49:1492(132)AR - - DOD, Defense Communications Agency, Defense Commercial Communications Office, Scott AFB, IL and NAGE, Local R7-23 - - 1994 FLRAdec AR - - v49 p1492
[ v49 p1492 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:
49 FLRA No. 132
FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
DEFENSE COMMUNICATIONS AGENCY
DEFENSE COMMERCIAL COMMUNICATIONS OFFICE
SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, ILLINOIS
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES
June 30, 1994
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 Josef Rohlik filed by the Union 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 exceptions.
The Arbitrator found that the Agency's grievance, as amended, was arbitrable. We conclude that the Union fails to establish that the award is deficient. Accordingly, we will deny the exceptions.
II. Background and Arbitrator's Award
On March 30, 1993,(*) the Agency filed a grievance and contended that the Union was violating the parties' collective bargaining agreement by refusing to negotiate with the Agency. The grievance was signed by Colonel Warren L. Harris, as Principal Deputy Director of Defense Commercial Communications Office (DECCO). On April 2, DECCO filed an unfair labor practice charge against the Union alleging a refusal to bargain in violation of section 7116(b)(5) of the Statute. The charge was subsequently withdrawn by DECCO because it had failed to comply with the pre-charge procedures of the parties' collective bargaining agreement. On April 13, DECCO filed an amended grievance. On April 30, the Union rejected the grievance as procedurally deficient. The Union noted that the collective bargaining agreement required that grievances against the Union must be filed by the DECCO Commander and claimed that the Commander was the DECCO Director, not the Principal Deputy Director.
On May 17, DECCO filed another unfair labor practice charge alleging a violation of section 7116(b)(5) by the Union in its refusal to bargain. On July 26, the Authority's Regional Director refused to issue a complaint. He found that the charge was barred under section 7116(d) of the Statute by the earlier-filed grievances.
The grievance, as amended, was not resolved and was submitted to arbitration on the following issues: (1) whether the original grievance was properly submitted and properly signed by Colonel Harris under the collective bargaining agreement; (2) whether the amended grievance was properly signed by Colonel Harris and properly submitted in view of the unfair labor practice charge that preceded it; (3) whether the grievance, as amended, was timely filed; and (4) whether the grievance, as amended, was arbitrable notwithstanding that there had been no meeting between the Union's President and the DECCO Director.
The Arbitrator stated that under the parties' collective bargaining agreement, Agency grievances must be submitted by the "DECCO Commander." He found that prior to the reorganization of DECCO in 1988, it was clear that any Agency grievance had to be submitted by DECCO's top military officer at Scott Air Force Base. However, he further found that since the 1988 reorganization, there is no "DECCO Commander" and that, therefore, the term is ambiguous. He noted that prior to the reorganization, the DECCO Commander was a colonel at Scott Air Force Base, whose duties included all employee and labor relations with the bargaining unit. He acknowledged that in 1988 a civilian employee became the Director of the Defense Commercial Communications Office with duties exceeding those of the previous DECCO Commander. The Arbitrator found that there was no evidence that the DECCO Director engaged in any negotiations with the Union or that he exercised any authority in contract administration or employee matters at Scott Air Force Base. Instead, the Arbitrator found that, at the time of the grievance, the top DECCO officer at Scott Air Force Base involved in labor relations was DECCO's Principal Deputy Director, Colonel Harris. Consequently, the Arbitrator concluded that Colonel Harris was the successor to the "DECCO Commander" under the agreement, as far as the grievance before him was concerned. Accordingly, the Arbitrator ruled that the original grievance and the amended grievance were properly submitted and signed by Colonel Harris. He also ruled that the amended grievance was arbitrable even though there had been no grievance meeting because the required meeting had not taken place only because the Union objected to meeting without the DECCO Director present as the "DECCO Commander."
In addition, the Arbitrator ruled that the amended grievance was timely and was not barred by an unfair labor practice charge. The Arbitrator agreed with the Agency that the original grievance was timely filed and that, both for timeliness purposes and for purposes of section 7116(d), the filing date of the amended grievance should relate back to the filing date of the original grievance. Specifically, the Arbitrator ruled that the original grievance was timely under the agreement and that because the amendment was "nothing more than an elaboration" of the original grievance, the amended grievance was also timely under the agreement. Award at 31. Similarly, emphasizing that, for purposes of timing, the amended grievance was merely an elaboration of the orig