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32:0165(25)AR - - Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center, Tinker AFB, OK and AFGE Local 916 - - 1988 FLRAdec AR - - v32 p165

[ v32 p165 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:

32 FLRA No. 25






Case No. 0-AR-1498


I. Statement of the Case

This case is before the Authority on exceptions to two awards of Arbitrator I. B. Helburn filed by the Union under section 7122(a) of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (the Statute) and part 2425 of the Authority's Rules and Regulations. The Agency did not file an opposition.

The first award, dated November 15, 1987, concerns absence without leave (AWOL) charges against four grievants. We dismiss the exceptions to the first award on the ground that they are untimely filed.

The second award, dated January 4, 1988, concerns disciplinary action taken against the same grievants. The Arbitrator found that the disciplinary action taken against each employee was proper and in accordance with the parties' contract and applicable regulations and law. We find that the Union has not established that the award is deficient and deny the exceptions.

II. Background and Arbitrator's Awards

On June 24, 1987, employees Mitchum, Wilson, Merritt, and Statham were charged with varying amounts of AWOL from work. Each employee grieved the action taken by the Agency and the matter was submitted to arbitration.

Subsequently, the Agency proposed to suspend these same employees for 1 day because: (1) they were AWOL from work on June 24, 1987; and (2) they demonstrated "wanton disregard of proper direction from {their} . . . supervisor" on that date when they allegedly refused to comply with their supervisor's request that they return to work after their break had ended. Arbitrator's Award of January 4, 1988 at 1. Grievant Statham's suspension was subsequently reduced to a written reprimand. The other three grievants received 1-day suspensions. Grievances were also filed and submitted to arbitration concerning the disciplinary actions.

As to the grievances pertaining to the AWOL charges, the Arbitrator, in his award of November 15, 1987, denied employee Statham's grievance and denied the grievances of employees Mitchum, Wilson, and Merritt. However, the Arbitrator reduced the amount of time charged to AWOL by 5 minutes in each case.

As to the grievances concerning the proposed disciplinary action, the parties stipulated the issue to the Arbitrator as: (1) Was the level of penalty taken proper and in accordance with the Master Labor Agreement and all applicable regulations and law? (2) If not, what should the remedy be?

In his award dated January 4, 1988, the Arbitrator noted that the AWOL issue had been ruled on previously in the November 15, 1987, award and required no further discussion. Based on the findings of the November 15 award, which involved the same facts, the Arbitrator found that the evidence supported the charge of wanton disregard of supervisory orders. He found that the evidence showed that the grievants, after being AWOL for varying amounts of time, refused to comply with their temporary supervisor's request to return to work, even though the afternoon break had ended; that the grievants returned to work about 15 minutes later, but only after initially refusing to return; and that their refusal was witnessed by other employees. The Arbitrator, therefore, found that the grievants' conduct constituted a wanton disregard of direction from their temporary supervisor.

Based on the AWOL charges and the finding of wanton disregard of supervisory orders, the Arbitrator concluded that the disciplinary action against the grievants was consistent with the parties' contract and all applicable regulations, including Air Force Regulation (AFR) 40-750, and law. Consequently, he denied the grievances.

III. Positions of the Parties

The Union claims that the Arbitrator's awards violate the parties' agreement as well as applicable Air Force regulations, including AFR 40-750, because the disciplinary action taken against the grievants was not for just cause, and was not otherwise in accordance with those regulations.(*)

The Agency did not file an opposition.

IV. Discussion

A. The November 15, 1987 Award

In the absence of evidence to the contrary, the Arbitrator's award dated November 15, 1987, appears to have been served on the parties by mail on that day. Under section 7122(b) of the Statute and sections 2425.1, 2429.1, and 2429.22 of the Authority's Rules and Regulations, exceptions to that award had to be postmarked no later than December 21, 1987, in order to be timely filed.

The instant exceptions were postmarked February 3, 1988. Accordingly, we find that insofar as the Union's exceptions relate to the November 15, 1987 award, they are untimely and, therefore, must be dismissed.

B. The January 4, 1988 Award

We conclude that the Union has failed to establish that the Arbitrator's January 4, 1988 award is deficient on any of the grounds set forth in section 7122(a) of the Statute; that is, that the award is contrary to any law, rule, or regulation or that the award is deficient on other grounds similar to those applied by Federal courts in private sector labor-management relations cases. The Union's arguments constitute nothing more than disagreement with the Arbitrator's findings of fact, reasoning and conclusions, and with his interpretation and application of the parties' agreement, law and regulation. Such disagreement provides no basis for finding an award deficient. See, for example, U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and National Border Patrol Council, AFGE 1929, 29 FLRA 1177 (1987); Air Force Logistics Command, Tinker Air Force Base and American Federation of Government Employees, Local Union 916, Council 214, 27 FLRA 112 (1987).

V. Decision

The Union's exceptions pertaining to the Arbitrator's award of November 15, 1987, are dismissed. The exceptions pertaining to the award of January 4, 1988, are denied.

Issued, Washington, D.C.,

Jerry L. Calhoun, Chairman
Jean McKee, Member

(If blank, the decision does not have footnotes.)

*/ In its exceptions, the Union refers to a grievant named Russell Brown. Union Exceptions at 17. However, we note that only four grievants as named above are mentioned in the Arbitrator's award. Since the Arbitrator's award does not address any matter pertaining to this individual, the exceptions as they relate to Russell Brown will not be addressed.