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The decision of the Authority follows:
42 FLRA No. 65
Before Chairman McKee and Members Talkin and Armendariz.
I. Statement of the Case
This matter is before the Authority on an exception to an award 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 filed an opposition to the exception.
The Agency downgraded the classification of certain positions. After new position descriptions were approved, the original classification was reinstated. The Union filed a grievance claiming that employees were due backpay for the period of the downgrade. The Arbitrator denied the grievance.
We conclude that the Union fails to establish that the award is deficient. Accordingly, we will deny the exception.
II. Background and Arbitrator's Award
In 1988, the headquarters of the Agency informed the Agency that the positions held by 26 WD-6 aircraft mechanics did not meet the criteria for the WD pay system and would have to be converted to the general schedule. In order to minimize the adverse impact on employees, the Agency converted the positions to GS-9 (a grade of lesser pay than WD-6) for 1 day. The Agency then reorganized so that 14 former temporary WD-6 positions were reclassified as WG-11 positions (a grade of more pay than GS-9, but less pay than WD-6). The Union filed a grievance on behalf of all 26 WD-6 employees. After a number of employees withdrew from the grievance, the grievance covered the 14 employees in the temporary WD-6 positions that were reclassified. On April 4, 1989, the Union requested arbitration.
In June 1989, the parties entered into a settlement agreement of the grievance. The Agency essentially agreed to approve new position descriptions for these positions and convert them to the WD classification, and the Union agreed to withdraw its grievance. In July 1989, the headquarters of the Agency ordered that the conversion of these positions be held in abeyance. On October 4, 1989, the Union took steps to pursue the grievance to arbitration. Later in October, the headquarters of the Agency authorized the Agency to proceed with the conversion of the positions on a temporary basis. In January 1990, the headquarters authorized the Agency to make the conversion to WD-6 permanent. Nonetheless, the Union continued to claim that the settlement agreement had not been properly implemented and that employees were due backpay. The matter was not resolved and was submitted to arbitration.
The Arbitrator first rejected the Agency's claim that the grievance was precluded by section 7121(c)(5) of the Statute because the grievance concerned classification of a position. The Arbitrator noted that section 7121(c)(5) does not preclude grievances over classification when the classification has resulted in the reduction in grade or pay of an employee. Consequently, the Arbitrator ruled that the grievance was not precluded by the Statute because the grievants had suffered a reduction in pay within the meaning of section 7121(c)(5).
On the merits, the Arbitrator denied the grievance. He found that the Union had failed to meet its burden of proof. He stated that the Union failed to provide evidence that would allow him to make an informed judgment about whether the skills of the grievants and the work they performed were consistent with the requirements of the WD classification. Moreover, he found that the order of the headquarters of the Agency to reclassify the WD-6 positions was consistent with applicable law, regulations, and the parties' collective bargaining agreement. Accordingly, he ruled that there was no unjustified or unwarranted personnel action and that, therefore, no backpay or other remedy was warranted.
III. Positions of the Parties
The Union contends that the award is deficient because "all evidence was not reviewed" and because "witnesses [sic] testimony clearly stated the reasons for the unwarranted and unjustified personnel action." Exception at 1. The Union asserts that a witness testified that the downgrading was based on false and misleading information. The Union further asserts that all union witnesses and several agency witnesses testified that the WD-6 position descriptions and the duties being performed by the grievants never changed. Consequently, the Union claims that, contrary to the finding of the Arbitrator, the Agency committed an unjustified and unwarranted personnel action that entitled the grievants to backpay.
The Agency contends that the Union's exception constitutes nothing more than disagreement with the Arbitrator's findings of fact and provides no basis for finding the award deficient.
IV. Analysis and Conclusions
We will find an arbitration award deficient under section 7122(a) of the Statute if the award is contrary to any law, rule, or regulation or on other grounds similar to those applied by Federal courts in private sector labor relations cases. American Federation of Government Employees, Local 987 and U.S. Department of the Air Force, Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, Robins Air Force, Base, Georgia, 41 FLRA 1409 (1991).
In this case, we conclude that the Union's exception provides no basis for finding the award deficient under section 7122(a) of the Statute. In our view, the Union's contentions that all the evidence was not reviewed and that testimony clearly established an unjustified or unwarranted personnel action constitute nothing more than disagreement with the Arbitrator's findings of fact and his evaluation of the evidence and testimony and an attempt to relitigate the merits of the case before the Authority. As such, the exception provides no basis for finding the award deficient under the Statute. See National Gallery of Art and American Federation of Government Employees, Local 1831, 39 FLRA 226, 235 (1991).
Accordingly, we will deny the Union's exception.
The Union's exception is denied.
(If blank, the decision does not have footnotes.)