United States, Department of the Army Corps of Engineers, Northwestern Division and Portland District (Agency) and United Power Trades Organization, Colfax, Washington (Union)
[ v60 p595 ]
60 FLRA No. 119
DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
CORPS OF ENGINEERS, NORTHWESTERN
DIVISION AND PORTLAND DISTRICT
UNITED POWER TRADES ORGANIZATION
January 21, 2005
Before the Authority: Dale Cabaniss, Chairman, and
Carol Waller Pope and Tony Armendariz, Members
I. Statement of the Case
This matter is before the Authority on exceptions to an award of Arbitrator Elinor Nelson filed by the Agency under § 7122(a) of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (the Statute) and part 2425 of the Authority's Regulations. The Union filed an opposition to the Agency's exceptions.
After issuing an award directing the Agency to fill a particular position, the Arbitrator issued a second award concluding that the position may not be contracted out. For the following reasons, we set aside the challenged portion of the second award.
II. Background and Arbitrator's Award
As relevant here, the Union filed a grievance alleging that the Agency violated Clause IV of an agreement concerning a training program (the training agreement) by failing to recruit and hire a North Pacific Regional Educational Director (the disputed position). [n1] The grievance was unresolved and was submitted to arbitration. In her first award, the Arbitrator framed the issues, in pertinent part, [n2] as whether the Agency violated the training agreement "when it failed to fill the [disputed] position[,]" and "[i]f so, what is the appropriate remedy?" First Award at 3.
The Arbitrator found that Clause IV requires the Agency to fill the disputed position and that the Agency violated that Clause by failing to do so. Accordingly, the Arbitrator sustained the grievance and directed the Agency to "fill the position . . . with a professional educator, assigned the responsibilities detailed" in the training agreement. Id. at 14. The Arbitrator stated that, under "Article 6.16 of the Agreement . . . `any dispute over the interpretation or application of the arbitrator's award shall be returned to the arbitrator for settlement including remand of awards.'" Id. at 15 (quoting the agreement).
The Agency filed exceptions to the first award, alleging that it was contrary to management's rights to determine its organization, make selections, and assign work. The Authority denied the exceptions. See United States Dep't of the Army, Corps of Eng'rs, N.W. Div., Portland Dist., Portland, Or., 59 FLRA 86 (2003) (Corps of Eng'rs) (Member Armendariz dissenting).
Subsequently, the Union contacted the Arbitrator and claimed that the Agency was proposing to contract out the disputed position, which the Union asserted was contrary to both Clause IV of the training agreement and the first award. The Arbitrator, again citing Article 6.16 of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA), asserted jurisdiction.
In the award that resulted (the second award), the Arbitrator framed the pertinent issue as: "Does the Agency's proposal to contract out the duties of the [disputed] position rather than fill the position with a governmental employee . . . violate the Arbitrator's Award?" Second Award at 3. The Arbitrator rejected the Agency's request to reconsider the first award, finding that if she were to "change or amend" the first award, then the award "might be construed as lacking finality." Id. On the merits, the Arbitrator found that the parties intended that the disputed position would be filled by a full time Federal employee, not a contractor. Id. at 5. Accordingly, the Arbitrator again directed the Agency to fill the position with "a governmental employee . . . allocated for the position)." Id. at 6. [ v60 p596 ]
III. Positions of the Parties
A. Agency Exceptions
The Agency argues that its exceptions are timely because the second award imposed requirements that were not in the first award, "thereby effecting a new filing period for exceptions that commenced" upon issuance of the second award. Exceptions at 5. In addition, the Agency contends that the Arbitrator was functus officio because, although the Arbitrator was permitted to resolve issues regarding interpretation and application of the first award, she resolved issues regarding the training agreement -- not the award -- by making new findings regarding the agreement.
Further, the Agency contends that the second award is contrary to management's rights to: make determinations regarding contracting out; assign work; and determine the organization of the Agency. According to the Agency, the Arbitrator was not enforcing a provision negotiated pursuant to § 7106(b) of the Statute, and the award fails to reconstruct what management would have done if it had complied with Clause IV.
B. Union Opposition
The Union claims that the exceptions are untimely because the second award merely clarifies the first award. The Union also claims that the Agency's arguments regarding § 7106 merely reiterate its exceptions to the first award.
IV. Preliminary matter
The time limit for filing exceptions to an award "is thirty (30) days beginning on the date the award is served on the filing party." 5 C.F.R. § 2425.1(b). However, where an arbitrator modifies an award so as to give rise to the deficiencies alleged in the exceptions, the filing period begins with the modified award. See NAGE, Local R4-45, 55 FLRA 789, 793 (1999) (citations omitted).
In the first award, the Arbitrator directed the Agency to fill the disputed position. In the second award, the Arbitrator specified that the position must be filled by a government employee, rather than being contracted out. The specification that the position could not be contracted out gave rise to the deficiencies alleged in the Agency's exceptions. Thus, the time period for filing the exceptions began with the second award. It is undisputed that the Agency's exceptions were timely filed after issuance of the second award. Accordingly, we conclude that the Agency's exceptions are timely filed.
V. Analysis and Conclusions
A. The Arbitrator was not functus officio.
Pursuant to the doctrine of functus officio, once an arbitrator has accomplished the resolution of the matter submitted, the arbitrator is without further authority. See United States Dep't of the Army, Corpus Christi Army Depot, Corpus Christi, Tex., 58 FLRA 77, 80 (2002) (citation omitted) (Member Pope dissenting on other grounds). However, an arbitrator may clarify or correct an award to correct clerical mistakes or obvious errors in arithmetical computation, and may clarify an ambiguous award and restate the basis for the award which conforms to the arbitrator's original findings. See AFGE, Local 400, 50 FLRA 525, 526 (1995). Further, where an arbitrator retains jurisdiction to resolve disputes over interpretation or implementation of an award, the arbitrator may issue a supplemental award resolving such disputes without a joint request from the parties. See AFGE, Local 1156, 57 FLRA 602, 603 (2001), recons. denied, 57 FLRA 748 (2002). Moreover, where an agreement permits an arbitrator to conduct further proceedings, the functus officio doctrine does not preclude the arbitrator from issuing a supplemental award. See Hotel Greystone Corp. v. N.Y. Hotel & Motel Trades Council, AFL-CIO, 902 F. Supp. 482, 483-85 (S.D.N.Y. 1995).
The Agency concedes that the Arbitrator had jurisdiction over interpretation and application of the first award, but claims that the second award is an interpretation of the training agreement, not the first award. Contrary to the Agency's claim, however, the Arbitrator explicitly framed the pertinent issue as whether contracting out the disputed position would "violate the Arbitrator's Award" -- not the training agreement. Second Award at 3. In addition, the Arbitrator expressly rejected the Agency's request that she reconsider the first award and, in so doing, specifically "reaffirm[ed]" the first award. Id. Moreover, the Arbitrator concluded that the Agency's arguments were an attempt to justify its violation of the first award and that the Agency itself "understood that the [first] [a]ward meant filling the [disputed] position" by a government employee. Id. at 5. In these circumstances, we find that the second award constitutes an interpretation and application of the first award. As the Agency concedes that the Arbitrator had jurisdiction over interpretation and application of the first award -- and consistent with the fact that Article 6.16 of the parties' agreement specifically permitted the Arbitrator to exercise such jurisdiction -- we conclude that the Arbitrator was not functus officio, and we deny the exception. [ v60 p597 ]
B. The challenged portion of the second award is inconsistent with management's right to make determinations with respect to contracting out under § 7106(a)(2)(B) of the Statute.
The Agency argues that the second award is inconsistent with management's rights under § 7106(a) of the Statute. The Authority reviews questions of law de novo. See NTEU, Chapter 24, 50 FLRA 330, 332 (1995) (citing U