45:0106(10)AR - - AFGE Local 1923 and HHS, SSA, Baltimore, MD - - 1992 FLRAdec AR - - v45 p106
[ v45 p106 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:
45 FLRA No. 10
Before Chairman McKee and Members Talkin and Armendariz.
I. Statement of the Case
This matter is before the Authority on exceptions to an award of Arbitrator Fred Blackwell 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 Union filed a grievance seeking overtime compensation for 18 grievants who allegedly were improperly assigned to shifts requiring them to work more than 40 hours per week without overtime pay. The Arbitrator sustained the grievance and awarded backpay for uncompensated overtime.
For the following reasons, we conclude that the Arbitrator's award is deficient under section 7122(a) of the Statute. Accordingly, we will set aside the award.
II. Background and Arbitrator's Award
In August 1986, the 18 grievants were transferred to the Agency from another Federal agency. Both before and after their transfers, the grievants worked the same rotating shift, requiring them to work periods of 7 and 6 consecutive days. Neither the Agency nor the prior employer paid the grievants overtime based on that schedule. However, the grievants received night differential pay, Sunday premium pay, and holiday pay, as appropriate.
In June 1990, the Union filed a grievance alleging that management failed to assign the grievants to a basic workweek of 5 consecutive 8-hour workdays, Monday through Friday, as required by the parties' agreement, and improperly denied the grievants appropriate overtime.1/ As a remedy, the Union sought backpay, including interest on all overtime, differentials, and/or premium pay. When the grievance was not resolved, it was submitted to arbitration.
The Arbitrator defined the issue as follows:
[W]hether the [g]rievants are entitled to backpay for unpaid overtime that should have been paid due to [g]rievants regularly working a basic workweek of more than five consecutive 8-hour workdays by virtue of their being assigned by the Agency to weekly rotating shifts comprised of seven (7) days on-two (2) off, seven days on-two off, and six (6) days on-four (4) off.
If so, what shall the remedy be?
Award at 15.
The Arbitrator determined, as relevant here, that the "central question" before him was whether the grievants' shift assignments, under which the grievants "did not work more than five (5) days in any administrative workweek[,]" were consistent with the parties' agreement and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).2/ Id. at 18-19. The Arbitrator found, in this regard, that the grievants' Sunday through Saturday administrative workweek was authorized by Office of Personnel Management (OPM) regulations3/ and Article 10, Section 1A of the parties' agreement. Id. at 19. However, the Arbitrator decided that the FLSA was "paramount to the authorities authorizing the Agency's establishment of the administrative workweek . . . and that . . . Article 10, Section 1B  remains operative notwithstanding the existence of the Agency administrative workweek/basic workweek."4/ Id.
The Arbitrator found that the Agency's administrative workweek "conflicts sharply" with 29 C.F.R. § 778.104, a Department of Labor (DOL) regulation implementing the FLSA.5/ Id. at 20. The Arbitrator stated that the conflict between "the workweek defined by the . . . DOL regulation" and the Agency's administrative/basic workweek, "is self-evident." Id. at 21.
Based on the foregoing, the Arbitrator found that the disputed shift assignments and denial of overtime pay violated the parties' agreement, the FLSA, and 29 C.F.R. § 778.104. He held that the shift assignments constituted an unwarranted personnel action which resulted in the reduction in overtime compensation which the grievants would have received "but for the said violations and unwarranted personnel action." Id. at 23. As his award, the Arbitrator sustained the grievance and directed the Agency to "pay appropriate backpay to [g]rievants for all overtime improperly denied during the grievance period." Id.
III. Agency's Exceptions
The Agency asserts that the award: (1) is contrary to 29 U.S.C § 207(a)(1) and OPM regulations implementing the FLSA in the Federal sector;6/ and (2) conflicts with applicable case law, particularly Sanford v. Weinberger, 752 F.2d 636 (Fed. Cir. 1985). The Agency contends that the Arbitrator could not properly award backpay because of his finding that the grievants worked no more than 40 hours in any administrative workweek.
IV. Union's Opposition
The Union argues that the Agency's exceptions constitute an attempt "to re-arbitrate the merits of this case" before the Authority. Opposition at 9.
V. Analysis and Conclusions
An arbitration award is deficient under section 7122(a) of the Statute if the award is contrary to any law, rule, or regulation. U.S. Department of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Washington, D.C. and American Federation of Government Employees, National Immigration and Naturalization Council, 44 FLRA 343 (1992). For the following reasons, we find that the backpay award is inconsistent with 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1) and 5 C.F.R. § 551.501(a) and (b).
Under 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1), employees may not be employed for more than 40 hours "in any workweek" unless they are compensated at one and one-half times their normal rate for any work in excess of 40 hours. 5 C.F.R. § 551.501(a) restates the requirements of 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1).7/ 5 C.F.R. § 551.501(b) defines an employee's "workweek" as a fixed and recurring period of 168 hours, or seven consecutive 24-hour periods, and states that this "workweek" is the same as the "administrative workweek" defined in 5 C.