28:0768(99)AR - NWSEO, MEBA VS COMMERCE, NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE,
[ v28 p768 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:
28 FLRA NO. 99 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION, NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE, SOUTHERN REGION, NORTH LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS Agency and NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE EMPLOYEES ORGANIZATION MEBA, AFL-CIO Union Case No. 0-AR-1379
I. Statement of the Case
This matter is before the Authority on exceptions to the award of Arbitrator Charles N. Carnes filed by the Union under section 7122 of the Federal Service Labor - Management Relations Statute (the Statute) and part 2425 of the Authority's Rules and Regulations.
II. Background and Arbitrator's Award
The grievant, a Union official, was given a 1-day suspension for writing a letter concerning internal Union business as well as labor-management relations to another Union official. The grievant wrote the letter while on duty, used the Agency computer, and did not ask permission or request official time. A grievance was filed contesting the suspension, and the matter was submitted to arbitration.
The Arbitrator framed the issues to be resolved as (1) whether the suspension was for just cause and promoted the efficiency of the service, (2) whether the grievant was deprived of a neutral decisionmaker to evaluate the proposed suspension, and (3) whether the Agency committed an unfair labor practice when it filed a related grievance against the Union.
As to the first issue, the Arbitrator found that although the grievant's letter primarily concerned labor-management relations, a small portion of the letter concerned internal Union business and, therefore, discipline was warranted. He concluded, however, that the 1-day suspension did not promote the efficiency of the service and reduced the suspension to an official reprimand.
As to the second issue, the Arbitrator found that the grievant was improperly denied the right to have a neutral decisionmaker evaluate his notice of proposed suspension. He concluded, however, that the Agency's error was corrected at a subsequent step of the grievance procedure and that the error was not harmful.
As to the third issue, the Arbitrator found that there was no evidence that the related grievance filed by the Agency had been brought in bad faith or with an impermissible motive. He concluded that the Agency did not commit an unfair labor practice by filing the grievance. Accordingly, as his award the Arbitrator denied the grievance in part and sustained it in part.
In its first exception, the Union reiterates the arguments made before the Arbitrator that writing the letter while on duty was a proper use of duty time and that it did not interfere with