[ v51 p1609 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:
51 FLRA No. 131
FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY
INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRICAL WORKERS
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS
July 23, 1996
Before the Authority: Phyllis N. Segal, Chair; Tony Armendariz and Donald S. Wasserman, Members.
I. Statement of the Case
This case is before the Authority on an exception to an award of Arbitrator Harold L. Gangnath filed by the Union under section 7122(a)(2) of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (the Statute) and part 2425 of the Authority's Regulations. The Agency filed an opposition to the Union's exception.
The Arbitrator denied a grievance claiming that the Agency violated the parties' collective bargaining agreement by failing to assign the most qualified candidate to a job vacancy.
We conclude that the Union's exception fails to establish that the award is deficient under section 7122(a)(2) of the Statute. Accordingly, we deny the exception.
II. Arbitrator's Award
After denial of its grievance challenging the Agency's decision not to assign the grievant to a job vacancy, the Union invoked arbitration. The parties stipulated the following issue before the Arbitrator:
Did the employer violate Article thirteen (13) of the parties['] contract in awarding the lock operator position at the Wilson Lock to Jerry Holt, a lock and dam mechanic and, if so, what is the remedy?
Award at 2.(1)
Without elaborating, the Arbitrator determined that "[t]he management rights provisions of the agreement allow the [Agency] to make the decisions involved in this dispute." Award at 15.(2) Finding that the Agency did not violate the agreement, the Arbitrator ruled that no remedy was necessary.
III. Positions of the Parties
A. The Union
The Union argues that the award is deficient because it is not based on Article 13 of the agreement. According to the Union, the Agency should have assigned the grievant to the position on the basis of merit and fitness but instead considered all candidates to be equally qualified. As a result, the Union asserts, the Agency unnecessarily invoked the tie-breaker provision of Article 13 and assigned the less qualified candidate on the basis of seniority.
B. The Agency
The Agency argues that the Union has not demonstrated that the award fails to draw its essence from the agreement. According to the Agency, Authority case law supports the Arbitrator's interpretation; the Arbitrator's construction of the agreement is binding; and the Union is merely attempting to relitigate the case before the Authority.
IV. Analysis and Conclusion
We construe the Union's claim that the award is not based on Article 13 of the agreement as a claim that the award fails to draw its essence from the agreement. In order to prevail, the Union must establish 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; or (3) evidences a manifest disregard for the agreement; or (4) does not represent a plausible interpretation of the agreement. U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, D.C. and American Federation of Government Employees, Local 12, 34 FLRA 757, 761 (1990).
The Union has not demonstrated that the award fails any of these tests. The Arbitrator ruled, in effect, that Article 2 of the agreement reserves to the Agency the right to assess the qualifications of candidates seeking reassignment under Article 13. The Union has provided no argument that this interpretation disregards the agreement or is irrational, unfounded, or implausible. Accordingly, the Union has failed to establish that the award fails to draw its essence from the agreement.
The Union's exception is denied.
(If blank, the decision does not have footnotes.)
1. Article 13 states in pertinent part:
When a vacancy exists and the EMPLOYER is to fill [it], employees who are in a classification where a surplus of employees exists may be offered a lateral transfer. . . . If more than one qualified employee makes a request for lateral reassignment to the same position . . . the EMPLOYER shall make its selection on the basis of merit and fitness. All other factors being equal, first consideration will be given to length of . . . service[.]
Award at 7.
2. The management rights provisions of the agreement appear in Article 2, which states in pertinent part:
Management officials retain the right . . . to hire, assign . . . and retain employees . . . to assign work . . . to determine the personnel by which agency operations shall be conducted . . . [and] to make selections for appointments from . . . among properly ranked and certified candidates[.]
Award at 6.