The FLRA will not require CBP to negotiate with NTEU over its internal security policy that requires officers to stand while working at APC Kiosk podiums
As a result of CBP’s decision to implement the APC Kiosk initiative and its related policy of requiring officers to stand while inspecting passengers, NTEU filed a negotiability petition with the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA). A negotiability petition is filed when management refuses to bargain on an NTEU proposal based upon an assertion that the proposal violates management’s rights. Here, CBP claimed it had no duty to bargain over NTEU’s proposal that officers should have the discretion to determine for themselves whether or not to stand while processing passengers in the airport kiosk environment based upon its management right to determine its internal security practices.
As you are aware, CBP provides officers the discretion to stand or sit while working in the airport environment when inspecting passengers in the traditional booth. NTEU used this fact to argue that there was no reason to not grant such discretion for officers when they work at the kiosk podiums. In support, NTEU argued to the FLRA that it should follow its precedent in a previous negotiability decision where it overruled CBP’s decision to only permit officers to wear cargo shorts while working along the southwest border.
In the decision that was issued, the FLRA determined that CBP’s policy was covered by its right to determine its internal security practices and that once it made this decision, “the Authority will not review the merits of the agency’s policy or practice in the course of resolving a negotiability dispute.” Moreover, the FLRA found that NTEU’s proposal was neither a negotiable “procedure” nor an “appropriate arrangement” that would have required CBP to bargain over NTEU’s proposal.
In support, the FLRA distinguished its cargo shorts decision for two reasons. First, it accepted CBP’s argument that it permits officers the discretion to sit while in the traditional inspection booth because they need to access the booth computer whereas in the kiosk environment, the automated kiosks performs this function. Secondly, the FLRA accepted CBP’s argument that in the kiosk environment, “an officer is exposed to a greater threat from attack” because they are not sitting in a booth and therefore must stand while inspecting passengers.
Inasmuch as NTEU was not able to overcome the burden of challenging this aspect of CBP’s internal security policies, we will have to continue to address its adverse impact as is already being done by impacted chapters by arguing for measures such as more frequent rotations and the use of cushioned foot supports.