21:0125(24)AR - GSA and AFGE, Council 236 -- 1986 FLRAdec AR



[ v21 p125 ]
21:0125(24)AR
The decision of the Authority follows:


 21 FLRA No. 24
 
 GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION
 Agency
 
 and
 
 AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT 
 EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO, COUNCIL 236
 Union
 
                                            Case No. 0-AR-727
 
                                 DECISION
 
    I.  STATEMENT OF THE CASE
 
    This matter is before the Authority on an exception to the award of
 Arbitrator Thomas Angelo filed by the Agency pursuant to section 7122(a)
 of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute and part 2425
 of the Authority's Rules and Regulations.
 
    II.  BACKGROUND AND ARBITRATOR'S AWARD
 
    The substantive issue submitted to arbitration was whether the Agency
 violated section 7131(d) of the Statute and Article 27, Section 10 of
 the parties' negotiated agreement by failing to pay the travel and per
 diem expenses of the Union's Regional Vice President when he performed
 certain representational activities on official time.  Article 27,
 Section 10 provided that travel would be paid in accordance with the
 Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute.  The Arbitrator
 found that the parties had agreed in that provision that union
 representatives engaged in the activities set forth elsewhere in the
 parties' agreement (Article 6, which pertained to official time) were
 entitled to reimbursement for related travel and per diem expenses.  In
 his award, the Arbitrator determined that the Agency was obligated under
 Article 27, Section 10 of the parties' agreement to pay the individual
 representative in this case reasonable and necessary travel and per diem
 expenses in connection with the representational activities involved.
 As a remedy, the Arbitrator directed the Agency to reimburse the
 representative "in the same manner and to the same extent it would
 otherwise reimburse employees engaged in official Agency travel, upon
 presentation of appropriate documentation with respect to his expenses."
 
    III.  FIRST EXCEPTION
 
    A. Contention
 
    In its first exception, the Agency contends that the Arbitrator's
 award fails to draw its essence from the parties' collective bargaining
 agreement.  In support of this contention, the Agency argues that it did
 not agree to pay travel and per diem expenses for union representatives
 on official time, but merely agreed to abide by any obligation it might
 have under the Federal Service Labor- Management Relations Statute to
 pay such expenses.
 
    B. Analysis and Conclusion
 
    It is well-established that in order for an award to be found
 deficient as failing to draw its essence from the parties' agreement,
 the party making the allegation must demonstrate that the award cannot
 in any rational way be derived from the agreement;  or that the award is
 so unfounded in reason and fact, so unconnected with the wording and
 purpose of the agreement, as to manifest an infidelity to the obligation
 of the arbitrator;  or that the award evidences a manifest disregard for
 the agreement;  or that the award does not represent a plausible
 interpretation of the agreement.  E.g., American Federation of
 Government Employees, National Border Patrol Council and U.S.
 Immigration and Naturalization Service, Southern Region, Dallas, Texas,
 3 FLRA 540, 543 (1980).  In this case, the Authority finds that the
 Agency has failed to demonstrate that the Arbitrator's award does not
 draw its essence from the parties' agreement under any of the tests
 described in INS, Southern Region.  Rather, the exception merely
 constitutes disagreement with the Arbitrator's interpretation of the
 agreement and therefore does not provide any basis for finding the award
 deficient.  E.g. The Philadelphia Regional Office, District Office
 Operations, Social Security Administration and American Federation of
 Government Employee Employees, AFL-CIO, Local 3186, 15 FLRA 211 (1984).
 
    IV.  SECOND EXCEPTION
 
    A. Contention
 
    In its second exception, the Agency in effect contends that the
 Arbitrator's award is contrary to section 7131 of the Statute because,
 as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Bureau of
 Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms v. FLRA, 464 U.S. 89 (1983), the Agency is
 not obligated to pay travel and per diem expenses for union
 representatives on official time under that provision.
 
    B. Analysis and Conclusion
 
    As indicated above, the Arbitrator in this case interpreted Article
 27, Section 10 of the parties' agreement as requiring the Agency to pay
 the travel and per diem expenses of union representatives performing
 covered labor-management relations activities on official time.  The
 Authority therefore finds that while the Agency is correct in stating
 that section 7131 of the Statute does not require agencies to pay travel
 and per diem to union representatives on official time, in this case, as
 determined by the Arbitrator, the Agency negotiated an agreement
 provision requiring it to pay such expenses.  Further in that regard,
 the provision involved, Article 27, Section 10, is essentially to the
 same effect as the proposal found by the Authority to be within the duty
 to bargain in National Treasury Employees Union and Department of the
 Treasury, U.S. Customs Service, 21 FLRA No. 2 (1986).  The proposal in
 that case provided:
 
       The employer agrees to pay the travel expenses incurred by
       employees while using official time available under the terms of
       this agreement.
 
    relations activities covered by the official time provision of the
 parties' agreement.  The Authority finds that the Arbitrator's
 determination effectively constitutes, in terms of U.S. Customs Service,
 a finding that the Agency had exercised its discretion under the Travel
 Expense Act through negotiations and had determined that the covered
 activities were sufficiently within the interest of the United States so
 as to constitute official business.
 
    Additionally, in finding the proposal in U.S. Customs Service to be
 within the duty to bargain, the Authority concluded that the disputed
 proposal would not require the agency to authorize the payment of
 expenses which did not comport with regulatory requirements and
 restrictions.  Id. at 6. The Authority based its conclusion on the
 union's acknowledgment that the payment of any travel expenses flowing
 from the proposal, if agreed upon by the parties, would be subject to
 the provisions of the Federal Travel Regulations (FTRs).  /1/ In this
 case, the Arbitrator in directing the payment of travel and per diem
 expenses in connection with the covered activities expressly provided
 for the Agency to reimburse the employee representative here involved
 "in the same manner and to the same extent it would otherwise reimburse
 employees engaged in official Agency travel, upon presentation of
 appropriate documentation with respect to his expenses." Thus, the
 Arbitrator effectively directed the payment of travel and per diem
 expenses only to the extent the expenses are consistent with the FTRs.
 Accordingly, the Authority conclud