47:0095(3)AR - - Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Federal Prison Camp, Alderson, WV - - 1993 FLRAdec AR - - v47 p95
[ v47 p95 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:
47 FLRA No. 3
FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS
FEDERAL PRISON CAMP
ALDERSON, WEST VIRGINIA
AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES
March 4, 1993
Before Chairman McKee and Members Talkin and Armendariz.
I. Statement of the Case
This matter is before the Authority on exceptions to an award of Arbitrator Clair V. Duff filed by the Union under section 7122(a) of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute and part 2425 of the Authority's Rules and Regulations. The Agency filed an opposition to the Union's exceptions.
The Arbitrator denied a grievance contesting a 1-day suspension of the grievant for absence without leave. For the following reasons, we conclude that the Union fails to establish that the award is deficient. Therefore, we will deny the Union's exceptions.
II. Background and Arbitrator's Award
The grievant, a Senior Officer Specialist at the Agency's prison facility in Alderson, West Virginia, failed to report for duty on December 12, 1991. Subsequently, the Agency charged the grievant with 8 hours' absence without leave (AWOL) and decided to suspend her for 1 day for unexcused absence. A grievance was filed over the matter and, when the grievance was not resolved, it was submitted to arbitration.
The Arbitrator did not specifically state the issue to be resolved. However, the Union framed the issues as follows:
1. Did the [A]gency violate applicable law(s)[,] rule(s) and/or regulation(s), including provisions of the parties' collective bargaining agreement, in disciplining the grievant?
2. Was the discipline . . . taken for just and sufficient cause and for such cause as will promote the efficiency of the service?
3. Under the circumstances in this case, was the penalty of suspension commensurate with the alleged offense?
4. If the grievance is sustained, what should the remedy be?
Award at 4.
The Arbitrator stated, at the outset of his award, that the Union had "attempted to inject an additional controversy that ha[d] nothing to do with the suspension." Id. In particular, the Arbitrator rejected the Union's request that the arbitration include an issue relating to the Agency's decision on December 23, 1991, to place the grievant on "home duty status." Id. The Arbitrator noted testimony from an Agency witness that the reason the grievant was placed in such status was unrelated to her suspension and stated that the Union had not established a "causal connection between the AWOL issue and the 'home duty status' assignment." Id. at 5. The Arbitrator concluded that issues regarding the Agency's decision to place the grievant in home duty status were not relevant and were not properly before her. Id.
With respect to the 1-day suspension, the Arbitrator noted the parties' stipulation that the grievant "did not report for her regular assignment . . . on December 12, 1991 nor did she notify the [Agency] of her absence or request leave before the fact." Id. at 2. The Arbitrator also noted the grievant's absence affected the safety and security of certain prisoners. The Arbitrator concluded that "just and sufficient cause" supported the imposition of discipline for the grievant's absence. Id. at 5. Moreover, noting that the grievant offered no reason for her absence, the Arbitrator found that a 1-day suspension was necessary and proper. Accordingly, the Arbitrator denied the grievance.
III. Positions of the Parties
The Union contends that the award is deficient because the Arbitrator improperly failed to consider two "affirmative defenses raised by the [U]nion[.]" Exceptions at 1. In particular, the Union claims that the Arbitrator should have concluded that the Agency committed "an unfair labor practice(s) by conducting a formal meeting with the grievant without notifying the [U]nion and by changing her working conditions without prior consultation with the [U]nion" by placing the grievant in home duty status. Id. The Union also claims that "home duty constitutes a prohibited personnel practice . . . ." Id. at 2.
The Agency asserts that the Union's exceptions do not demonstrate that the award is deficient. According to the Agency, the exceptions constitute mere disagreement with the Arbitrator's determination of the issues and with the resolution of those issues.
IV. Analysis and Conclusions
As noted previously, the Arbitrator resolved only the issue of the grievant's 1-day suspension and concluded that issues regarding the Agency's decision to place the grievant in home duty status were not relevant to the matter of the suspension and were not properly before him. In our view, the Union is essentially disagreeing with the Arbitrator's determination of the issues to be resolved in arbitration and with his reasoning and conclusions.
It is well established that, in the absence of a stipulation by the parties, an arbitrator's formulation of the issues is accorded substantial deference. For example, U.S. Department of the Army, Army Aviation Center, Fort Rucker, Alabama and American Federation of Government Employees, Local 1815, 40 FLRA 94, 97 (1991) (Fort Rucker). The parties in this case did not stipulate the issues to be resolved by the Arbitrator. Accordingly, the Union's disagreement with the Arbitrator's determination that issues regarding home duty status were not properly before him does not demonstrate that the award is deficient. Id. Similarly, there is no indication in the record that the parties' stipulated to any issue regarding an alleged improper "formal meeting." Exceptions at 1. Accordingly, the Arbitrator's failure to consider such issue also does not demonst