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Arbitration Award on Union Sign-Off Grievance Upheld

In a challenge by a Treasury Department employees’ union to a partial remedy for its grievance alleging the IRS was processing members’ dues revocation forms without a union sign-off that would allow the union to contact members opting out, the 4th Circuit affirms the Federal Labor Relations Authority decision upholding an arbitration award that gave the union a limited remedy.

The arbitrator found the agency’s decision to process revocation forms without a union sign-off constituted an unfair labor practice under the controlling statute. However, the arbitrator refused to find the agency’s actions illegally interfered with or coerced employees in the exercise of their statutory rights. Because at least some employees might have changed their minds about their revocations had the IRS honored the union sign-off procedures, the arbitrator found the agency violated the union’s right to receive some dues.

As a remedy, the arbitrator ordered the agency to follow the revocation procedures set out in Article 10 of the collective bargaining agreement, to post a notice admitting its statutory violations, and to pay 75 percent of the arbitration fees and expenses. The arbitrator ordered the IRS to provide the union with a list of employees who had revoked membership without the union sign-off, to allow the union to contact those employees about voluntarily reinstating their dues withholding. The parties appealed to the FLRA, which confirmed the award.

Here, the Authority upheld the arbitrator’s remedy, finding that because the union failed to establish that its requested remedy was compelled by law, the union failed to show the arbitrator committed legal error. The FLRA found the union failed to support its contention that the arbitrator erred by considering the intent of the employees who improperly revoked authorization for dues withholding.

The arbitrator found that status quo ante relief required a return to the point at which the improper action occurred and ordered the agency to permit the union to contact the employees whose revocation forms were improperly processed, the very opportunity that had been lost as a result of the agency’s actions. We discern no reason to disturb the remedy upheld by the authority.

Petition for review denied.

National Treasury Employees Union v. Federal Labor Relations Authority (Davis) No. 10-1857, July 26, 2011; On Petition for Review; Richard J. Bialczak for petitioner; Rosa M. Koppel, FLRA, for respondent. VLW 011-2-130, 10 pp.

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