27:0114(22)AR - HHS, SSA and AFGE -- 1987 FLRAdec AR

[ v27 p114 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:

 27 FLRA No. 22
                                            Case No. O-AR-1210
                                             (25 FLRA No. 33)
                         I.  Statement of the Case
    This matter is before us on requests filed by the Agency and the
 Union seeking reconsideration of our decision of February 3, 1987.  The
 Agency also filed a request for a stay of our decision.
    In our decision, after careful consideration of the record, we
 determined that the Agency had failed to establish that a number of the
 Arbitrator's bench awards were deficient on any of the grounds set forth
 in section 7122(a) of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations
 Statute (the Statute).  Accordingly, we denied the Agency's exceptions
 to those bench awards.  We also set aside one of the Arbitrator's bench
 awards as contrary to section 7106(a)(2)(B) of the Statute.
    Section 2429.17 of the Authority's Rules and Regulations permits a
 party that can establish "extraordinary circumstances" to request
 reconsideration of a decision of the Authority.
                         II.  The Agency's Request
    In its request, the Agency seeks reconsideration of our decision with
 respect to two of the bench awards.  The Agency argues that our decision
 denying the Agency's exceptions to those two awards was not based on an
 accurate interpretation of the facts.  Specifically, the Agency contends
 that (1) the Arbitrator's decision concerning straight-time payments for
 improperly denied official time is based on a non-fact, and (2) the
 decision concerning the photocopying machine is ambiguous and without
 basis in the record.  We conclude that the Agency has not established
 "extraordinary circumstances" within the meaning of section 2429.17.
 Rather, the arguments presented by the Agency in suppport of its request
 constitute nothing more than disagreement with the merits of our
 decision and an attempt to relitigate the matter.  The Agency's request
 for reconsideration must be denied.
                         III.  The Union's Request
                       A.  Positions of the Parties
    In its request, the Union seeks reconsideration of our decision
 setting aside one of the Arbitrator's bench awards, specifically his
 award of tuition, fees, official time, and travel and per diem for Mary
 Ellen Shea to attend Harvard University for the academic year 1986-1987,
 to obtain a masters degree in public administration.  Based on
 precendent in negotiability cases involving proposals to require
 management to provide specific formal training or to assign employees to
 specific training programs during working hours, we held that the
 Arbitrator's award was contrary to section 7106(a)(2)(B) of the Statute.
  In general, the Union contends that the Authority misconstrued certain
 facts central to the case, misinterpreted the Arbitrator's award, and
 misapplied its decisions in other cases in this dispute.
    Specifically, the Union argues that the Authority misconstrued Ms.
 Shea's attendance at Harvard as that of a federal employee on a career
 path rather than that of a union leader seeking to improve her advocacy
 skills.  The Union maintains that since Ms. Shea was a Union official on
 100 percent official time who had been designated by the Union to attend
 the Harvard program, her attendance was the result of her Union rather
 than federal employee responsibilities and that the Arbitrator's award
 was simply a reallocation of Union priorities.
    The Union further argues that the Arbitrator only awarded Ms. Shea
 official time and not tuition, books or travel and per diem.  The Union
 maintains that it only asked the Arbitrator to order the Agency to
 approve official time and to furnish the Union with information
 concerning training for all employees for the previous four years,
 includings information regarding official time, tuition, expenses, fees,
 and travel and per diem.
    The Union also argues that the cases cited by the Authority in the
 disputed decision are distinguishable from the situation in this case
 because they involved training for employees rather than training for
 union officials.  The Union argues that since the Authority has held
 that an arbitrator may award official time for union-sponsored or third
 party training pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement and that a
 provision for 100 percent official time may be reasonable, an award of
 official time for the 10-month masters program in this case is not
    Additionally, the Union contends that although the Agency initially
 approved official time for Ms. Shea to attend the Harvard program, the
 Agency unilaterally rescinded its approval after receiving our decision
 in this case, improperly denied her request for leave without pay
 (LWOP), ordered her to return to work before completing the program, and
 threatened her with termination if she failed to do so.
    In its opposition to the Union's request for reconsideration, the
 Agency argues that the record establishes that Ms. Shea sought to attend
 the Harvard program for personal reasons to advance her interest in
 pursuing a career in the field of labor relations.  The Agency also
 argues that the transcript of the proceeding before