* Union Facilities: AFGE requested the NMFS provide the union with a designated work space separate from the union president’s normal workstation. NMFS countered that a normal workstation provided adequate resources. The Panel sided with the agency, stating that it had provided necessary accommodations.

* Employee and Representative Travel: The union argued that grievance meetings, arbitration hearings and midterms negotiations should be conducted “face-to-face” as often as possible, while the agency argued that video- and teleconferencing was equally acceptable and more cost effective. FSIP agreed with the agency, citing rising travel costs throughout the federal government.

* Union Representatives Official Time: NMFS sought to cap the number of annual hours allotted for union official time at 418 and training hours at 100, while AFGE requested no cap and 300 training hours. Though the Panel stated it did not how the agency determined the cap number, it agreed with NMFS that the cap was needed and agreed with the 100-hour limit.

* Grievance Procedure: The union wanted individual employees to be permitted to file grievances and the agency wanted to reserve that right for only itself and union representatives. The Panel sided with the agency, stating that “permitting a bargaining-unit employee to file a grievance … could generate numerous disputes over issues unrelated to the employee’s own employment.”

* Details and Temporary Promotion: AFGE requested that when the agency determined “no single best candidate” for a position and “all are deemed to be equally qualified”, seniority would be the deciding factor. The agency wanted to the ability to consider other factors in those situations. FSIP granted NMFS that ability, citing the need for “junior” employees who might “benefit from the experience of working a detail assignment or having at temporary promotion opportunity.”

* Employee Health and Fitness: The union sought up to three hours per week for employees “to voluntarily participate in wellness/fitness activities if their workload permits.” The agency argued adequate resources were available through its Employee Assistance Program. The Panel ruled that allowing employees three hours per week was too much time and would detract the agency from pursuing its mission.

* Employee Recognition: The union sought a non-voting membership on agency awards panels to ensure all regulations were met. The agency argued that membership was not necessary -- no significant problems had arisen from the current panel configurations. FSIP agreed with the agency, stating the union had not provided sufficient evidence to change the status quo.

* Research Cruise Staffing Article: AFGE addressed what it considered “unsanitary conditions” on some research boats, among other nautical working conditions. The agency countered that it would address matters “to the extent that the employer has control over them.” The Panel sided with the union, stating the agency is required to “ensure employees are provided with a safe and healthful environment while at sea.”

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