Fort Stewart Schools v. Federal Labor Relations Authority, No. 89-65

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtSCALIA, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court. MARSHALL
Citation109 L.Ed.2d 659,110 S.Ct. 2043,495 U.S. 641
Decision Date29 May 1990
Docket NumberNo. 89-65
PartiesFORT STEWART SCHOOLS, Petitioner v. FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY, et al

495 U.S. 641
110 S.Ct. 2043
109 L.Ed.2d 659
FORT STEWART SCHOOLS, Petitioner

v.

FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY, et al.

No. 89-65.
Argued Jan. 10, 1990.
Decided May 29, 1990.
Syllabus

During collective bargaining, petitioner schools, which are owned and operated by the Army at a military facility, declined to negotiate with respondent Fort Stewart Association of Educators (Union) over proposals relating to a salary increase and fringe benefits. Respondent Federal Labor Relations Authority held that the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (FSLMRS or Statute) required petitioner to bargain over the proposals. The Court of Appeals affirmed.

Held: The Authority did not err in ruling that petitioner was required to bargain over the Union's proposals. Pp. 644-657.

(a) The Authority's conclusion that the Union's proposals related to "conditions of employment" within the meaning of the Statute, over which covered employers are required to bargain, is based upon a permissible construction and is entitled to deference absent an unambiguous expression of congressional intent to the contrary. Cf. Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837, 842-843, 104 S.Ct. 2778, 2781-2782, 81 L.Ed.2d 694. The Statute defines "conditions of employment" as matters "affecting working conditions," but excludes matters (1) relating to prohibited partisan political activities; (2) relating to the classification of positions; or (3) specifically provided for by federal statute. Although, in isolation, the term "working conditions" might be read to connote only the physical conditions under which an employee labors, the structure of the statutory definition tends to negate that meaning, which would render the first two exceptions unnecessary. There is no merit to petitioner's contention that, although the term "conditions of employment" may generally include any matter insisted upon as a prerequisite to accepting employment, it does not include wages. Wages are the quintessential prerequisite to accepting employment. Nor is the inclusion in the National Labor Relations Act and the Postal Reorganization Act of specific references to "wages" relevant here; those statutes deal with labor-management relations in entirely different spheres, and nothing in the FSLMRS indicates that it is to be read in pari materia with them. Statements in the legislative history suggesting that the FSLMRS duty to bargain does not extend to wage and fringe-benefit proposals are also irrelevant, in light of indications that these statements were based on

Page 642

the erroneous belief that the wages and benefits of all Executive Branch employees are fixed by law and are therefore eliminated from the "conditions of employment" definition by the third statutory exception. Pp. 644-650.

(b) The Union's proposals are not exempted from the statutory duty to bargain by an FSLMRS provision specifying that "nothing in this chapter shall affect the authority of any [agency] management official . . . to determine the [agency's] budget." Under the Authority's precedents interpreting this provision, petitioner had the burden of proving that the Union's proposals would result in significant and unavoidable increases in petitioner's costs. Since petitioner placed nothing in the record to document its total costs or even its current total teachers' salaries, the Authority reasonably determined that it could not conclude from an increase in one budget item of indeterminate amount whether petitioner's costs as a whole would be significantly and unavoidably increased. Pp. 650-653.

(c) Title 20 U.S.C. § 241—which directs agencies establishing schools on federally owned property to limit expenditures to "an amount per pupil which will not exceed the per pupil cost of free public education provided [by] comparable communities in the State"—and an implementing Army regulation—which requires that federal school salary schedules equal those in the private sector do not relieve petitioner of its duty to bargain on the ground that the Union's proposed salary increase would require petitioner to pay its teachers more than employees in local civilian school systems. In rejecting this argument, the Authority relied on an FSLMRS provision requiring, "to the extent not inconsistent with Federal law," bargaining over the subject of an agency regulation "if the Authority has determined . . . that no compelling need . . . exists for the . . . regulation," and on its own implementing regulation declaring that a "compelling need" exists if, among other things, the agency regulation in question implements a statutory mandate that is "essentially nondiscretionary in nature." It cannot be said that the salary equality requirement is "essentially nondiscretionary in nature," since § 241 mandates equivalence only in total per pupil expenditure, not in each separate element of educational cost. Pp. 653-657.

860 F.2d 396 (CA 11, 1988), affirmed.

SCALIA, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court. MARSHALL, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 657.

Christopher J. Wright, Washington, D.C., for petitioner.

Page 643

William E. Persina, Washington, D.C., for respondents.

Justice SCALIA delivered the opinion of the Court.

In this case we review the decision of the Federal Labor Relations Authority that petitioner Fort Stewart Schools, a Federal Government employer, is required to bargain with the labor union representing its employees over a proposal relating to wages and fringe benefits.

I

Respondent Fort Stewart Association of Educators (Union), is the collective-bargaining representative of the employees of two elementary schools at Fort Stewart, a United States military facility in Georgia. The schools, petitioner here, are owned and operated by the United States Army under authority of 64 Stat. 1107, 20 U.S.C. § 241(a), which directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to "make such arrangements . . . as may be necessary to provide free public education" for children living on federally owned property. The present controversy arose when, during the course of collective-bargaining negotiations, the Union submitted to the schools proposals relating to mileage reimbursement, various types of paid leave, and a salary increase. Petitioner declined to negotiate these matters, claiming that they were not subject to bargaining under Title VII of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, sometimes re-

Page 644

ferred to as the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute, 5 U.S.C. § 7101 et seq. (FSLMRS or Statute). The Union sought the aid of the Federal Labor Relations Authority pursuant to §§ 7105(a)(2)(D) and (E) and the Authority held that the Union's proposals were negotiable. Fort Stewart Assn. of Educators, 28 F.L.R.A. 547 (1987). Upon a petition for review by petitioner and cross-petitions for enforcement by the Authority and the Union, the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit upheld the Authority's decision, 860 F.2d 396 (1988), and we granted certiorari, 493 U.S. 807, 110 S.Ct. 47, 107 L.Ed.2d 16 (1989).

II

The FSLMRS requires a federal agency to negotiate in good faith with the chosen representative of employees covered by the Statute, 5 U.S.C. § 7114(a)(4), and makes it an unfair labor practice to refuse to do so, § 7116(a)(5). The scope of the negotiating obligation is set forth in § 7102, which confers upon covered employees the right, through their chosen representative, "to engage in collective bargaining with respect to conditions of employment." § 7102(2). Section 7103(a)(14) defines "conditions of employment" as follows:

" 'conditions of employment' means personnel policies, practices, and matters, whether established by rule, regulation, or otherwise, affecting working conditions, except that such term does not include policies, practices, and matters—

"(A) relating to political activities prohibited under subchapter III of chapter 73 of this title;

"(B) relating to the classification of any position; or

"(C) to the extent such matters are specifically provided for by Federal statute. . . ."

In construing these provisions, and the other provisions of the FSLMRS at issue in this case, the Authority was interpreting the statute that it is charged with implementing, see

Page 645

§ 7105. We must therefore review its conclusions under the standard set forth in Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837, 104 S.Ct. 2778, 81 L.Ed.2d 694 (1984). If, upon examination of "the particular statutory language at issue, as well as the language and design of the statute as a whole," K mart Corp. v. Cartier, Inc., 486 U.S. 281, 291, 108 S.Ct. 1811, 1818, 100 L.Ed.2d 313 (1988), it is clear that the Authority's interpretation is incorrect, then we need look no further, "for the court, as well as the agency, must give effect to the unambiguously expressed intent of Congress." Chevron, 467 U.S., at 842-843, 104 S.Ct., at 2781-2782. If, on the other hand, "the statute is silent or ambiguous" on the point at issue, we must decide "whether the agency's answer is based on a permissible construction of the statute." Ibid.

The Authority concluded that the Union's proposals related to "conditions of employment," following its decision in American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, Local 1897, 24 F.L.R.A. 377, 379 (1986) (AFGE). 28 F.L.R.A., at 550-551. Petitioner claims that this was error because § 7103(a)(14) defines "conditions of employment" as matters affecting "working conditions," and because the latter term most naturally connotes "the physical conditions under which an employee labors," Brief for Petitioner 17. The difficulty here, of course, is that the word "conditions" has two common meanings. It can mean matters "established or agreed upon as a requisite to the doing . . . of something else"; and it can also mean "attendant...

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147 practice notes
  • Gulf Fishermens Ass'n v. Nat'l Marine Fisheries Serv., No. 19-30006
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • August 3, 2020
    ...624, 635, 132 S.Ct. 2034, 182 L.Ed.2d 955 (2012) ), or "out of an abundance of caution," Fort Stewart Sch. v. Fed. Labor Relations Auth. , 495 U.S. 641, 646, 110 S.Ct. 2043, 109 L.Ed.2d 659 (1990). And, even on the agency's reading, the term "harvesting" is no more superfluous than "catchin......
  • Wilkinson v. Legal Services Corp., No. Civ.A. 91-0889 (JHG).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • November 19, 1998
    ...invoke the Accardi doctrine as a "well settled" or "familiar" principle, e.g., Fort Stewart Schools v. Federal Labor Relations Auth., 495 U.S. 641, 654, 110 S.Ct. 2043, 109 L.Ed.2d 659 (1990); Woerner v. United States Small Business Admin., 739 F.Supp. 641, 646 (D.D.C.1990) (Green, J.), the......
  • Circuit City Stores Inc. v Adams, 99-1379
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • March 21, 2001
    ...generis; instead, the explanation for the specifics is ex abundanti cautela, abundance of caution, see Fort Stewart Schools v. FLRA, 495 U.S. 641, 646 (1990). Nothing stands in the way of construing the coverage and exclusion clauses together, consistently and coherently. I respectfully dis......
  • Time Warner Entertainment Co., L.P. v. F.C.C., Nos. 93-1723
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • July 17, 1995
    ...statute as a whole," American Scholastic TV Programming v. FCC, 46 F.3d 1173, 1177 (D.C.Cir.1995) (quoting Fort Stewart Schools v. FLRA, 495 U.S. 641, 645, 110 S.Ct. 2043, 2046, 109 L.Ed.2d 659 (1990)), recognizing that "congressional intent can be understood only in light of the context in......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
146 cases
  • Gulf Fishermens Ass'n v. Nat'l Marine Fisheries Serv., No. 19-30006
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • August 3, 2020
    ...624, 635, 132 S.Ct. 2034, 182 L.Ed.2d 955 (2012) ), or "out of an abundance of caution," Fort Stewart Sch. v. Fed. Labor Relations Auth. , 495 U.S. 641, 646, 110 S.Ct. 2043, 109 L.Ed.2d 659 (1990). And, even on the agency's reading, the term "harvesting" is no more superfluous than "catchin......
  • Wilkinson v. Legal Services Corp., No. Civ.A. 91-0889 (JHG).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • November 19, 1998
    ...invoke the Accardi doctrine as a "well settled" or "familiar" principle, e.g., Fort Stewart Schools v. Federal Labor Relations Auth., 495 U.S. 641, 654, 110 S.Ct. 2043, 109 L.Ed.2d 659 (1990); Woerner v. United States Small Business Admin., 739 F.Supp. 641, 646 (D.D.C.1990) (Green, J.), the......
  • Circuit City Stores Inc. v Adams, 99-1379
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • March 21, 2001
    ...generis; instead, the explanation for the specifics is ex abundanti cautela, abundance of caution, see Fort Stewart Schools v. FLRA, 495 U.S. 641, 646 (1990). Nothing stands in the way of construing the coverage and exclusion clauses together, consistently and coherently. I respectfully dis......
  • Time Warner Entertainment Co., L.P. v. F.C.C., Nos. 93-1723
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • July 17, 1995
    ...statute as a whole," American Scholastic TV Programming v. FCC, 46 F.3d 1173, 1177 (D.C.Cir.1995) (quoting Fort Stewart Schools v. FLRA, 495 U.S. 641, 645, 110 S.Ct. 2043, 2046, 109 L.Ed.2d 659 (1990)), recognizing that "congressional intent can be understood only in light of the context in......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Justice Antonin Scalia, Constitutional Discourse, and the Legalistic State
    • United States
    • Political Research Quarterly Nbr. 44-4, December 1991
    • December 1, 1991
    ...768 F.2d 352 (D.C. Cir. 1985).Feres v. United States, 340 U. S 135 ( 1950).Fort Stewart Schools v. Federal Labor Relations Authority, 110 S. Ct. 2043 (1990).Frontiero v. Richardson, 411 U.S. 677 (1973).FWIPBS v. City of Dallas 110 S. Ct. 596 (1990).. , , , Gott v. Walters, 756 F.2d 902 (D.C......

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