34:0315(60)AR - U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE WARNER ROBINS AIR LOGISTICS CENTER ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, GEORGIA and AFGE, LOCAL 987 -- 1990 FLRAdec AR



[ v34 p315 ]
34:0315(60)AR
The decision of the Authority follows:


  34 FLRA NO. 60
  

               U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE
              WARNER ROBINS AIR LOGISTICS CENTER
                ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, GEORGIA

                              and

          AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES
                           LOCAL 987

                           0-AR-1591

			   DECISION

     			January 17, 1990

     Before Chairman McKee and Members Talkin and Armendariz.

I. Statement of the Case

     This matter is before the Authority on an exception to the
award of Arbitrator Mathew W. Jewett. The Arbitrator found that a
10-day suspension of a unit employee was for just cause and,
accordingly, denied a grievance contesting the suspension.

     The American Federation of Government Employees, Local 987
(the Union) filed an exception under section 7122(a) of the
Federal Service Labor - Management Relations Statute (the
Statute) and part 2425 of the Authority's Rules and Regulations.
The Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, Department of the Air
Force, Warner Robins, Georgia (the Agency) filed an opposition to
the exception.

     For the reasons set forth below, we find that the Union
failed to demonstrate that the award is contrary to law, rule,
regulation, or other grounds as set forth in section 7122(a) of
the Statute. We deny the exception.

II. Background and Arbitrator's Award

     The grievant is employed by the Agency as a Sheet Metal
Mechanic Leader. On July 28, 1987, the grievant was missing from
his assigned work area from about 12:30 p.m. to the end of his
shift at 4:15 p.m. Efforts to locate him, including having him
paged over the public address system, were unsuccessful. The
grievant did not punch out at the end of his work day on July 28
and his time card was missing.

     Although the grievant claimed that he had been in the
Material Inventory Control (M.I.C.) area for the entire 4 hours,
he was listed as being absent without leave for the period. After
an investigation of the incident, he was given a 10-day
suspension for his absence on July 28.

     The grievant filed a grievance contesting the suspension,
and requesting that the suspension be removed from his record and
that he be made whole for the time spent on suspension. The
grievance was not settled and was submitted to arbitration.

     The Union argued before the Arbitrator that the 10-day
suspension was not for just cause. The Union claimed that the
grievant was on limited duty, assigned to desk work in the M.I.C.
area on the date in question, and that no attempt had been made
to locate him at that location. To support its position that the
grievant was on duty, the Union provided written statements from
two employees who stated that they had seen him in the M.I.C.
area on the afternoon on July 28.

     The Arbitrator denied the grievance. The Arbitrator found
that the grievant "did not offer any defense of his own" and that
the grievant failed "to make a persuasive case(.)" Award at 4.
The Arbitrator found that had the grievant been in the M.I.C.
area on the afternoon of July 28, as the Union asserted, he would
have heard his name being paged. Further, the Arbitrator noted
that it would have been unreasonable for the grievant to have
spent 4 hours in the M.I.C. area in light of the type of duties
performed there. The Arbitrator also found that the grievant
occupied the position of "leader" and, therefore, should have
been available to employees. The Arbitrator also noted that the
grievant had been disciplined twice within the previous 6 months
for the same type of offense.

III. Positions of the Parties

     A. Union's Exception

     The Union claims that the award is deficient because the
Arbitrator improperly shifted the burden of proof in a case
involving suspension, in violation of Air Force Regulation
40-750. The Union argues that the regulation requires management
to prove that misconduct has occurred. According to the Union,
the Arbitrator shifted the burden of proof and based his award on
the fact that he did not believe the grievant had proved his
case.

     The Union argues that management failed to prove its case.
The Union claims that: (1) the grievant was assigned to work in
the M.I.C. area on July 28; (2) two employees provided statements
that they had seen him in that area; and (3) management failed to
look for him there. The Union states that because there are no
public address speakers in the M.I.C. area, the grievant would
not have heard a page. The Union asserts that since the grievant
was working in a different area, his time card was sent to his
original work location and was transcribed by hand on a weekly
basis. The Union argues, therefore, that the grievant did not
punch out his time card at the end of the daily shift.

     The Union requests that the award be set aside, that the
grievant's suspension be removed from his personnel file and that
he be given backpay for the period of the suspension. The Union
also requests that an award of attorney fees be made to the
Union's attorney, and that any other appropriate remedy the
Authority wishes to fashion be made.

     B. Agency's Opposition

     The Agency argues that the Union's exception constitutes
simple disagreement with the Arbitrator's factual determinations,
analysis of the evidence, and rationale underlying his
conclusions, and does not provide a basis for setting aside the
award.

IV. Analysis and Conclusions

     We conclude that the Union has not established that the
Arbitrator's award is deficient on any of the grounds set forth
in section 7122(a) of the Statute. The Union has failed to
establish that the award is contrary to any law, rule,
or regulation or that the award is deficient on other grounds
similar to those applied by Federal courts in private sector
labor relations cases.

     The Union claims that the Arbitrator shifted the burden of
proof from the Agency to the grievant and, thereby, failed to
apply properly an Air Force regulation. We conclude that the
Arbitrator did not fail to apply properly the standard of proof.
The Arbitrator weighed all the evidence presented to him and
determined that the Agency proved its case--the Agency
established just cause for suspending the grievant due to the
latter's absence from work. Therefore, the Union's exception
constitutes nothing more than disagreement with the Arbitrator's
evaluation of the evidence and his reasoning and conclusions and
is an attempt to relitigate this case before the Authority. The
exception does not provide a basis for finding the award
deficient. See, for example, Carswell Air Force Base and American
Federation of Government Employees, Local 1364,