United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Federal Correctional Complex, Oakdale, Louisiana (Agency) and American Federation of Government Employees, Council of Prison Locals, Local 3957 (Union)

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63 FLRA No. 72



LOCAL 3957




March 31, 2009


Before the Authority: Carol Waller Pope, Chairman and
Thomas M. Beck, Member

I.     Statement of the Case

      This matter is before the Authority on an exception to an award of Arbitrator Sidney S. Moreland IV, 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 exception.

      A grievance was filed alleging that the Agency violated the parties' collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and its process for filling vacant positions with employees who were displaced by budget cuts. The Arbitrator sustained the grievance. For the reasons set forth below, we dismiss the Agency's exception.

II.     Background and Arbitrator's Award

      In 2004, the Agency enacted a plan called the "Process for Placement of Displaced Employees" (the Placement Process), delineating the procedure by which employees who were displaced by budget cuts would be placed into vacant positions that became available. Award at 1-3. At the same time, the Agency also approved a hiring freeze until a certain date after which the Placement Process would become effective. Shortly thereafter, a memorandum was sent to "All [Human Resources] Offices" providing that vacant positions intended to be filled after the lifting of the hiring freeze were to be posted immediately on the Sallyport website. Id. at 3. After the hiring freeze was lifted and the Placement Process was implemented, a vocational training instructor position (training position) became available. The Agency failed to post the position on the website. Instead, the Agency filled the bargaining unit position with an employee whose position was targeted for abolishment. Id. at 4.

      The Union filed a grievance alleging that, by failing to post the training position on the website, the Agency violated the Placement Process, the CBA, and the memorandum that set forth the procedures by which vacant positions would be filled after the lifting of the hiring freeze. Id. The Union claimed that the vacant position was never announced, thereby preventing displaced employees from applying for the position. Id. Therefore, the Union requested that the Agency "re-open" the position and allow qualified displaced employees to compete for it according to the Placement Process, CBA, and memorandum. Id. The Agency denied the grievance, claiming that it was authorized to reassign the employee to the training position without announcing it on the website. The Agency argued that such action was within management's right.

      The Arbitrator set forth the issue to be decided at arbitration as:

Did the [Agency] violate the [CBA], the Human Resource Manual, the [Placement Process], the Memorandum/ Directives of the Regional Director, federal law, or any other applicable rule or regulation by failing to post the vacancy of a Vocation Training [Instructor] position before filling said position, and if so, what is the appropriate remedy?

Id. at 1.

      The Arbitrator found that the Agency's Placement Process "would certainly satisfy the `appropriate source' requirement from which the Agency may fill a position pursuant to the [CBA] and [§ 7106 of the Statute]." Id. at 7. The Arbitrator then concluded that "to fill a position without regard for the established process for doing so, may constitute a hiring practice that is not an `appropriate source' pursuant to the [CBA] and [§ 7106 of the Statute]." Id.

      The Arbitrator rejected the Agency's arguments supporting its decision to fill the training position without posting it on the website. Specifically, the Arbitrator rejected the Agency's claim that the Assistant Director's verbal approval was sufficient to circumvent [ v63 p179 ] the procedures set forth in the Placement Process requiring that exceptions be placed in writing. Id. at 8. The Arbitrator also rejected as irrelevant the Agency's argument that the training position was filled as a "re-assignment at management's prerogative" under 5 CFR § 335.103(c)(3)(v). Id. at 8-9. In addition, the Arbitrator denied the Agency's claim that the training position was filled according to the merit promotion plan, because the position did not involve such a promotion plan. Id. at 9.

      In sum, the Arbitrator concluded that the Agency did not post the training instructor position in accordance with the Placement Process and "failed to properly demonstrate and/or obtain an approved exception to [the Placement Process] in order to place [the employee] into the [training position]." Id. at 10-11. Consequently, the Arbitrator determined that the Agency violated the Placement Process by filling the training instructor position without first advertising the vacant position on the appropriate Agency website. Id. at 10-11.

      The Arbitrator thus ordered the Agency to re-open the training instructor position to employees who were qualified for the job at the time the position was filled. Id. at 11. The Arbitrator also ordered the employee who was initially placed in the training position to remain in that position if there were no displaced employees in the bargaining unit who met the requirements to apply for the position. Id.

III.     Positions of the Parties

A.     Agency's Exception

      The Agency argues that the award is contrary to management's right to select under § 7106 of the Statute, whi