48:0110(11)AR - - NAGE, Local R5-188 and Seymour Johnson AFB /// Dept. of the Air Force - - 1993 FLRAdec AR - - v48 p110

[ v48 p110 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:

48 FLRA No. 11





LOCAL R5-188










August 10, 1993


Before Chairman McKee and Members Talkin and Armendariz.

I. Statement of the Case

This case is before the Authority on an exception to an award of Arbitrator Fred Blackwell 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.

The Arbitrator denied a grievance claiming that the Agency violated Agency regulations and the parties' negotiated agreement when it abolished three civilian employee positions in a reduction-in-force action and thereafter assigned military personnel to perform the work.

For the following reasons, we conclude that the Union has failed to establish that the award is deficient. Accordingly, we will deny the exception.

II. Background and Arbitrator's Award

On October 21, 1991, the Agency carried out a reduction-in-force (RIF) and abolished three of ten civilian employee telephone switchboard operator positions. Subsequently, the Agency assigned existing military personnel to perform telephone switchboard duties on the weekends and during the week when it was necessary to cover a civilian who was on a break period. In January 1992, the Agency moved the remaining civilian telephone switchboard operators into the base communications and computer center, the location of the military personnel who were assigned the work of the civilian telephone switchboard operators.

On February 6, 1992, Robert Howett, who occupied one of the abolished telephone operator positions, filed a grievance alleging that the Agency had violated Air Force Regulation (AFR) 26-1, Volume II, Chapter 6, Section A, paragraph 6-3 and the negotiated agreement by abolishing his position and thereafter assigning military personnel to perform the work previously done by civilian telephone operators. As a remedy, Howett requested that the Agency reinstate two civilian telephone operator positions, remove the switchboard from the base communications and computer center, and pay him all lost wages.

When the grievance was not resolved, it was submitted to arbitration. The Arbitrator stated that the grievance raised two issues:

1. Whether the grievance should be barred from consideration on its merits due to the untimeliness and non-arbitrability of the grievance; and

2. Whether the Management violated the applicable Regulations and the parties' negotiated Agreement by assigning Military Personnel to perform the duties of Civilian Telephone Operator positions following the elimination of three (3) such positions in an October 1991, reduction-in-force at the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina.

Award at 8.

Initially, the Arbitrator found that the grievance was timely filed and that it was arbitrable.

On the merits of the case, the Arbitrator concluded that the evidence did not establish that the Agency violated AFR 26-1, paragraph 6-3 or the parties' negotiated agreement by using military personnel to perform switchboard duties previously performed by civilian employees subsequent to the reduction-in-force.(1) The Arbitrator examined the requirements of paragraph 6-3a of the regulation, which provides that the Agency may not add "military authorizations" when civilian authorizations have been deleted in a RIF, and found that no military authorizations had been added to either the switchboard operation or the base communications and computer center. The Arbitrator then examined paragraph 6-3b of the regulation, which provides that the Agency may not add "overage military personnel"(2) after a RIF, and found that overage military personnel had not been added to, or used to carry out the functions of, the switchboard operation or the base communications and computer center after the RIF. Accordingly, the Arbitrator found that the Agency had not violated the requirements of AFR 26-1, Volume II, paragraph 6-3a or b. Finally, the Arbitrator found that the functions of the switchboard operations and the base communications and computer center were supervised by the same individual. Based on that finding, the Arbitrator concluded that both functions were within the same organizational activity for purposes of paragraph 6-3c of the regulation.

The Arbitrator found that management's assignment of the tasks of the abolished civilian switchboard operator positions to military personnel "complied with all of the applicable requirements and standards in AFR 26-1, Volume II, paragraph 6-3, and . . . the negotiated Agreement." Award at 13. Accordingly, he denied the grievance.

III. Exception

The Union contends that the award is contrary to law, rule, regulation, and the parties' negotiated agreement. The Union argues that the Arbitrator did not address whether the Agency violated AFR 26-1, paragraph 6-1 or the second sentence of paragraph 6-3. The Union maintains that the Agency violated those provisions because "[t]here is no indication that the position of telephone operator requires military personnel for any of the reasons set forth in the regulations." Exception at 3. Next, the Union asserts that the Arbitrator erred in his interpretation of subparagraph 6-3b by finding that overage military personnel were not added to or used to carry out the functions of the abolished civilian employee positions. The Union argues that underutilized military personnel are performing the functions of the abolished civilian employee positions. Finally, the Union disagrees with the Arbitrator's finding that the military personnel and civilian employees were in the same organizational activity and that, therefore, military personnel could be assigned the tasks of the abolished civilian employee positions, in accordance with subparagraph 6-3c. In this regard, the Union maintains that because the swit