21:0174(27)AR - GSA and AFGE, Council 236 -- 1986 FLRAdec AR
[ v21 p174 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:
21 FLRA No. 27 GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION Agency and AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO, COUNCIL 236 Union Case No. 0-AR-583 DECISION I. STATEMENT OF THE CASE This case is before the Authority on exceptions to the award of Arbitrator Louis Aronin 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 issues submitted to arbitration essentially were whether the Agency violated Article 5, Sections 3A and 3B and Article 27, Section 10 of the parties' collective bargaining agreement and section 7131(a) and (d) of the Statute by denying payment of travel and per diem expenses for union representatives negotiating term and/or mid-term agreements and performing other representational functions. Article 5, Sections 3A and 3B provided that union representatives would be granted official time for various labor-management relations activities and Article 27, Section 10 provided that travel would be provided in accordance with the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute. The Arbitrator found that by agreeing to the provisions involved, the Agency had agreed to pay travel and per diem expenses for employees on official time for the labor-management relations activities set forth in the agreement. Accordingly, as his award, the Arbitrator sustained the grievance and directed the Agency to pay travel and per diem expenses to employees who perform the representational functions set forth in the agreement. III. EXCEPTIONS In its exceptions, the Agency contends that the award is contrary to law. In support of its exceptions, the Agency argues, in effect, that the Agency is not obligated under section 7131 of the Statute to pay travel and per diem expenses for union representatives on official time and that the award is not authorized under the Travel Expense Act, 5 U.S.C. 52 5701, et seq. IV. ANALYSIS AND CONCLUSION The Arbitrator found that by agreeing to Article 27, Section 10, the Agency had agreed to pay travel and per diem expenses for employees on official time for the covered activities. Therefore, while the Agency is correct in stating that section 7131 of the Statute does not require agencies to pay such expenses, the Agency in this case, as determined by the Arbitrator, negotiated and agreed to a provision requiring it to pay. Article 27, Section 10 of the parties' agreement, as interpreted by the Arbitrator to require the payment of travel and per diem expenses for union representatives performing the labor-management relations activities set forth in Article 5, Section 3 pertaining to official time, is essentially to the same effect as the proposal found by the Authority to be within the duty to bargain in National Treasury Employees Union and Department of the Treasury, U.S. Customs Service, 21 FLRA No. 2 (1986). The proposal in that case provided: The employer agrees to pay the travel expenses incurred by employees while using official time available under the terms of this agreement. In finding the proposal to be within the duty to bargain, the Authority stated that the Statute is silent on whether travel expenses incurred in the conduct of labor-management relations activities are payable from Federal funds. Id. at 3. In this case, the Authority concludes that the Arbitrator's award based upon his interpretation of the parties' agreement is not contrary to section 7131(a) and (d) of the Statute as alleged by the Agency in its exceptions. Moreover, the Authority also ruled in U.S. Customs Service that the proposal in dispute was not inconsistent with the Travel Expense Act because that Act does not prohibit an agency from exercising, through negotiations, its discretion to determine whether travel attendant to labor-management relations activities is sufficiently within the interest of the United States so as to constitute official business for purposes of reimbursement of related travel expenses. Id. at 6. In this case, the Arbitrator determined that the Agency agreed to pay the travel and per diem expenses related to the labor-management relations activities covered by the official time provision of the parties' agreement. The Authority finds that the Arbitrator's determination effectively constitutes, in terms of U.S. Customs Service, a finding that the Agency had exercised its discretion under the Travel Expense Act through negotiations and had thereby determined that the covered activities were sufficiently within the interest of the United States so as to constitute official business. However, in U.S. Customs Service, the Authority concluded that the disputed proposal would not require the agency to authorize the payment of expenses which do not comport with regulatory requirements and restrictions. Id. at 6. The Authority based its conclusion on the union's acknowledgment that payment of any travel expenses flowing from the proposal, if agreed upon by the parties, would be subject to the provisions of the Federal Travel Regulations (FTRs). /1/ In this case, the Arbitrator in directing the payment of travel and per diem expenses in connection with the covered activities did not expressly provide for the Agency to determine the propriety of particular travel and per diem expenses under the FTRs. Consequently, the Authority must modify the award to assure that it is consistent with requirements of the FTRs. DECISION Accordingly, pursuant to section 2425.4 of the Authority's Rules and Regulations and for the reasons stated above, that portion of the award directing the payment of travel and per diem expenses is modified to provide as follows: The Employer shall pay travel and per diem pursuant to Article 27, Section 10, to employees who perform the representational functions on "official time" as set forth in Article 5, Sections 3A and 3B of tie parties' agreement insofar as consistent with applicable requirements of the Federal Travel Regulations. Issued, Washington, D.C., March 27, 1986 (s)--- Jerry L. Calhoun, Chairman (s)--- Henry B. Frazier III, Member FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY --------------- FOOTNOTES$ --------------- /1/ The FTRs, 41 CFR part 101-7, have been held to be Government-wide rules or regulations within the meaning of the Statute. National Federation of Federal Employees, Local 29 and U.S. Army Engineer District, Kansas City, Missouri, 13 FLRA 23, 24 (1983).