34:0640(109)AR - - Air Force, Scott AFB, IL and NAGE Local R7-23 - - 1990 FLRAdec AR - - v34 p640

[ v34 p640 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:

34 FLRA No. 109










January 29, 1990

Before Chairman McKee and Members Talkin and Armendariz.

I. Statement of the Case

This matter is before the Authority on exceptions to the award of Arbitrator Gladys W. Gruenberg filed by the National Association of Government Employees, Local R7-23 (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 Department of the Air Force (the Agency) did not file an opposition to the exceptions.

The Arbitrator denied the grievant's claim that she was entitled to a higher performance rating. The Union asserts that the award is contrary to law and regulation. For the following reasons, we deny the Union's exceptions.

II. Background and Arbitrator's Award

The grievant claimed that she was incorrectly rated on her performance as a secretary. The grievant was rated as "Exceeded" on three critical elements and "Met" on four critical elements, which resulted in an overall evaluation of "Fully Successful." She requested that the lower rating on four critical elements be raised to "Exceeded," which would give her an overall evaluation of "Excellent."

The Union filed a grievance on behalf of the grievant. The grievance was submitted to arbitration on the following issue:

Did the Employer violate the collective bargaining agreement by its performance rating of Grievant . . . for the period July 1, 1986 through June 30, 1987? If so, what is the remedy?

Award at 1.

The Union contended that the grievant's rating on four of seven critical elements was "not in compliance with law or regulations because it does not accurately and fairly rate her performance." Award at 3. The Union contended that the grievant was not counseled about her performance and charged that critical element 6S(b), which concerned the handling of classified documents, contained an impermissible absolute standard of no errors. The Union charged that the grievant was incorrectly rated on critical element 10, making travel arrangements for the supervisor, because the supervisor made his own travel arrangements. The Union also claimed that management implemented a quota system limiting the number of high ratings in violation of Federal regulations.

The Agency denied that the grievant was incorrectly rated and that it used a quota system to allocate high ratings. The Agency justified its use of an absolute standard for element 6S(b) on the basis that such a standard was "necessary for security purposes." Award at 3. The Agency contended that formal counseling was not necessary because the grievant was performing at a satisfactory, although not superior, level.

The Arbitrator ruled that management could require an absolute standard of no errors with regard to element 6S(b). She pointed out that "'breach of security' is one of the exceptions which exempts an absolute standard from the charge of abuse [of discretion]." Award at 4. Therefore, she concluded that the standard applied to the grievant was proper.

With respect to Element 10, the Arbitrator stated that the grievant's "supervisor testified that he made his evaluation based on how well [the grievant] had handled the few assignments [concerning travel arrangements] she had. There is nothing in the record to contradict his rating." Award at 4.

The Arbitrator found that the grievant was properly rated as having "Met" the standards for critical elements 2 and 4. Element 2 involves receiving and transmitting mail. Element 4 involves review of outgoing correspondence. The Arbitrator noted that the supervisor criticized the grievant's productivity as to both elements. The Arbitrator found that the supervisor's criticism was "corroborated by her rating of 6 (slightly above fully successful in the central range) for [Appraisal] Factor 6 Work Productivity and her rating of 6 for [Appraisal] Factor 9 Work Management." Award at 5. Appraisal factors are part of the grievant's performance appraisal. See Exceptions, Joint Exhibit 3. The Arbitrator noted that as to both elements, the grievant's supervisor cited the grievant's failure to keep up with the volume of correspondence. The Arbitrator concluded that "[she was] not convinced that the supervisor's judgment was unfair in this connection." Id.

The Arbitrator rejected the Union's contention that the grievant should have been rated higher on Elements 2 and 4 because the grievant had no errors in her performance. The Arbitrator stated that "[t]he error record is but one part of the evaluation, giving it a quantitative dimension, but that alone does not warrant an Exceeded rating since the supervisor is judging her positive performance. Mere lack of errors does not ensure an Excellent rating." Award at 5.

The Arbitrator agreed with the Agency that counseling was not necessary because there was no indication that the grievant was not meeting the minimum performance standards. The Arbitrator also found that the Agency did not impose an improper quota system "to keep ratings low, or specifically to downgrade the grievant's rating in derogation of her work performance." Award at 5.

The Arbitrator concluded that the Agency did not violate the collective bargaining agreement in rating the grievant's performance and denied the grievance.