53:0980(79)AR - - AFGE Local 2437 and VA Medical Center, Dallas, TX - - 1997 FLRAdec AR - - v53 p980



[ v53 p980 ]
53:0980(79)AR
The decision of the Authority follows:


53 FLRA No. 79

FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY

WASHINGTON, D.C.

_____

AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES

LOCAL 2437

(Union)

and

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS

MEDICAL CENTER

DALLAS, TEXAS

(Agency)

0-AR-3001

_____

ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION

December 11, 1997

_____

Before the Authority: Phyllis N. Segal, Chair; and Donald S. Wasserman, Member.

I. Statement of the Case

This matter is before the Authority on the Union's request for reconsideration of the Authority's Order Dismissing Exceptions in 0-AR-3001, dated October 8, 1997. The Agency filed an opposition to the request.

Section 2429.17 of the Authority's Regulations permits a party who can establish extraordinary circumstances to request reconsideration of an Authority decision. For the following reasons, we conclude that the Union has not established that extraordinary circumstances exist. Accordingly, we deny the Union's motion.

II. Decision in 0-AR-3001

The Arbitrator issued an award and the Union timely filed exceptions to the award. However, the Union's exceptions did not comply with the requirement in the Authority's Regulations that any document filed with the Authority be served on "all counsel of record or other designated representative(s) of parties[.]" 5 C.F.R. § 2429.27(a). Specifically, the Union did not show that it served the Agency's representative of record.

Because of this deficiency, the Authority issued an Order directing the Union to file with the Authority by September 24, 1997, an original and four copies of a statement of service showing that the exceptions were served on the Agency's representative of record. The Order stated that failure to comply with the Order "may result in dismissal of the Union's exceptions." Order at 2.

On October 8, the Authority dismissed the Union's exceptions because the Union had failed to file a response to the Authority's Order. The Union filed a motion for reconsideration or, in the alternative, motion for enlargement of time.

III. Union's Motion for Reconsideration

The Union argues that its failure to comply with the Authority's Order "was not intentional or purposeful, but was the result of inadvertence, accident, and/or mistake." Motion at 1. The Union argues that the following events prevented it from complying with the Order: its attorney went on vacation and failed to "assume responsibility for the file" upon returning; the attorney who took temporary responsibility for the Union's legal affairs was out of the office from September 6 through the 29, tending to an ill relative; and support services did not route the mail in the office to the proper attorney. Id. at 1, 2. The Union argues that such "[e]xcusable neglect is sufficient cause to reinstate the Union's appeal when the issues presented touch upon matters of significant importance in labor-management relations[,] [and] [t]his appeal presents free-speech related issues . . . ." Id. at 2. Finally, the Union argues that the deficiency was "not so fundamental as to prejudice any party to this action." Id.

IV. Agency's Opposition

The Agency argues that the Authority should deny the Union's Motion because the Union failed to show why it did not comply with the Authority's Order.

V. Analysis and Conclusions

Under section 2429.17 of the Authority's Regulations, a party seeking reconsideration after the Authority has issued a final decision or order bears the heavy burden of establishing that extraordinary circumstances exist to justify this unusual action. U.S. Department of the Air Force, 375th Combat Support Group, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, 50 FLRA 84, 85-87 (1995) (citing cases finding extraordinary circumstances).

The Union's first argument--that its failure to comply with the Authority's Order resulted from inadvertence, accident, and/or mistake within its office--does not demonstrate extraordinary circumstances. See United States Information Agency and American Federation of Government Employees, Local 1812, 49 FLRA 869, 870-72 (1994) (the unavailability of a party's part-time counsel, a lack of funds to hire another counsel, and the counsel's computer failure do not constitute extraordinary circumstances); Department of Veterans Affairs, Los Angeles Regional Office, Los Angeles, California and American Federation of Government Employees, Local 490, 44 F