Department of Health and Human Services, Indian Health Service, Oklahoma City v. Federal Labor Relations Authority

The Indian Health Service (IHS) imposed a smoking ban for its hospital facilities.  A union requested negotiations with the IHS regarding the smoke-free policy.  After meetings with the union, the IHS determined that the four proposed alternatives offered by the union were non-negotiable and imposed the ban.  The union filed an unfair labor charge against IHS; the FLRA determined that IHS’ imposition of the ban without prior collective bargaining constituted an unfair labor practice.  The Court of Appeals held that the proposed smoking ban was subject to collective bargaining under the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute, absent a showing that the union’s proposed alternatives, including the establishment of well-ventilated rooms where employees could smoke during breaks, interfered with the agency’s objective of furthering the health of American Indians.  The Court thus denied IHS’ petition for review of FLRA’s decision.

885 F.2d 911, 1990 CCH OSHD sec. 29,167 (D.C. Cir. 1989).