U.S. Federal Labor Relations Authority

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49:1370(121)AR - - Intl. Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots and Panama Canal Commission - - 1994 FLRAdec AR - - v49 p1370

[ v49 p1370 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:

49 FLRA No. 121











June 10, 1994

The Union has filed exceptions to the award of Arbitrator Nancy D. Powers in the above-captioned case. On May 20, 1994, the Authority directed the Union to show cause why its exceptions should not be dismissed as untimely filed. The Union filed a timely response to the Authority's Order. For the reasons set out below, the Union's exceptions must be dismissed.

The time limit for filing exceptions to an arbitration award is 30 days beginning on the date the award is served on the filing party. 5 C.F.R. § 2425.1(b). The date of service is the date the arbitration award is deposited in the U.S. mail or is delivered in person. 5 C.F.R. § 2429.27(d). Absent evidence to the contrary, the date of the arbitration award is presumed to be the date of service of the award. See Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center, Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma and American Federation of Government Employees, Local No. 916, 32 FLRA 165, 167 (1988). If the award is served by mail, 5 days are added to the period for filing exceptions to the award. 5 C.F.R. § 2429.22. The time limit may not be extended or waived by the Authority. 5 C.F.R. § 2429.23(d).

The Arbitrator's award is dated March 18, 1994. Presuming that the award was deposited in the U.S. mail on that date, an exception to the award had to be either postmarked by the U.S. Postal Service or received in person at the Authority no later than April 25, 1994, in order to be considered timely. 5 C.F.R. §§ 2425.1(b), 2429.21(b), and 2429.22. The Union's exceptions were filed (postmarked) with the Authority on May 7, 1994.

The Union does not dispute that its exceptions had to be filed with the Authority on April 25, l994. The Union asserts only that its use of the Diplomatic Pouch, date stamped April 23, l994, should be recognized by the Authority as having met its April 25, l994, deadline. The documentation provided by the Union indicates that the use of the Department of State's Diplomatic Pouch system is an internal mail system.(*) The Authority has consistently held that a delay originating in an internal mail procedure does not establish extraordinary circumstances sufficient to warrant reconsideration of its decision to dismiss exceptions as untimely filed. See Department of the Army, Aberdeen Proving Ground and I.A.M. & A.W., Aberdeen Lodge No. 2424, 34 FLRA 521,523.

The Union does not dispute that its exceptions were filed (postmarked) on May 7, l994, 12 days after the time limit had expired. The Union offers no explanation for its failure to timely file its exceptions other than its use of the internal mail procedure.

Accordingly, as the time limit for filing exceptions may not be extended or waived by the Authority, the Union's exceptions are dismissed.

For the Authority.

Alicia N. Columna
Director, Case Control Office

(If blank, the decision does not have footnotes.)

*/ The Union has provided a Memorandum from the Chief of Administrative Services Division of the Panama Canal Commission. The memorandum states that employees working in the Republic of Panama are authorized to use the Department of State Diplomatic Pouch System to send and receive mail to and from the United States. The memorandum notes that northbound mail is not postmarked until after it has been received by USPS officials in Washington D.C. The memorandum does not indicate that the Department of State date stamp on the Diplomatic Pouch is accepted as a postmark by the U.S. Postal Service.