25:0513(37)AR - SSA and AFGE Local Union 1923 -- 1987 FLRAdec AR
[ v25 p513 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:
25 FLRA No. 37 SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION Agency and AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, LOCAL UNION 1923 Union Case No. 0-AR-1186 DECISION I. STATEMENT OF THE CASE This matter is before the Authority on an exception to the award of Arbitrator Donald W. Jarrell filed by the Agency under section 7122(a) of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (the Statute) and part 2425 of the Authority's Rules and Regulations. II. BACKGROUND AND ARBITRATOR'S AWARD A grievance was filed protesting the grievant's performance rating for Generic Job Task (GJT) 1, which is entitled "adjudicates claims," and requesting that the rating be raised to the next highest level. The grievance was submitted to arbitration on the issue of whether the grievant was rated in accordance with the parties' collective bargaining agreement. The Arbitrator determined that the grievant's appraisal was arbitrary and in violation of the parties' agreement. Specifically, he found, in agreement with the Union, that the Agency had not defined " timeliness" in the performance standards for GJT 1 so that the grievant's performance could be accurately evaluated. Moreover, he noted that the grievant's immediate supervisor was confused about the specific standards to be applied in measuring performance under GJT 1. In this regard, he determined that the supervisor had mistakenly applied the elements of another GJT relating to technical assistance on cases in rating her performance under GJT 1. He also agreed with the Union that her supervisor had used comparative standards, in violation of the parties' agreement. In other words, the supervisor had compared the grievant's GJT 1 performance with that of other employees' performance rather than with generic job task standards designed to specifically measure the adequacy of GJT 1 work. The Arbitrator finally found that the grievant's supervisor had erroneously evaluated her performance by considering the proportion of aged cases in her case backlog and by failing to recognize the extra work she performed. This last factor was crucial because it was the sole reason the grievant was not rated at a higher level for her performance of GJT 1 tasks. The Arbitrator then determined, primarily on the basis of the grievant's performance of extra claims adjudicator work, that the grievant's performance rating should have been rated at a higher level. Consequently, the Arbitrator sustained the grievance and as his award directed the Agency to "change its appraisal of grievant's performance on GJT 1 from level 2 to level 3 and to change its summary appraisal accordingly from fully satisfactory to excellent." III. EXCEPTION A. Contentions of the Agency As its exception the Agency contends that the award is contrary to section 7106(a)(2)(A) and (B) of the Statute. Specifically, the Agency argues that to the extent that the Arbitrator's award directs the invalidation of the grievant's performance rating, based upon his evaluation of the relative importance of job tasks and levels of achievement, it interferes with management's rights to assign work and direct employees by substituting his judgment regarding performance criteria for that of the Agency. The Agency maintains that, at most, the Arbitrator should have merely directed the Agency to reevaluate the grievant's performance and not have unilaterally changed it. B. Opposition of the Union In its opposition the Union contends that the Agency waived its rights to file exceptions to arbitrators' awards in expedited arbitrations and since this grievance was resolved under the expedited arbitration procedure it can not do so in this instance. The Union also asserts that the Agency misconstrues the basis for the Arbitrator's award. It maintains that the award was based primarily upon the Arbitrator's findings regarding the grievant'sperformance of extra work. Consequently, his award is not deficient and is within the purview of 5 U.S.C. Section 4302, relating to the establishment of performance appraisal systems, and the parties' contract. IV. ANALYSIS AND CONCLUSIONS Initially, we confirm that the Agency's exception is properly before the Authority for decision. We have previously addressed and rejected the Union's argument that under the parties' collective bargaining agreement, exceptions may not be filed to expedited arbitration awards. Social Security Administration and American Federation of Government Employees, Local 1923, 22 FLRA No. 66 (1986); Social Security Administration and American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, 16 FLRA 552 (1984). In recent decisions we have discussed in detail the role of an arbitrator in resolving disputes pertaining to performance appraisal matters. Federal Prison System, U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners and American Federation of Government Employees, Local 1612, 23 FLRA No. 53 (1986); Mare Island Naval Shipyard and International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, Local 11, AFL-CIO-CLC, 23 FLRA No. 32 (1986); Veterans Administration Hospital, Bath, New York and American Federation of Government Employees, Local 491, 22 FLRA No. 103 (1986) (and cases cited in the decision). We found that an arbitrator may resolve grievances over whether an employee was adversely affected in his or her performance appraisal by management's application of the established performance standards. An arbitrator may sustain the grievance on finding that management had not applied the standards which it established to the grievant or had applied the standards in violation of law, regulation, or an appropriate provision of the parties' collective bargaining agreement. In sustaining the grievance, the arbitrator may direct that the grievant's work product be properly evaluated. An arbitrator may not, however, substitute his or her own judgment for that of management in the exercise of the rights under section 7106(a)(2)(A) and (B) to direct employees and assign work as such rights pertain to matters of performance appraisal. In particular, an arbitrator may not substitute his or her own judgment for that of management as to what the grievant's evaluation and rating should be. We have also held that section 7106(a)(2)(A) and (B) encompasses the right to determine the methods to be used in evaluating employee work performance. American Federation of Government Employees, Local 1760, AFL-CIO and Department of Health and Human Services, Social Security Administration, 23 FLRA No. 21 (1986) (proposals 2-6).