21:0086(17)AR - Colorado River Storage Project, Bureau of Reclamation, Interior and IBEW Local 2159 -- 1986 FLRAdec AR



[ v21 p86 ]
21:0086(17)AR
The decision of the Authority follows:


 21 FLRA No. 17
 
 COLORADO RIVER STORAGE PROJECT, 
 BUREAU OF RECLAMATION, 
 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
 Activity
 
 and
 
 INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF 
 ELECTRICAL WORKERS, LOCAL 2159
 Union
 
                                            Case No 0-AR-495
 
                                 DECISION
 
                  I.  STATEMENT OF THE CASE
 
    This matter is before the Authority on exceptions to the interest
 arbitration award of Arbitrator William E. Rentfro filed by the Union
 under section 7122(a) of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations
 Statute and part 2425 of the Authority's Rules and Regulations.  /*/
 
                  II.  BACKGROUND AND ARBITRATOR'S AWARD
 
    The dispute before the Arbitrator concerned, among other things, the
 negotiation impasse of the parties over what modification, if any,
 should be made in the grievance procedures and what procedures should be
 followed by the parties in effecting final approval of agreements
 negotiated at the local level.  Pursuant to the provisions of the
 parties' general agreement approved by the Federal Services Impasses
 Panel, the impasse was referred to interest arbitration for resolution.
 With respect to the grievance procedures, the Arbitrator noted that the
 Union had proposed a change to provide travel and per diem expenses for
 the grievant, witnesses, and representatives while presenting a
 grievance.  In terms of the proposal, the Arbitrator observed that
 traditionally, the risk or cost in processing a grievance has been borne
 by each party.  He concluded that if each party pays its own way in
 pursuing a grievance, the stakes are more equitable and the parties are
 encouraged to settle the grievance at an early stage without resort to
 arbitration.  Accordingly, as his award in this respect, the Arbitrator
 determined not to incorporate this proposal into the collective
 bargaining agreement.
 
    With respect to the approval procedure, the Arbitrator noted that the
 Activity had proposed several amendments and that the Union had objected
 to the proposals because they were not within the mandatory duty to
 bargain and therefore were not properly before the Arbitrator.  The
 Arbitrator agreed with the Union's characterization and concluded that
 the proposed changes were not appropriate amendments to the approval
 procedure as contained in the existing agreement.  Accordingly, as his
 award in this respect, the Arbitrator determined not to change the
 approval procedure of the existing agreement.  However, because of the
 expressed concerns of the Activity, the Arbitrator suggested that a
 clarification of the existing agreement might satisfy those concerns.
 Thus, he suggested a clarification of the existing language and proposed
 for consideration by the parties certain additional language to further
 clarify the intent of the existing agreement.
 
    The Union has filed exceptions to the Arbitrator's resolution of both
 of these impasses.
 
                           III.  FIRST EXCEPTION
 
                              A.  Contentions
 
    In its first exception the Union contends that the Arbitrator's
 resolution of the impasse over grievance procedures by determining not
 to include a provision for travel and per diem is deficient as contrary
 to law and contrary to the evidence.  In support of this exception, the
 Union primarily argues that the refusal to provide for travel and per
 diem is contrary to section 7131(d) of the Statute and ignores the
 evidence showing the hardships on employees of grievances and the
 evidence showing that it is not traditional in the Federal sector for
 each side to pay its own costs.
 
                        B.  Analysis and Conclusion
 
    The Authority finds that the Union fails to establish that the award
 is deficient as alleged.  Contrary to the argument of the Union that the
 refusal to provide for travel and per diem is contrary to section
 7131(d), the Authority stated in National Treasury Employees Union and
 Department of the Treasury, U.S. Customs Service, 21 FLRA No. 2 (1986),
 that both the Statute and the legislative history are silent on the
 payment from Federal funds of travel expenses incurred in the conduct of
 labor-management relations activities, which would include in terms of
 this case the processing of grievances.  Id. at 3.  Moreover, the
 Authority noted in Customs Service that the U.S. Supreme Court, in
 Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, 464 U.S. 89 (1983), had
 rejected the argument that employees on official time were entitled
 under law to travel and per diem expenses.  In reaching its decision on
 remand in the Customs Service case, in the light of the Supreme Court's
 decision in BATF, the Authority concluded that the union's proposal
 seeking payment of travel and per diem expenses incurred by employees on
 official time was within the agency's duty to bargain under the Statute.
  However, the Authority further concluded that while the agency was
 obligated to bargain in good faith over the disputed proposal it was
 under no obligation to agree to the union's formulation.  Customs
 Service, at 8-9.  The Authority therefore finds in this case that the
 Union's position that it was entitled as a matter of law to have its
 proposal for the payment of travel and per diem expenses included in the
 parties' agreement is without merit.  The Authority concludes that the
 Arbitrator's determination not to require that the Union's proposal be
 included in the agreement is not contrary to section 7131(d) of the
 Statute as alleged by the Union.  Similarly, the Union's contention that
 the award is contrary to the evidence is nothing more than disagreement
 with the Arbitrator's evaluation of the evidence and with his reasoning
 and conclusions in reaching his determination not to incorporate the
 Union's proposal into the agreement.  Consequently, this contention
 provides no basis for finding the award deficient.  See, e.g., American
 Federation of Government Employees, Council 236 and General Services
 Administration, National Capital Region, 12 FLRA 236 (1983).
 
                           IV.  SECOND EXCEPTION
 
                              A.  Contentions
 
    In its second exception the Union contends that the Arbitrator's
 resolution of the impasse over the approval procedure is contrary to law
 and contrary to the evidence.
 
                        B.  Analysis and Conclusion
 
    The Authority finds that the Union fails to establish that the award
 is deficient as alleged.  In support of this exception the Union does
 not argue that the Arbitrator's determination not to change the existing
 agreement is deficient or that the approval provision of the existing
 agreement is contrary to law.  Instead, the Union only argues that the
 Arbitrator's suggested clarification of the existing language and his
 proposal of additional language for consideration by the parties, which
 the Union concedes is not mandated to be incorporated into the
 agreement, are deficient.  Consequently, because this exception does not
 address the award, which as noted r