39:0702(58)AR - - Panama Canal Commission and International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots, Marine Division, ILA - - 1991 FLRAdec AR - - v39 p702
[ v39 p702 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:
39 FLRA No. 58
FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY
PANAMA CANAL COMMISSION
INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION OF MASTERS, MATES
AND PILOTS, MARINE DIVISION, ILA, AFL-CIO
February 19, 1991
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 Alexander Cocalis. The Arbitrator denied the grievance over the Agency's removal of the grievant from its pilot-in-training program.
The Union filed an exception to the award 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 Agency did not file an opposition to the Union's exception.
We conclude that the Union fails to establish that the award is deficient because it is contrary to an Agency rule or regulation. Accordingly, we will deny the Union's exception.
II. Background and Arbitrator's Award
The grievant was removed from the Agency's pilot-in-training program for employees piloting ships through the Panama Canal. The grievant was removed from the program after failing his first check ride(1) for the completion of phase II of the program. A grievance was filed over the removal and was submitted to arbitration.
According to the Arbitrator, the issue before him was whether the grievant was properly removed from the program. The Arbitrator determined that the standard to be applied in resolving this issue was whether there existed just cause for removing the grievant from the program. The Arbitrator noted that the parties had negotiated in their collective bargaining agreement a requirement that there be "just cause" for any adverse action.(2) In the Arbitrator's view, the action taken against the grievant constituted an adverse action.
In determining that the standard contained in the parties' agreement applied, the Arbitrator rejected the position of the Union that the applicable requirements were those established by the Agency's Chief, Maritime Training and set forth in a memorandum dated April 10, 1988. The Arbitrator noted that under the requirements promulgated on April 10, 1988, a pilot can be dropped from the program in only three instances: cheating, failing two examinations, or failing two check rides. The Arbitrator recognized that under these requirements, the grievant would clearly be entitled to a second check ride. However, the Arbitrator refused to apply these requirements because they "would render the 'good cause' requirement of the Agreement meaningless." Arbitrator's Award at 11.
Applying the standard of whether there was just cause for dropping the grievant from the program, the Arbitrator found that the Agency had just cause because the Agency had established that the grievant lacked the aptitude to pilot a ship on the Panama Canal. The Arbitrator also found