19:1177(129)AR - VA Medical Center, Tampa, FL and AFGE Local 547 -- 1985 FLRAdec AR



[ v19 p1177 ]
19:1177(129)AR
The decision of the Authority follows:


 19 FLRA No. 129
 
 VETERANS ADMINISTRATION MEDICAL
 CENTER, TAMPA, FLORIDA
 Activity
 
 and
 
 AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT
 EMPLOYEES, LOCAL 547
 Union
 
                                            Case No. O-AR-791
 
                                 DECISION
 
    This matter is before the Authority on exceptions to the award of
 Arbitrator J. A. Raffaele filed by the Veterans Administration (the
 Agency) under section 7122(a) of the Federal Service Labor-Management
 Relations Statute and part 2425 of the Authority's Rules and
 Regulations.
 
    The grievant, a GS-5 laboratory technician, claimed that he should
 have been promoted to GS-7 supervisory laboratory technician, the target
 level of his position.  A desk audit of the grievant's position was
 conducted by the Chief of the Activity's Classification and Wage Section
 to assist in determining the then current duties and responsibilities
 and proper grade level of the position.  The classifier initially found
 that the grievant was performing all of the duties of the target level
 position.  However, upon review of the initial desk audit findings with
 the grievant's supervisors, the classifier determined that the proper
 grade level of the duties actually performed by the grievant was GS-5
 and that the target level position had been incorrectly classified.  The
 classifier further determined that the position was not a supervisory
 position under applicable classification standards.  Accordingly, the
 position was redescribed and reclassified as a GS-5 nonsupervisory
 laboratory technician position.  The grievant then alleged that he had
 been improperly denied a promotion to GS-7 and that his new position
 description did not accurately reflect his duties.
 
    The Arbitrator found, in pertinent part, that the desk audit showed
 that the grievant was performing the duties of the GS-7 position
 description and the fact that the classifier subsequently determined
 with input from the grievant's supervisors that the initial finding was
 incorrect and that the target level position was erroneously classified
 did not establish that there was any error.  The Arbitrator concluded
 that based upon the desk audit, the GS-7 position description was a more
 accurate description of the grievant's position than the new GS-5
 description, which was formulated with supervisory input, and that while
 it may be that the grievant cannot be a supervisor under classification
 standards, that did not mean that he should not be permitted to continue
 to function under the GS-7 position description.  The Arbitrator found
 that the grievance was arbitrable and as his award on the merits
 directed, among other things, that the grievant "be given" the GS-7
 position description;  that the grievant be retroactively promoted to
 GS-7 for a particular period of time ending with the reclassification
 action;  and that the Activity submit the GS-7 position description to
 the Office of Personnel Management for determination of the proper grade
 level and take further action based upon that determination.
 
    As one of its exceptions, the Agency contends, that the award is
 contrary to section 7121(c)(5) of the Statute, which excludes from the
 coverage of negotiated grievance procedures any grievance concerning the
 classification of a position which does not result in the reduction in
 grade or pay of an employee.  /1/ The Authority agrees.
 
    The Authority has recognized that a grievance concerning the accuracy
 of an employee's official position description, such as a grievance as
 to whether the duties regularly assigned by management and performed by
 the grievant are accurately reflected in the position description, is
 not a grievance concerning classification within the meaning of section
 7121(c)(5).  Federal Aviation Administration, Department of
 Transportation, Tampa, Florida and Federal Aviation Science and
 Technological Association of Government Employees, 8 FLRA 532, 535
 (1982).  However, the Authority has also held that when the essential
 nature of a grievance goes beyond the accuracy of the contents of the
 grievant's position description and is integrally related to the
 accuracy of the classification of the grievant's position, e.g., where
 the substance of the dispute concerns the grade level of the duties
 assigned to and performed by the grievant, the grievance concerns the
 classification of a position within the meaning of section 7121(c)(5)
 and an award finding such a grievance arbitrable and resolving it on the
 merits is deficient as contrary to that provision of the Statute.  Id.,
 534-35.
 
    In terms of this case, while the grievant alleged that his new
 position description was inaccurate, the essential nature of the
 grievance and the Arbitrator's award clearly went beyond the accuracy of
 the contents of his position description.  Rather, the substance of the
 dispute was whether the grievant's position was properly classified and
 particularly concerned the grade level of the duties assigned to and
 performed by the grievant.  Thus, the essence of the grievance the
 Arbitrator addressed and resolved was so integrally related to, and
 controlling of, the classification of the grievant's position, that it
 must be found to be a grievance "concerning . . . the classification of
 any position which does not result in the reduction in grade or pay of