DETAILS: WHAT ABOUT THOSE LEFT BEHIND?
Most agreements contain a clause that spells out how employees are to be selected for details, but what about the employees who are left behind when someone leaves on a detail or reassignment? The FLRA has held that those left behind can be “adversely affected” by even a temporary loss of a coworker, which means that before management can detail the selected employee the union has a right to be notified of the change and bargain over the impact.
In AFGE, 51 FLRA 357 (1995) the Authority upheld an ALJ’s unilateral change ULP finding because it found those left behind by a detail were adversely impacted as follows:
Peuchner’s detail had an adverse affect upon working conditions of the other Claims Representatives in the Mesa facility. Thus, the record reveals that when Peuchner went on the detail, the approximately 11 other Claims Representatives in the Mesa facility were required to perform additional work assignments occasioned by the redistribution of the work previously performed by Peuchner such as claims processing, interviewing claimants and responding to telephone inquires. Additional work assignments to a Claims Representative could conceivably negatively impact on the employee’s performance evaluation. Other matters of concern to the Union included procedures involving the approval authority for Peuchner’s requests for annual and sick leave and who would appraise Peuchner during his detail and for the year overall.
This case gives the union a good argument that management should notify it of all details or similar reductions in staffing in any work group so that the union can assess whether there is adverse impact and a right to bargain before the staff is reduced. The union should also spread the word among embers that if they feel adversely impacted by the loss of a co-worker via detail or reassignment they should contact the union.