Does somebody in the office have a radio that blares offensive rock music, big band tunes or (whatever turns you off) Rimsky-Korsakov?
Are you distracted by coworkers who tune in to talk shows or religious broadcasts?
Do you feel old and grouchy when the gang gathers around the TV audio receiver to hear who is doing what to whom on The Young and the Restless?
Well, relax. The plug has been pulled in at least one agency.
Uncle Sam has been upheld in his efforts to silence radios -- with and without earphones -- at an IRS office in Utah. The only legal noise there now, aside from the rustle of papers and whirring of computers, is Music by Muzak. It happened this way:
Back in 1979, a group of swing-shift aides at the big (2,700 employe) center in Ogden asked the boss to let them bring radios to work to help them relax while they handled taxpayer appeals. They said the piped-in stuff was "outdated and grated on their nerves." Besides, they said, employes in another portion of the center had radios already
To make a long story short, IRS officials at the site near Salt Lake City said all radios had to go. The workers who had been happily listening to their radios at their desk were ticked off because their compatriots' request resulted in their plugs being pulled.
The National Treasury Employes Union got into the case. It argued that the decision to silence the radios was an unfair labor practice because the union was not consulted about the change in working conditions.
The case went to the Federal Labor Relations Authority. It was created to handle in-house government grievances ranging from the firing of 11,400 air traffic controllers to the cutoff of radios in Ogden, Utah.
FLRA asked an administrative law judge to decide. He did. What he decided was that IRS had the management right to turn the radios off.
Officials say the decision in this case is "without precedential significance," meaning it would be unfair to refer to No. 7 CA-849, April 22, 1982, as a landmark decision, or anything so heavy.
On the other hand, the FLRA does lean heavily on past decisions, when similar complaints come up. With the growing popularity of portable radios, and TV receivers, such cases are coming up all the time in government offices.
For now, the halls of the IRS in Ogden are silent. Except for the music the government pays to have piped in to one and all.