19:1177(129)AR - VA Medical Center, Tampa, FL and AFGE Local 547 -- 1985 FLRAdec AR
[ v19 p1177 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:
19 FLRA No. 129 VETERANS ADMINISTRATION MEDICAL CENTER, TAMPA, FLORIDA Activity and AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, LOCAL 547 Union Case No. O-AR-791 DECISION This matter is before the Authority on exceptions to the award of Arbitrator J. A. Raffaele filed by the Veterans Administration (the Agency) under section 7122(a) of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute and part 2425 of the Authority's Rules and Regulations. The grievant, a GS-5 laboratory technician, claimed that he should have been promoted to GS-7 supervisory laboratory technician, the target level of his position. A desk audit of the grievant's position was conducted by the Chief of the Activity's Classification and Wage Section to assist in determining the then current duties and responsibilities and proper grade level of the position. The classifier initially found that the grievant was performing all of the duties of the target level position. However, upon review of the initial desk audit findings with the grievant's supervisors, the classifier determined that the proper grade level of the duties actually performed by the grievant was GS-5 and that the target level position had been incorrectly classified. The classifier further determined that the position was not a supervisory position under applicable classification standards. Accordingly, the position was redescribed and reclassified as a GS-5 nonsupervisory laboratory technician position. The grievant then alleged that he had been improperly denied a promotion to GS-7 and that his new position description did not accurately reflect his duties. The Arbitrator found, in pertinent part, that the desk audit showed that the grievant was performing the duties of the GS-7 position description and the fact that the classifier subsequently determined with input from the grievant's supervisors that the initial finding was incorrect and that the target level position was erroneously classified did not establish that there was any error. The Arbitrator concluded that based upon the desk audit, the GS-7 position description was a more accurate description of the grievant's position than the new GS-5 description, which was formulated with supervisory input, and that while it may be that the grievant cannot be a supervisor under classification standards, that did not mean that he should not be permitted to continue to function under the GS-7 position description. The Arbitrator found that the grievance was arbitrable and as his award on the merits directed, among other things, that the grievant "be given" the GS-7 position description; that the grievant be retroactively promoted to GS-7 for a particular period of time ending with the reclassification action; and that the Activity submit the GS-7 position description to the Office of Personnel Management for determination of the proper grade level and take further action based upon that determination. As one of its exceptions, the Agency contends, that the award is contrary to section 7121(c)(5) of the Statute, which excludes from the coverage of negotiated grievance procedures any grievance concerning the classification of a position which does not result in the reduction in grade or pay of an employee. /1/ The Authority agrees. The Authority has recognized that a grievance concerning the accuracy of an employee's official position description, such as a grievance as to whether the duties regularly assigned by management and performed by the grievant are accurately reflected in the position description, is not a grievance concerning classification within the meaning of section 7121(c)(5). Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Transportation, Tampa, Florida and Federal Aviation Science and Technological Association of Government Employees, 8 FLRA 532, 535 (1982). However, the Authority has also held that when the essential nature of a grievance goes beyond the accuracy of the contents of the grievant's position description and is integrally related to the accuracy of the classification of the grievant's position, e.g., where the substance of the dispute concerns the grade level of the duties assigned to and performed by the grievant, the grievance concerns the classification of a position within the meaning of section 7121(c)(5) and an award finding such a grievance arbitrable and resolving it on the merits is deficient as contrary to that provision of the Statute. Id., 534-35. In terms of this case, while the grievant alleged that his new position description was inaccurate, the essential nature of the grievance and the Arbitrator's award clearly went beyond the accuracy of the contents of his position description. Rather, the substance of the dispute was whether the grievant's position was properly classified and particularly concerned the grade level of the duties assigned to and performed by the grievant. Thus, the essence of the grievance the Arbitrator addressed and resolved was so integrally related to, and controlling of, the classification of the grievant's position, that it must be found to be a grievance "concerning . . . the classification of any position which does not result in the reduction in grade or pay of an employee" under section 7121(c)(5). Accordingly, the Arbitrator's award, finding the grievance arbitrable and resolving the dispute on the merits is deficient as contrary to section 7121(c)(5) and is hereby set aside. Henry B. Frazier III, Acting Chairman William J. McGinnis, Jr., Member FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY --------------- FOOTNOTES$ --------------- /1/ Section 7121(c)(5) provides: Sec. 7121. Grievance procedures . . . . (c) The preceding subsections of this section shall not apply with respect to any grievance concerning-- . . . . (5) the classification of any position which does not result in the reduction in grade or pay of an employee.