American Federation of Government Employees, Local 15 (Union) and United States Department of the Army, Headquarters, Army Sustainment, Command, Rock Island, Illinois (Agency)

[ v63 p89 ]

63 FLRA No. 35

AMERICAN FEDERATION
OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES
LOCAL 15
(Union)

and

UNITED STATES
DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
HEADQUARTERS, ARMY SUSTAINMENT
COMMAND
ROCK ISLAND, ILLINOIS
(Agency)

0-AR-4265

_____

DECISION

January 30, 2009

_____

Before the Authority: Thomas M. Beck, Chairman and
Carol Waller Pope, Member

I.     Statement of the Case

      This matter is before the Authority on exceptions to an award of Arbitrator James E. Slavens filed by the Union under § 7122(a) of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (the Statute) and part 2425 of the Authority's Regulations. The Agency filed an opposition to the Union's exceptions.

      The Arbitrator denied the Union's request for attorney fees. For the reasons set forth below, we deny the Union's exceptions.

II.     Background and Arbitrator's Award

      In his original award, the Arbitrator awarded the grievant priority consideration for the next GS-13, Contract Price/Cost Analyst position, but did not award the Union its requested remedy of a retroactive promotion with backpay. See Exceptions, Attach. 6, Original Award at 1. [n1]  The Arbitrator stated that the original award was "in full settlement and satisfaction of all claims and counterclaims submitted to this arbitration." Exceptions, Attach. 1, Final Award at 1. The Union subsequently filed a request for attorney fees, which the Arbitrator denied. In this regard, the Arbitrator stated that his original award constituted "the closure of the arbitration[,]" and, as such, any further action by him would be "inappropriate." Id. The Arbitrator also stated that, although he had considered awarding "monetary amounts" in his original award, he "decided against it[,]" and, as such, his original award stands "without change." Id.

III.     Positions of the Parties

A.     Union's Exceptions

      The Union asserts that the Arbitrator's denial of attorney fees is "misplaced." Exceptions at 2. In this regard, the Union claims that the Arbitrator "ruled out" awarding attorney fees "without giving due weight" to 5 U.S.C. § 7701(g). [n2]  Id. at 2-3. In this connection, the Union argues that the grievant was the "prevailing party" because the Arbitrator ruled in his favor on every aspect of the grievance. Id. at 3. The Union also contends that, even though the Arbitrator did not award backpay, the Union prevailed, and, as such, a finding that attorney fees are appropriate in the interest of justice is not without merit. See id. at 5. [n3] 

B.     Agency's Opposition

      The Agency argues that the Arbitrator properly denied the Union's request for attorney fees because he did not award the Union backpay. See Opposition at 3 (citing AFGE, Local 4015, 52 FLRA 82, 84 (1996) (AFGE, Local 4015)). The Agency also claims tha