United States, Department of the Treasury, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Western Currency Facility, Fort Worth, Texas (Agency) and Graphic Communications International Union, Local 4B (Union)

[ v58 p745 ]

58 FLRA No. 176







July 31, 2003


Before the Authority: Dale Cabaniss, Chairman, and
Carol Waller Pope and Tony Armendariz, Members

I.      Statement of the Case

      This matter is before the Authority on exceptions to an award of Arbitrator Ira F. Jaffe filed by the Agency under § 7122(a) of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (the Statute) and part 2425 of the Authority's Regulations. The Union filed an opposition to the Agency's exceptions.

      The Arbitrator sustained a grievance regarding the FY 2002 Performance Plan. The Arbitrator directed the Agency to take certain actions and the Arbitrator remanded to the parties for resolution the Union's claims regarding backpay, interest, and reasonable attorney fees in accordance with the parties' stipulation. The Arbitrator retained jurisdiction to resolve any claims which the parties were unable to resolve.

      We find that the Agency's exceptions are interlocutory and that no extraordinary circumstances have been presented warranting review of the exceptions at this time. Accordingly, we dismiss the exceptions without prejudice.

II.     Background and Arbitrator's Award

      This case concerns bookbinders employed by the Agency to inspect currency and to perform various finishing activities with respect to the currency. After the Agency purchased new equipment to electronically examine the sheets of currency, the Agency implemented different productivity standards for bookbinders operating the new electronic equipment and those employees who continued to run older manually-operated equipment. Specifically, the FY 2002 performance plan established a production standard of 39,500 sheets on manually operated equipment and 45,000 sheets for electronic equipment. The Agency also ceased providing bookbinders credit for all production of relief bookbinders during lunch and break periods. The net effect of the FY 2002 performance plan was to require a net increase in productivity. The Union then filed this grievance.

      The parties stipulated that:

The Arbitrator is requested to make an award that addresses the merits of the underlying dispute and to grant such relief as will provide needed guidance and/or prevent the same issues from occurring begin [sic] during the next or any future fiscal year. In the event that additional relief is or may be appropriate, the parties have agreed to bifurcate the proceeding to allow for further hearings or post-award submissions relating to backpay, interest on backpay, and/or reasonable attorney's fees, all of which have been requested by the Union in this proceeding.

Award at 2.

      The Arbitrator stated that the initial question was to determine whether the FY 2002 performance plan violated the parties' 1998 and 1999 memoranda of agreement (MOAs) by: 1) increasing the effective per hour sheet production requirement; 2) failing to provide relief operators; 3) changing the method for crediting production; and 4) increasing the real production standards and eliminating credit for the production of relief operators.

      The Arbitrator determined that he was

persuaded that the [Agency's] decision to significantly increase pro-rata production by lowering the nominal amount of sheets, but by changing the method of calculating production and failing to provide adequate relief, thereby resulting in a significant increase in expected production, was a violation of the 1998 MOA, the June 15, 1998 clarifying side letter, and the discussions surrounding the 1999 MOA on pay.

Award at 27. The Arbitrator also determined that the decision to cease provision of adequate relief, and to stop providing bookbinders with credit for the production of relief operators, also violated the negotiated agreements.

      The Arbitrator ordered the following remedies: the maximum per shift productivity requirements are [ v58 p746 ] 46,500 sheets on the electronic equipment; employees are allowed to take their morning and afternoon breaks, lunch periods, and clean-up time; the historically used method for determining the 46,500 sheet daily productivity requirement shall continue; bookbinders shall be credited with the performance of their relief operators; any adverse actions based on performance taken in FY 2002 in reliance on improper productivity standards must be rescinded and any such documentation must be expunged from the employees records.

      As to individual remedies, the Arbitrator agreed to retain jurisdiction if the parties were unable to resolve such issues. Further, as noted above, the parties had agreed to bifurcate the proceeding to allow for further hearings or post-award submissions relating to backpay, interest on backpay, and/or reasonable attorney's fees, all of which had been requested by the Union in this proceeding. Nothing in the record indicates that the Arbitrator has resolved these matters.

III.     Positions of the Parties

      The Agency contends that the award is deficient because it is contrary to law, including management's rights to direct employees and to assign work under § 7106(a)(2)(A) and (B) of the Statute; because it is contrary to 5 U.S.C. § 5349; and because the award fails to draw its essence from the parties' agreement. The Union opposed the Agency's exceptions.

IV.     Analysis and Conclusions

      Although neither party raised the interlocutory nature of the award, we raise the issue sua sponte since the parties agreed to a bifurcated proceeding and the second part of that proceeding regarding backpay, interest and attorney fees has not been completed.