In the Matter of the
alleging a representation dispute
pursuant to Section 2, Ninth,
involving employees of
US AIRWAYS, INC.
28 NMB No. 29
CASE NO. R-6797
December 15, 2000
This decision addresses the application of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO (IAM) alleging a representation dispute pursuant to 45 U.S.C. § 152, Ninth, among "Ground Support Equipment Technical Supervisors," (GSE Technical Supervisors) at US Airways, Inc. (US Airways or Carrier). The IAM is the certified representative of the craft or class of Mechanics and Related Employees (NMB Case No. R-4593). The IAM asserts that the GSE Technical Supervisors are part of the craft or class.
For reasons set forth below, the National Mediation Board (Board or NMB) concludes that the GSE Technical Supervisors are already covered by the IAM's certification. Therefore, the Board dismisses the application.
On October 3, 2000, the IAM filed an application alleging a representation dispute among US Airways' GSE Technical Supervisors. The Organization requested the Board to accrete GSE Technical Supervisors into the Mechanics and Related craft or class. This application was assigned NMB File No. CR-6704. Mary L. Johnson was assigned as the Investigator.
US Airways submitted a position statement on October 25, 2000. The Carrier asserted that accretion in this matter would be improper as the GSE Technical Supervisors are management officials.
On November 17, 2000, the IAM filed a response to US Airways' position statement. The Organization stated that GSE Technical Supervisors are not management officials and share a work-related community of interest with Mechanics and Related Employees.
Are GSE Technical Supervisors management officials within the meaning of the Railway Labor Act (Act or RLA)? If not, is accretion proper?
US Airways argues that GSE Technical Supervisors are management officials with significant responsibility to commit funds, contract with outside vendors, and recommend Carrier policy. According to the Carrier, GSE Technical Supervisors exercise a high degree of independent judgment. In addition, the Carrier states that GSE Technical Supervisors' placement in its organizational hierarchy demonstrates that GSE Technical Supervisors are management officials.
US Airways also argues that should the Board determine GSE Technical Supervisors are not management officials, accretion without an election is "inappropriate" because these positions are "historically unrepresented" on US Airways. The Carrier cites unit clarification cases decided by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). According to the Carrier, the NLRB does not accrete positions which were "intentionally and historically . . . excluded." US Airways asserts that accretion without an election undermines employee free choice and disrupts "the stability of the bargaining agreement."
The IAM argues that GSE Technical Supervisors perform "virtually identical" functions to the Carrier's Maintenance Operations Control Supervisors (MOC Supervisors). The Board found MOC Supervisors were part of the Mechanics and Related craft or class in US Airways, 26 NMB 359 (1999). According to the IAM, "major purchases are made contractually by the Purchasing Department" and the authority to elect and hire outside vendors is vested in Station Managers. Further, the IAM asserts that any recommendations made by GSE Technical Supervisors are based on technical expertise. The Organization also states that there are three levels of management above GSE Technical Supervisors within the Carrier's Maintenance Department.
The IAM argues that US Airways' analogy of the NMB's accretion policy to the NLRB's unit clarification policy is "meritless."
FINDINGS 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 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
The basic functions of a GSE Technical Supervisor, as described in US Airways' "Maintenance Policies & Procedures,"(1) are to "[p]rovide the technical material, training and support for maintenance of the ground equipment including loading bridges and baggage belt systems."
1. Initiates EOs, CDs, Techni-tips and Typical Repairs.
2. Assist maintenance stations and vendors with ground equipment problems such as:
(a) How to test or troubleshoot equipment.
(b) Procurement of parts that cannot be found locally or in Stores.
(c) Training of contract personnel.
(d) Training of US Airways Equipment Maintenance personnel, classroom and OJT.
3. Updating and revising Ground Equipment Manual and training materials.
4. Assist in evaluation of new methods, products, and/or equipment which will improve ground equipment reliability and/or reduce maintenance costs, including maintenance vendor approvals on all ground support equipment.
5. Develop equipment specifications in co-ordination with equipment users.
6. Provide standardization and upgrading of ground equipment consistent with Company goals and projections.
7. Coordinate with vendor for new equipment to ensure effective and useful application.
8. Review Equipment Maintenance repairables for repair schemes to assure timely and cost-effective repairs.
9. Perform any additional duties and responsibilities as assigned in order to achieve department and Company objectives.
According to a US Airways Career Opportunity Bulletin (COB), the "minimum qualifications" are:
High school graduate with three years experience in trouble-shooting, repairs and modification of airline type ground support equipment or related experience. Strong background in electrical and hydraulic trouble-shooting. Have the ability to design modifications to ground equipment when working with manufacturers or contractors. . . . Must have working knowledge of personal computer system. Experience in repair and trouble-shooting of gasoline/diesel engines.
The "preferred qualifications" of the position are: "College graduate with BS in Mechanical or Electrical Engineering. Technical teaching experience. Background in dealing with Customer Services or Customer Support."
According to the COB, some of the duties of the position include:
Assist the Purchasing Department and the using department in establishing specifications for equipment as required. . . . Establish budget figures for repairs and renovation of all ground equipment including passenger loading bridges and baggage conveyor systems.
According to Thomas W. Stearns, Manager of Ground Support Equipment, GSE Technical Supervisors routinely "commit US Airways' funds by approving invoices related to equipment repairs and purchases . . . [and] have purchasing cards with which each [GSE] supervisor purchases approximately $10,000 worth of products and services . . . per month." Stearns also states, where the Carrier does not have maintenance facilities, "GSE Technical Supervisors have the authority . . . to select and to hire vendors to perform repair services."
Stearns also stated that "GSE Technical Supervisors recommend changes to equipment policies and guidelines for US Airways . . . [and] exercise a high degree of independent judgement . . . ."
Stearns stated further that GSE Technical Supervisors are compensated under the Carrier's management salary plan "and receive the same benefits as other US Airways management employees . . . ."
A GSE Technical Supervisor testified that GSE stock clerks "typically" purchase between "$18,000 and $25,000 worth of parts and services a month." Further, GSE Technical Supervisors "have no authority to discharge or discipline employees or to effectively recommend the same. They also cannot authorize overtime." The declarant also stated that, contrary to Stearns' assertions, it is the Station Manager who does the vendor contracts "only with assistance when requested of the Tech[nical] Supervisors to assure technical capability of the vendor." The GSE Technical Supervisor stated that Line Maintenance and Customer Service make the determinations as to which equipment is replaced.
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 (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).
In American Airlines, Inc., 24 NMB 521 (1997), the Board 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 MOC Supervisors did not commit Carrier funds nor bind the Carrier in dealings with outside parties.
US Airways' GSE Technical Supervisors are not management officials. There is no evidence that GSE Technical Supervisors have the authority to discharge and/or discipline employees or to effectively recommend the same. There are three levels of management above GSE Technical Supervisors in the Maintenance Department. GSE Technical Supervisors' placement in the management hierarchy does not establish that GSE Technical Supervisors are management officials.
The record establishes that while GSE Technical Supervisors can commit Carrier funds, the amounts are less on average than those of Stock Clerks, who are not management officials. GSE Technical Supervisors' exercise of independent judgment is based upon their technical expertise. The fact that GSE Technical Supervisors are compensated under the Carrier's management salary plan is insufficient to render them management officials.
The Board finds the NLRB cases cited by the Carrier are not germane to this determination. As the Board stated in Pend Oreille Valley Railroad, Inc., 10 NMB 402 (1983), "[t]he differences and distinctions in the National Labor Relations Act and the [RLA] have given rise to different methods and procedures for resolving representation questions. . . . The NLRB utilizes a different statute . . . and no rule . . . requires the NMB to . . . investigate by accepting NLRB policy as dispositive of disputes under the [RLA]." Id. at 407 - 408. See also Comair, Inc., 9 NMB 2 (1981); Air Florida, Inc., 7 NMB 162 (1979).
45 U.S.C. § 152, Ninth, provides that the Board may "utilize any . . . appropriate method" of determining who may represent employees "without interference, influence, or coercion exercised by the carrier." 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 (1965). The Court held that in determining choice of employee representative, the Railway Labor Act "leaves the details to the broad discretion of the Board with only the caveat that it 'insure' freedom from carrier interference." Id. at 669.
In Ross Aviation, 22 NMB 89 (1994), after finding an accretion, 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. US Airways, 28 NMB 50 (2000); United Airlines, Inc., 25 NMB 365 (1998); United Parcel Service, 25 NMB 326 (1998); Long Island Rail Road, 24 NMB 664 (1997).
The record establishes that GSE Technical Supervisors are responsible for coordinating ground equipment maintenance and providing technical evaluation and recommendations for resolution of maintenance problems. As found by the Board in United Airlines, Inc., 6 NMB 134, 135 (1977), "employees who perform work consisting of repairs, alterations, additions to and maintenance of buildings, hangars, and the repair, maintenance and operation of related equipment . . . ." are part of the Mechanics and Related craft or class. Applying the rationale in United Airlines to the present case, GSE Technical Supervisors share a work-related community of interest with Mechanics and Related Employees.
The Board finds that US Airways' GSE Technical Supervisors are not management officials and are covered by the certification in NMB Case No. R-4593. As there is no basis for further investigation, File No. CR-6704 is converted to NMB Case No. R-6797 and dismissed.
By direction of the NATIONAL MEDIATION BOARD.
Stephen E. Crable
Chief of Staff
Tom Jerman, Esq.
Mr. Robert Roach, Jr.
Mr. James Conley
David Neigus, Esq.
1. The IAM provided a copy of a "revised" position description for the GSE Technical Supervisors. The Board relied on the description provided by the Carrier and notes that the Board's determination would be the same if the Organization's submission were used.