' alter ego . . . said individuals are not eligible to participate. . . ." China Airlines, Ltd., 6 NMB 434, 440 (1978). There is insufficient evidence that QACs are so "substantially intertwined" with the responsibilities of management officials in the Maintenance Division. Access to information related to the surveillance and audit of maintenance records and facilities is not the type of confidential information discussed in China Airlines. Access or knowledge of non-public or sensitive information is insufficient to render QACs the alter ego of management officials.
III. Work Related Community of Interest
Aircraft Inspectors are traditionally in the craft or class of Mechanics or Related Employees. Eastern Air Lines, Inc./United Air Lines, Inc./Seaboard World Airlines, 4 NMB 54 (1965). See also United Air Lines, Inc., 5 NMB 65 (1968); United Airlines, Inc., 22 NMB 12 (1994); Ross Aviation, Inc., 22 NMB 89 (1994).
In Ross, Aircraft Inspectors conducted "inspections of aircraft . . . to insure all equipment is maintained and operated in compliance with Company maintenance manuals and all Government regulations. [C]onduct[ed] follow-up inspections to insure that any discrepancy or deviation from established maintenance procedures are prevented." Id. at 91-92.
The work in Ross, is similar to the QACs who "perform scheduled and unscheduled audits and surveillance of all US Airways' Maintenance Operations, facilities, and outside maintenance related support agencies. . . . Coordinate investigations and responses into matters related to non-conformance or non-compliance."
The Carrier argues that QACs do not perform functions traditionally performed by Mechanics and Related Employees. The Board finds that the functions performed by QACs on US Airways are similar to the functions performed by Aircraft Inspectors on other carriers. Eastern Air Lines, Inc./United Air Lines, Inc./Seaboard World Airlines, Inc., 4 NMB 54 (1965); United Air Lines, Inc., 5 NMB 65 (1968); United Airlines, Inc., 6 NMB 134 (1977); Ross Aviation, Inc. 22 NMB 89 (1994). QACs conduct surveillance and investigations of maintenance operations, "evaluate internal and external maintenance operations," and are required to have three years of hands-on Aircraft Maintenance experience or three years of specialized experience in a related aviation field. Therefore, QACs share a work-related community of interest with Mechanics and Related Employees.
IV. Conflict of Interest
The Carrier states there is a conflict of interest between QACs and the Mechanics and Related craft or class. As stated above, QACs do not evaluate employee performance or effectively recommend discipline for Mechanics and Related Employees. Moreover, the Board has stated that subordinate officials may exercise some indicia of supervisory authority over members of a craft or class and still be included in the craft or class. See Midway Airlines, Inc., 18 NMB 193 (1991) (individuals who could authorize overtime, co-sign checks for fuel purchases, and recommend disciplinary actions were not management officials).
The Board finds that US Airways' QACs are encompassed by the certification issued to IAM in NMB Case No. R-4593. As there is no basis for further investigation, NMB File No. CR-6695 is converted to NMB Case No. R-6790 and dismissed.
By direction of the NATIONAL MEDIATION BOARD.
Stephen E. Crable
Chief of Staff
Mr. Robert Roach, Jr.
Mr. James Conley
David Neigus, Esq.
Mr. John Hedblom
Tom A. Jerman, Esq.
1. IAM requested accretion into NMB Case No. R-2146. The Board finds the proper certification for the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class is NMB Case No. R-4593.