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32:0169(26)AR - - AFGE Local 1786 and Marine Corps Development and Education Command, Civilian Personnel Division - - 1988 FLRAdec AR - - v32 p169

[ v32 p169 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:

32 FLRA No. 26








Case No. 0-AR-1485


I. Statement of the Case

This matter is before the Authority on exceptions to the award of Arbitrator John H. Fanning 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 filed an opposition to the Union's exceptions.

The Arbitrator found no basis in law, regulation, or the parties' negotiated agreement to overturn the Agency's decision removing the grievant from an upward mobility position, and he denied the grievance. For the following reasons, we deny the Union's exceptions.

II. Background and the Arbitrator's Award

The grievant applied for and was placed in an upward mobility position leading to a target position of Electrician's Helper. In addition to on-the-job training, the grievant was required to complete four correspondence courses over a 2-year period. The vacancy announcement for the position stated that a selectee who failed to complete the training plan within 2 years may be returned to his or her former position or a comparable position at the same grade and salary levels. After failing to complete the last course required by the training plan, entitled "Electricity (Alternating Currents)," the grievant was removed from the upward mobility program and reassigned to his former position at no loss of pay.

The grievant did not dispute the fact that he failed to complete the course, or that it was required for successful completion of the program. Rather, he contended that the course was not necessary for the target position of Electrician's Helper and that he should be reinstated in the position because he passed the other three courses.

The Arbitrator stated the issue as whether the Agency acted unreasonably in requiring the grievant to take the course in order to qualify as an Electrician's Helper. The Arbitrator concluded that the Agency had the discretion to determine the training needs of its employees. As to the Electrician's Helper position, he found that the job description required knowledge of electrical systems, devices, and equipment and that the job description was part of the Upward Mobility agreement and training plan.

The Arbitrator also found that the Upward Mobility agreement and training plan included details concerning work on electrical motors, repair work, installation and the required courses. The Arbitrator noted that the actual duties of individual Helper positions vary depending on how the position is used by the Master Electrician in charge and that it was reasonable for the Agency to give a prospective Helper some common, required training, including the course in question. He also noted that the Agency intended Electrician's Helpers to progress into Journeyman Electrician positions. Finally, he found that when the grievant entered into the Upward Mobility agreement and the training plan, he was fully aware of these requirements and that the grievant accepted them by signing a continuing service agreement with the Agency.

The Arbitrator found that the Agency had not acted arbitrarily and capriciously or abused its training authority in requiring the employee to take the course in question. The Arbitrator also found that there were no mitigating circumstances explaining the grievant's failure to complete the course. He, therefore, determined that there was no basis in law, regulation, or the parties' negotiated agreement to conclude that the Agency improperly required the grievant to take the course or improperly removed the grievant for failing to complete that course. Accordingly, he dismissed the grievance.

III. Positions of the Parties

The Union contends that the Arbitrator did not comprehend or give due consideration to the facts and issue involved in the grievance. The Union also asserts that because the grievant's training agreement specifically imposed educational requirements, the award conflicts with Federal Personnel Manual (FPM) Letter 338-9, Attachment 2, Section 3b(2), which provides that a "training agreement cannot impose any form of positive education requirements except those already required by published qualification standards governing the trainee or target position[.]" The Union interprets this portion of the FPM as precluding the Agency from requiring the grievant to take the course. Finally, the Union contends that the Arbitrator overlooked violations of various, unspecified Federal and Agency regulations.

The Agency asserts that the Union's exceptions constitute nothing more than disagreement with the Arbitrator's findings and conclusions. The Agency also argues that the Union has failed to show how the award conflicts with the FPM. Specifically, the Agency contends that the Union misinterpreted the specific section of the FPM referenced in its exceptions.

IV. Discussion

We conclude that the Union has not established that the Arbitrator's award is deficient on any of the grounds set forth in section 7122(a) of the Statute.

The Union's contentions that the Arbitrator failed to consider the facts and issue involved in the grievance and failed to consider unspecified regulations do not demonstrate that the award is deficient on any of the grounds set forth in section 7122(a) of the Statute. These contentions constitute nothing more than disagreement with the Arbitrator's findings and conclusions and, therefore, provide no basis for finding the award deficient. See, for example, Metropolitan Correctional Center and American Federation of Government Employees, Local 3652, 31 FLRA 1059 (1988) (exceptions which constitute nothing more than disagreement with the Arbitrator's findings of fact, reasoning, and conclusions and which constitute an attempt to relitigate the merits of the grievance do not provide a basis for setting the award aside).

As to the Union's argument that the award violates FPM Letter 338-9, we agree with the Agency that the Union has misinterpreted this portion of the FPM Letter. The FPM Letter precludes the imposition of a "positive educational requirement" on an employee where such a requirement is not part of the job qualification for the target position. A "positive educational requirement" is defined to include all formal schooling whether at grade school, high school, or college level. See, for example, FPM, Chapter 338, Subchapter 4-1(a) and (b). Therefore, this provision is inapplicable in this case.

Accordingly, we conclude that the Union's exceptions do not provide a basis on which to find that the award is deficient under section 7122 of the Statute.

V. Decision

The Union's exceptions are denied.

Issued, Washington, D.C.,

Jerry L. Calhoun, Chairman
Jean McKee, Member

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