Tuesday, March 08, 2011
NATCA Settles Training Failure/Removal Case
NATCA settled a training failure/removal case with reinstatement to a different facility. NATCA and the FAA were scheduled to arbitrate the grievance of a controller who had failed training and was fired. The employee was previously certified at a higher-level facility and then relocated to a busier facility. He failed training there and was transferred to another (lower) facility. He then failed training at the new facility. The FAA interpreted its internal transfer rules to “prohibit” a second reassignment, whereas NATCA interpreted the CBA as requiring an indefinite number of transfers once a controller becomes fully certified. The parties resolved the second-transfer dispute separately, which then allowed the grievance in this case to be resolved. The grievant was reinstated to work and will now begin at a new facility, with some retroactivity, and no loss of benefits or seniority.
NATCA Settles Dress Code Violation Suspension
NATCA settled a suspension case stemming from the IWR dress code dispute. A controller (male) wore a dress to work, in protest of the IWR dress code. FAA issued a 10-day suspension due to the inappropriate dress and for a lack of candor (about changing clothes) and following orders. Shortly before arbitration, the parties settled the case with the FAA paying back all but one of the suspension days, removing the discipline from his file altogether, and converting the last (unpaid day) to LWOP.
Arbitrator Holds That Parties Must Resolve PCS Benefits Issue at Command Center
NATCA just received a favorable decision in a contract arbitration dispute concerning permanent change of station (PCS) benefits. FAA management had announced the relocation of the D.C. Command Center from Herndon, Va., to Vint Hill, Va. (about 25 miles away). In years past, facility relocations had always resulted in controllers being eligible for PCS benefits if the relocation was more than 10 miles (pursuant to the CBA language in Article 58, §3. However, this time, the FAA announced that it would not provide PCS benefits, and that it did not have to do so unless the facility relocation was at least 50 miles (pursuant to the FAA’s Travel Policy - “FAATP”). The FAA claimed it had discretion and could always deny PCS for shorter moves. NATCA grieved and arbitrated, and received a favorable decision from the arbitrator. However, the arbitrator agreed with the FAA that it still possessed discretion to determine eligibility. He ruled that neither the 10-mile minimum NATCA suggested, nor the 50-mile minimum the FAA suggested was the only consideration. Instead, the arbitrator used language from both the CBA and the FAATP to determine that other factors must also be considered, such as the increased commuting time and any “undue burden” of the new commute. As a result, he ordered the FAA to reconsider and reissue responses to each of the individual PCS benefit applications. He also suggested that the parties could try to resolve this question through negotiations. As a result, NATCA obtained a better road map of the considerations the FAA must factor into its decision making when deciding whether to grant PCS benefits. The parties have begun implementing the award.