49:0095(14)AR - - Army Reserve Personnel Center, St. Louis, MO and AFGE, Local 900 - - 1994 FLRAdec AR - - v49 p95
[ v49 p95 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:
49 FLRA No. 14
FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
U.S. ARMY RESERVE PERSONNEL CENTER
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI
AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES
February 17, 1994
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 Beryl M. Carlew 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's opposition was untimely filed and will not be considered in this decision.(1)
The Union filed a grievance alleging that the Agency untimely processed several performance awards earned by the grievant. The Arbitrator sustained the grievance and awarded the grievant a cash award and ordered that the grievant's two Quality Step Increases (QSIs) and her within-grade increase (WIGI) remain in effect. For the following reasons, we conclude that the Agency has failed to establish that the award is deficient. Therefore, we will deny the Agency's exceptions.
II. Background and Arbitrator's Award
In September 1990, the grievant received a performance appraisal of exceptional for the rating period of September 1989 to July 1990. On April 5, 1991, the grievant's supervisor nominated the grievant for a QSI for that rating period. In late April 1991, the Agency returned the nomination to the grievant's supervisor without action because the nomination failed to comply with the Agency's timeliness criterion (which provided that an award must be submitted within 60 days of the approval date of the rating) and the supervisor had failed to secure an appropriate waiver. In July or August 1991, the grievant's supervisor resubmitted the grievant's nomination for the QSI with a request that the time limit be waived.
On September 20, 1991, the Agency waived the 60-day time limit and approved the grievant's QSI for the September 1989 to July 1990 rating period. However, the Agency's computer system could not process the grievant's QSI because of the different fiscal years involved and "the issue was sent to [the Agency's] Dispute Resolution Board[.]"(2) Award at 7.
On November 21, 1991, the grievant was nominated and approved for a cash award for the period from September 1990 to September 1991. The recommendation for a cash award was subsequently changed to a recommendation for a second QSI. In December 1991, the grievant's WIGI became due and the recommendation for the second QSI was approved.
On January 7, 1992, based on the problems of processing the grievant's first QSI, the Agency offered the grievant a cash award of $642.00 in lieu of the first QSI. The Agency's offer would also have resulted in the grievant receiving a WIGI and the effectuation of her second QSI for the period from September 1990 to September 1991. The grievant rejected the Agency's offer.
Ultimately, the Agency processed both of the grievant's QSIs in May 1992. The effective dates of the QSIs were set retroactively to September 1991 and December 1991, respectively. The Agency did not process the cash award.
The Union filed a grievance on behalf of the grievant alleging that the Activity untimely processed the grievant's awards. The grievance was denied and submitted to arbitration. The parties stipulated to the following issues before the Arbitrator:
Did the Agency violate any law, rule, or regulation which would entitle the [g]rievant to any benefits, including any incentive award or [within grade] increase (WIGI)?
Id. at 1.
The Arbitrator found that the Agency's awards program "is to be administered within [Federal guidelines] and to be for the 'best interest of the employee.'" Id. at 8. The Arbitrator found that from the time the grievant's supervisor first nominated the grievant for an award on April 5, 1991, until the time of the arbitration hearing, the incentive awards program had not been administered in the best interest of the grievant. In this regard, the Arbitrator found that there was "an inordinately long time" between the initial nomination of the grievant for an award and the Agency's implementation of the award. Id. at 9. Specifically, the Arbitrator found that nothing had been done to effectuate the first QSI "for a period from [April 5, 1991, through] April 1993, a two (2) year period of time." Id. The Arbitrator stated that "[i]t is time that the employee receives her [c]ash [a]ward." Id. Therefore, the Arbitrator ordered that the Agency give the grievant a cash award of $642.00. The Arbitrator also ordered that the two QSIs and the WIGI "that are in place are to stay locked down." Id.
III. Agency's Exceptions
The Agency contends that the award is deficient because it violates a Government-wide regulation by granting the grievant a QSI and a performance award for the same rating period. According to the Agency, the FPM provides that a performance award and a QSI may be granted for the same time period only if the employee's performance was "so exceptional in one job aspect or assignment, or contributed so importantly to mission or national goals." Exceptions at 3, quoting FPM chapter 451, Incentive Awards, subchapter 6, Monetary Recognition for Performance, paragraph 6-3b(3). The Agency maintains that the Arbitrator did not find that the grievant met the "requirements for dual recognition as provided [for] in the FPM." Id. The Agency requests the Authority to set aside the portion of the award granting the grievant a performance award of $642.00.
The Agency also contends that the award violates an Agency regulation, Army Regulation (AR) 672-20, Incentive Awards, Chapter 6, Quality Step Increases, Subchapter 6-5c, which provides that "'[a]n employee may not receive a QSI if the employee has previously received a [p]erformance [a]ward based in whole or in part on the performance currently being recommended for recognition.'" Id. at 4. The Agency interprets the regulation