United States Department of the Navy, Naval Air Engineering Station, Lakehurst, New Jersey (Agency) and National Association of Government Employees, Local R2-84 (Union)

64 FLRA No. 193                     

 

 

FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY

WASHINGTON, D.C.

 

_____

 

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY

NAVAL AIR ENGINEERING STATION

LAKEHURST, NEW JERSEY

(Agency)

 

and

 

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES

LOCAL R2 - 84

(Union)

 

0-AR-4638

 

_____

 

DECISION

 

July 21, 2010

 

_____

 

Before the Authority:  Carol Waller Pope, Chairman, and

Thomas M. Beck and Ernest DuBester, Members

 

I.          Statement of the Case

 

This matter is before the Authority on an exception to an award of Arbitrator Jay D. Goldstein 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 exception.

           

            The Arbitrator found that the Agency violated the parties’ collective bargaining agreement by refusing to compensate police officers for their on-duty lunch periods in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  For the following reasons, we set aside the award.

 

 

 

II.        Background and Arbitrator’s Award

 

            Article 34, Sections 1 and 2 of the parties’ agreement establish a workday of eight and one-half hours for civilian police officers, including one half-hour compensated as overtime.[1]  See Award at 4.  Under those provisions, officers were permitted to eat “on-the-clock” without a designated lunch break.  Id. 

 

            In November 2004, the Agency advised the Union that these agreement provisions were unlawful, that the work shift would begin to include an unpaid half-hour lunch period, and that the “previously paid one-half hour of daily overtime would be eliminated.”  Id. at 2.

 

            In February 2005, the Union filed unfair labor practice (ULP) charges alleging that, by eliminating the paid lunch period, the Agency had repudiated Article 34, Sections 1 and 2 of the agreement in violation of the Statute.  Id.  The Authority’s Regional Office dismissed the charges, and the Authority’s Office of General Counsel denied the Union’s subsequent appeal of that dismissal.  Id. 

 

            The Union filed a grievance in February 2008 alleging “[r]epudiation of elements of the overall negotiated agreement[,]” and that “Article 34 . . . , Sections 1 and 2 have been completely ignored[.]”  Exception, Attach., Ex. H at 2.  The Union also filed a handwritten addendum to the grievance stating that “[t]he Union’s position is that Management is in violation of the bargaining agreement.”  Id. at 3.  The grievance was unresolved and submitted to arbitration.  Award at 3. 

 

            At arbitration, the parties stipulated to the following issue:  “Whether the civilian police officers . . . are entitled to ‘standby’ pay, or, are, in an on-call status (i.e., unpaid) during their one-half hour ‘unpaid’ lunch period?”  Id.  The Arbitrator found that the officers were required to be “on-duty” during their lunch period and, therefore, were entitled to compensation under Article 12, Section 12 of the parties’ agreement.[2]  Id. at 14-15.  The Arbitrator noted that the Agency failed to raise any procedural or arbitrability questions regarding the Union’s right to bring a claim.  Id. at 15.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Positions of the Parties

 

A.                Agency’s Exception

 

The Agency argues that the award is contrary to § 7116(d) of the Statute.[3]  Specifically, the Agency contends that the Union’s ULP charges and grievance are based on the same legal theory that the Agency repudiated the parties’ agreement.  Exception at 9-10.  The Agency also contends that, although it failed to raise § 7116(d) at arbitration, this does not preclude the Authority from considering the issue because challenges to subject-matter jurisdiction can be raised at any time.  Id at 10-11.

 

B.                 Union’s Opposition

 

The Union contends that the award is not barred by § 7116(d) of the Statute because its grievance and ULP charges advance two different legal theories.  Opp’n

at 7-8.  The Union concedes that “the initial grievance documents did claim repudiation,” but argues that § 7116(d) did not bar the grievance because the Union:  (1) did not pursue the repudiation theory at arbitration; (2) did not make a repudiation argument in its brief to the Arbitrator; and (3) added an addendum to the grievance that presented only a breach-of-contract theory.  Id. 

 

IV.             Preliminary Issue

           

It is undisputed that the Agency did not raise § 7116(d) before the Arbitrator.  However, the Authority has held that a party’s failure to raise § 7116(d) before an arbitrator does not preclude the Authority from addressing § 7116(d) issues.  See EEOC, 48 FLRA 822, 827 (1993).  In this connection, the Authority has held that “[e]xceptions that challenge an arbitrator's jurisdiction under the Statute may be considered by the Authority regardless of whether the jurisdictional argument was made to the arbitrator.”  Id. at 827-28 (citing U.S. Dep’t of Justice, Immigration & Naturalization Serv., El Paso, Tex., 40 FLRA 43, 51-52 (1991)).  Accordingly, we will consider the Agency’s § 7116(d) exception.

 

V.                Analysi