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The decision of the Authority follows:
43 FLRA No. 26
FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF AIRCRAFT
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY
NAVAL AVIATION DEPOT
November 25, 1991
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 Joseph Garbarino 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 to the Union's exception.
A grievance was filed alleging that the Agency acted improperly in filling a vacancy through a voluntary demotion. The Arbitrator denied the grievance. For the following reasons, we conclude that the Union's exception provides no basis for finding the award deficient. Accordingly, we will deny the exception.
II. Background and Arbitrator's Award
After the Agency announced two vacancies for Aircraft Examiner (Sheetmetal Mechanic) positions, an employee requested and was granted a voluntary demotion to one of the positions. The Union filed a grievance contending that the Agency violated the parties' collective bargaining agreement and the Agency's merit staffing plan by approving the demotion. The grievance was submitted to arbitration on the following stipulated issues:
(1) Is the issue arbitrable . . . ?
(2) Did the employer violate the negotiated agreement and the Merit Staffing Plan or other applicable regulations when [the employee] was voluntarily demoted to the aircraft examiner position? If so, what is the remedy?
Award at 1.
The Arbitrator held first that the grievance was arbitrable. The Arbitrator then determined that the issue centered on the interpretation of sections 4c and 5i of the merit staffing plan.(1) Based on his review of those sections, the Arbitrator found that the Agency's approval of the demotion was appropriate under section 4c and that section 5i "[did] not restrict the right granted to the [Agency]" in section 4c. Award at 10. The Arbitrator concluded that the Agency did not violate the parties' collective bargaining agreement or the merit staffing plan in effecting the demotion. Therefore, the Arbitrator denied the grievance.
III. The Union's Exception
The Union contends that the award fails to draw its essence from the parties' collective bargaining agreement. According to the Union, the Arbitrator "made a serious misreading of the merit staffing plan." Exception at 2. The Union asserts that section 4c of the plan does not apply in this case because the Agency effected the demotion after it had announced the vacancies and that section 5i does not apply because the demotion was voluntary.
IV. Analysis and Conclusions
To demonstrate that an award fails to draw its essence from a collective bargaining agreement, a party must show that the award: (1) cannot in any rational way be derived from the agreement; or (2) is so unfounded in reason and fact, and so unconnected with the wording and purpose of the agreement, as to manifest an infidelity to the obligation of the arbitrator; and (3) evidences a manifest disregard for the interpretation of the agreement; or (4) does not represent a plausible interpretation of the agreement. See U.S. Department of the Air Force, Ogden Air Logistics Center, Hill Air Force Base and American Federation of Government Employees, Local 1592, 40 FLRA 1243, 1246-47 (1991).
The Union has not demonstrated that the award fails to draw its essence from the parties' agreement under any of these tests.(2) The Arbitrator found, based on his interpretation of the parties' agreement, that the Agency did not act improperly in effecting the disputed voluntary demotion in this case. The Union has not shown that the Arbitrator's interpretation of the agreement is irrational, implausible, or unconnected to the wording and purpose of the agreement. Instead, the exception constitutes mere disagreement with the Arbitrator's interpretation and application of the agreement. Such disagreement provides no basis for finding the award deficient. See, for example, U.S. Department of the Air Force, McClellan Air Force Base, California and International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, Local 220, 40 FLRA 968, 971-72 (1991).
The Union's exception is denied.
(If blank, the decision does not have footnotes.)
1. Those sections provide:
4. Actions in Lieu of Competitive Procedures. Management retains the right to take the following action in lieu of announcing vacancies:
. . . .
c. Reassignments or demotions of employees to positions with no higher potential than the currently held position.
. . . .
5. Exceptions to Competitive Actions. The following actions will not require competitive procedures:
. . . .
i. The position change (either reassignment, demotion, promotion or transfer) of an employee to a position having no higher promotion potential than that held or previously held on a permanent basis in the competitive service (except when demoted for cause or at employee's own request).
2/ Consistent with the Union's exception and in the absence of an assertion to the contrary, we assume that the merit staffing plan has been incorporated in the parties' collective bargaining agreement.