Arbitration

Negotiated grievance procedures and the arbitration process

The Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (the Statute) requires that collective-bargaining agreements between agencies and unions include negotiated grievance procedures that an employee, union, or agency may use to pursue certain types of workplace disputes.  The Statute also requires that negotiated grievance procedures provide for binding arbitration of grievances that the parties are unable to resolve.  Generally, only an agency or a union may invoke arbitration; an individual employee may not.  For more detailed information about negotiated grievance procedures and the arbitration process, see the FLRA's Guide to Arbitration and the FLRA's web-based Comprehensive Arbitration Training.

Appealing an arbitration award to the Authority

Once an arbitrator issues an award, either an agency or a union may appeal the arbitrator's award to the FLRA's three-Member adjudicatory body (the Authority) by filing an "exception" within 30 days after the arbitrator's service of the award on the parties.  For more information on the procedures for filing an exception, including time limits, click here.  Specific questions about exceptions can be directed to the Office of Case Intake and Publication.  Information about how the Authority has resolved particular kinds of disputes over arbitration awards can be obtained from the Authority's previous decisions and in the FLRA's Guide to Arbitration.

What happens after the Authority resolves an arbitration appeal (or no appeal is filed)?

After the Authority issues a decision that resolves exceptions to an arbitrator's award, or no exceptions (or procedurally sufficient exceptions) are filed, the arbitrator's award becomes final and binding, and a party's refusal to comply with the award may be an unfair labor practice (ULP).  In such situations, if a party seeks to achieve enforcement of the arbitrator's award, then the party may file a ULP charge with an FLRA Regional Office.

If a party disagrees with an Authority decision in an arbitration case, then the party may file a motion for reconsideration under 5 C.F.R. § 2429.17.  But a party generally may not appeal an Authority decision in an arbitration case to any court, unless a ULP is involved.