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37:0379(24)AR - - Veterans Affairs, Medical Center, Buffalo, NY and SEIU Local 200-C - - 1990 FLRAdec AR - - v37 p379

[ v37 p379 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:

37 FLRA No. 24













September 20, 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 Mary M. Helenbrook 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. The Union filed an opposition to the Agency's exceptions.

The Arbitrator found that the grievant, a GS-4 pharmacy program clerk, performed the duties of a GS-5 secretary/stenographer position between April 25 and August 4, 1988, and, therefore, was entitled to receive a temporary promotion and backpay for that period.

For the following reasons, we conclude that the Arbitrator's award is ambiguous as to whether the grievant was qualified for the GS-5 position. Accordingly, we will remand the award to the parties for the purpose of requesting the Arbitrator to clarify the matter.

II. Background and Arbitrator's Award

The grievant is a GS-4 pharmacy program clerk. On April 25, 1988, the grievant was moved from her work area at the back of the pharmacy to a vacant secretary's desk at the front of the pharmacy. The grievant remained at the secretary's desk until August 4. The secretary's position remained vacant during the time the grievant performed her duties at the secretary's desk.

The Union filed a grievance on November 28, 1988, alleging that the Agency violated Article XXVI, Section 4, of the parties' collective bargaining agreement by detailing the grievant from her GS-4 program clerk position to a GS-5 secretary/stenographer position. The Union requested that the grievant be compensated at the GS-5 rate for the duties she performed between April 25 and August 4, 1988.

In her award, the Arbitrator noted the following pertinent sections of the parties' collective bargaining agreement:

Article XXVI. Promotions and Demotions

Section 4. An employee detailed to a higher rated position or to a position at a higher representative rate shall be temporarily promoted if the period involved exceeds 30 consecutive calendar days during any calendar year; but in no event shall an employee be detailed for a period that exceeds 30 days in any calendar year without being compensated for the higher graded position. . . .

Article XXIII. Detailing

The Employer and Union recognize the necessity for meeting manpower needs occasioned by the absence of regular assigned employees, increased work loads, resignations, etc., by detailing employees for short periods, usually on a day-to-day basis.

Definition: For the purpose of this article, detailing is defined as requiring an employee for the purposes indicated above to perform duties the same or similar to those regularly assigned, usually at a different location from where he normally performs his assigned duties.

Award at 2.

As relevant here, the Arbitrator framed the issue as follows: "Was the grievant . . . detailed out of her classification from a GS-4 to a GS-5?" Award at 8.

The Arbitrator concluded that "[a]ll the necessary elements of a detailing situation are met in the instant case." Id. The Arbitrator found that during the time the secretary position was vacant, other employees, including pharmacists and technicians, performed duties in addition to their regular duties. The Arbitrator stated that "[s]urely, if other personnel, such as pharmacists and technicians, were doing extra duty, then the grievant must also have been." Id.

The Arbitrator also found that many of the duties of the GS-4 program clerk position and the GS-5 secretary position overlap, and that the grievant's presence at the secretary's desk necessitated performance of many secretarial duties. In particular, the Arbitrator noted that, after the grievant moved to the secretary's desk, the grievant was designated as Unit Timekeeper, which is a secretarial function. Finally, the Arbitrator found that another employee, who performed temporary secretarial duties similar to those performed by the grievant, was considered to be a secretary by the Agency.

The Arbitrator acknowledged that the Agency had not formally detailed the grievant to the secretarial position, and that there was no "evidence to show that [the grievant] was fully qualified to handle the complete secretarial job function." Id. at 10. However, the Arbitrator concluded that the grievant undertook a sufficient degree of the secretarial work load between April 25 and August 4, 1988, "to justify the GS-5 ranking and compensation." Id.

III. Agency's Exceptions

The Agency excepts to the Arbitrator's award on three bases. The Agency contends first that "[t]he Arbitrator's award is contrary to law in directing that the grievant be retroactively temporarily promoted with back pay to a position for which she did not meet minimum qualification requirements." Agency's Exceptions at 2. The Agency maintains that employees are required to meet minimum qualification requirements for positions to which they are promoted temporarily.

As its second exception, the Agency contends that "[t]he [Arbitrator's] award in this case is unsupported by the evidence adduced at the hearing." Id. at 3. The Agency also argues that the Arbitrator's award "ignores the clear language of the agreement defining detailing as requiring the grievant in this case to perform the same or similar duties to those regularly assigned to the GS-5 position of Secretary/Stenographer." Id. at 5. The Agency asserts that the Arbitrator's "own analysis of the evidence results in findings not that the grievant was performing duties the same or similar to a GS-5 Secretary/Stenographer, but that she was specifically not performing all of those duties." Id.

Finally, the Agency contends that the Arbitrator's award "constitutes an effective determination of classification of the grievant's position for the period at issue, and thereby is contrary to law as violative of the provisions of 5 USC 7121(c)(5)." Id. The Agency contends that "the Arbitrator's determination is not based upon a factual finding of whether the grievant did or did not perform the duties of the GS-5 position during the period at issue, but is rather based upon the Arbitrator's judgement of the 'degree of job responsibility involved.'" Id. The Agency requests that the award "be stricken on grounds that the Arbitrator exceeded her authority in undertaking to determine the classification of the grievant's position, which is a non-grievable issue" under section 7121(c)(5) of the Statute. Id. at 6.

IV. Union's Opposition

The Union asserts that the record does not establish that the grievant "failed to meet minimum qualification requirements for the GS-5 position." Union's Opposition at 1. The Union states that the issue was not addressed at the hearing and that the Arbitrator's award does not indicate that the grievant either did or did not meet the minimum qualification requirements. The Union also asserts that the Agency's second exception, that the Arbitrator's award is not supported by the evidence produced at the hearing, constitutes nothing more than the Agency's disagreement with the Arbitrator's finding that the grievant was performing the duties of the GS-5 position.

Finally, the Union asserts that the Arbitrator's award did not constitute a classification determination. The Union argues that the GS-5 position had already been classified by the Agency and that the Arbitrator simply characterized the distinctions between the GS-4 and GS-5 positions to determine which was performed by the grievant. The Union asserts that "[s]uch an approach is well within the arbitrator's allowable discretion." Union's Opposition at 1.

V. Analysis and Conclusion

1. The Agency Has Not Demonstrated That the Arbitrator's Award Is Unsupported By the Evidence at the Hearing

The Agency has not established that the award is deficient because the Arbitrator disregarded the evidence presented at the hearing. In our view, the exception constitutes mere disagreement with the Arbitrator's findings and conclusions based on the evidence presented at arbitration. Disagreement with an arbitrator's evaluation of evidence and conclusions based thereon provides no basis for finding an award deficient. See, for example, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Greensboro, North Carolina and American Federation of Government Employees, Local 3409, 33 FLRA 81 (1988). Accordingly, this exception provides no basis for finding the award deficient.

2. The Arbitrator's Award Does Not Concern A Classification Issue

Section 7121(c)(5) of the Statute provides that matters concerning the classification of a position which do not result in the reduction in grade or pay of an employee are excluded from the scope of a grievance procedure negotiated under the Statute. A classification issue arises where the substance of a grievance concerns the grade level of duties assigned to and performed by the grievant. See Social Security Administration and American Federation of Government Employees, Local 1923, AFL-CIO, 31 FLRA 933, 936 (1988); Social Security Administration, Baltimore, Maryland and American Federation of Government Employees, Local 1923, Baltimore, Maryland, 20 FLRA 694, 695 (1985).

Further, the classification of a position, as defined in 5 C.F.R. § 511.101(c), involves "the analysis and identification of a position and placing it in a class under the position-classification plan established by OPM under chapter 51 of title 5, United States Code." A position is defined in 5 C.F.R. § 511.101(e) as "the work, consisting of the duties and responsibilities, assigned by competent authority for performance by an employee." See Lexington-Blue Grass Army Depot and International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, Local 859, 32 FLRA 256, 258-59 (1988).

We disagree with the Agency's contention that the Arbitrator's award violates section 7121(c)(5) of the Statute because it concerns a position classification issue. The grievant did not claim, and the Arbitrator did not find, that her position should be reclassified because she performed duties at a higher grade. The grievant only requested compensation, pursuant to a temporary promotion, for the period at issue. The Arbitrator did not reclassify the grievant's position; the Arbitrator merely compared the duties of the GS-5 and GS-4 positions, as already classified by the Agency. Based on the comparison between already classified duties, the Arbitrator concluded that the grievant was entitled to be compensated for the difference between a GS-4 position and a GS-5 position for the period from April 25 to August 4, 1988.

3. The Grievant's Qualifications To Be Promoted To The GS-5 Position Were Not Established

For an employee to be properly promoted, whether temporarily or permanently, the employee must meet the minimum qualification requirements for the position to which the employee is to be promoted. See Hill Air Force Base, Utah and American Federation of Government Employees, Local No. 1592, 30 FLRA 6, 7-8 (1987). Although a parties' collective bargaining agreement may entitle an employee to be temporarily promoted to a higher-graded position, a grievant must meet the minimum qualification requirements for the higher-graded position in order to receive the temporary promotion. See, for example, Veterans Administration, V.A. Medical Center, Muskogee, Oklahoma and American Federation of Government Employees, Local 2250, 20 FLRA 441, 442-43 (1985).

In this case, the Arbitrator found that there was no "evidence to show she [the grievant] was fully qualified to handle the complete secretarial job function." Award at 10. Therefore, whether the grievant met the minimum qualification requirements for the GS-5 position is uncertain. Without a determination as to the grievant's qualifications for the GS-5 position, we cannot determine whether the Arbitrator's award is deficient. Accordingly, it is necessary to remand the award to the parties for the purpose of seeking a clarification from the Arbitrator as to whether the grievant was qualified for the temporary promotion to the GS-5 position.

VI. Decision

The award is remanded to the parties for the purpose of requesting that the Arbitrator clarify her award as to whether the grievant was qualified for the temporary promotion to the GS-5 position.

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