Association of Civilian Technicians, Puerto Rico Army Chapter (Union) and U.S. Department of Defense, National Guard Bureau, Puerto Rico National Guard, San Juan, Puerto Rico (Agency)

[ v56 p807 ]

56 FLRA No. 135





(56 FLRA 493 (2000))



September 29, 2000


Before the Authority: Donald S. Wasserman, Chairman and Dale Cabaniss, Member.

I.     Statement of the Case

      This case is before the Authority on the Union's motion for reconsideration of the Authority's order dismissing the Union's petition for review of Provision 2 in Association of Civilian Technicians, Puerto Rico Army Chapter and U.S. Department of Defense, National Guard Bureau, Puerto Rico National Guard, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 56 FLRA 493 (2000) (Puerto Rico National Guard). [n1]  The Agency did not file an opposition to the Union's motion.

      For the reasons that follow, we deny the Union's motion.

II.     Decision in 56 FLRA 493

      In Puerto Rico National Guard, the Authority found that the provision is contrary to law because "no authority exists for agencies to use appropriated funds to reimburse employees for purely personal expenses involved in the planning of leave." Id. at 497. In coming to that conclusion, the Authority applied Comptroller General decisions holding that purely personal expenses, such as forfeited hotel room deposits, dependent's travel costs and increased costs for alternate flight reservations, may not be reimbursed upon the cancellation of approved annual leave. See Earl J. Barlow, Comp. Gen. Decision B-241249 (1991); John W. Keys, 60 Comp. Gen. 629 (1981).

III.     Motion for Reconsideration

      As a preliminary matter, the Union argues that this case warrants reconsideration because: (1) "every twist of a party's legal argument [must] be presented to the Authority before it is presented in court" (Motion for Reconsideration at 1 ("Motion"), citing Overseas Education Association, Inc., v. FLRA, 827 F.2d 814, 820 (D.C. Cir. 1987)); and (2) the Authority's decision is contrary to law.

      The Union contends that the Authority erroneously applied the Travel Expenses Act and Federal Travel Regulations. [n2]  Specifically, the Union argues that the Travel Expenses Act does not apply to the subject of the provision. The Union explains that the provision applies to employees' advance payments for leave expenditures, "whether or not they involve travel . . . [i]t applies, for example, to nonrefundable local theatre, sports event, or banquet tickets." Motion at 2 n.2.

      According to the Union, the Authority's decision "overlooks that the expenditures required by [the provision] are authorized by the collective bargaining law . . . and therefore by the law that generally authorizes agency expenditures." Motion at 2. In support, the Union cites National Treasury Employees Union and Department of the Treasury, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, 26 FLRA 497 (1987) (BATF), and National Federation of Federal Employees and General Services Administration, 24 FLRA 430 (1986) (GSA). [n3]  Specifically, the Union states that those cases stand for the proposition that "general agency appropriations . . . may be used to meet obligations of collective bargaining agreements" when those agreements are "reasonably related" to the purpose of the collective bargaining law. Motion at 3. [n4]  [ v56 p807 ]

      Next, the Union contends that the provision is not inconsistent with law on the ground that it costs money because (1) the Agency did not claim that the provision interferes with management's right to determine the agency's budget; and (2) even if the Agency did make such a claim, the provision could not be held illegal "under the applicable legal standard." Id. In support, the Agency cites National Federation of Federal Employees, Council of VA Locals and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington, D.C., 49 FLRA 923 (1994).

      The Union also claims that the provision is an arrangement under section 7106(b)(3) of the Statute "for employees adversely affected by management's exercise of its right to cancel leave and assign work." Motion at 4. The Union claims that, under the provision, the "Agency['s] payment of employees' unavoidable out-of-pocket losses incurred in reliance on the [A]gency's grant of leave, subsequently revoked, is a narrowly tailored remedy for harm inflicted on blameless employees by . . . [the] [A]gency's exercise of its right to renege on promises." Id. The Union concludes that the Authority's decision stands for the erroneous proposition that any contract provision that costs money must be invalid unless it is "authorized by some law other than the collective bargaining law and the law generally authorizing agency expenditures[.]" Id.

IV.     Analysis and Conclusions

      Under section 2429.17 of the Authority's Regulations, a party seeking reconsideration of a final decision or order of the Authority bears the heavy burden of establishing that extraordinary circumstances exist to justify this unusual action. See U.S. Department of the Air Force, 375th Combat Support Group, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, 50 FLRA 84, 85 (1995). The Authority has found that extraordinary circumstances exist, and has granted reconsideration, in a limited number of situations, including where the Authority had erred in its remedial order, process, conclusion of law, or factual finding. A moving party's disagreement with the conclusion reached by the Authority is insufficient to satisfy the extraordinary circumstances requirement. Id. at 85-87.