Chapter Grievances
NTEU Chapter 282

Official Time Grievance
Posted June 26, 2003

On February 13, 2003, a grievance on Official Time was filed against the Kansas City District Office. Arbitration hearings were held on 13 and 14 May 03. The award was issued on 3 Jun 03. Representing NTEU was Dianna Anderson. Representing FDA was Nelson Cabrera, Jr. The Arbitrator was Jay Fogelberg.

In June 2002, the NTEU Kansas City Chapter reorganized increasing in size from 150 to 650 bargaining unit employees. Along with the increase in size was an increase in representational responsibilities and use of Official Time. (Official Time is time made available to a union to carry out its representational responsibilities.) Only beginning in February 03, James McReavey and Greg Dixon began to demand to know the details of the representational activities, but then approved only two hours per day when the activities in fact demanded more time than two. McReavey and Dixon testified that they followed a "directive from higher up" pursuant to an "Agency policy". The Arbitrator found that FDA failed to show that granting the Official Time requested would "severely hinder the accomplishment of Agency work that cannot be otherwise accommodated." Much of the FDA work assigned to the applicants was "routine" or "someone else in the Region 'could have performed the work'".

The Arbitrator found that while FDA "has a right to inquire into the nature of the request in order to make a reasoned decision, that same inquiry cannot be intrusive to the extent that it violates established and legal representational obligations of the Union's officials, or would otherwise interfere with their elected/assigned Chapter duties. At the same time, the relevant language protects the Employer from undue and excessive requests which would substantially "hinder the accomplishment of Agency work" which could not otherwise be accommodated.

The Arbitrator ordered FDA to "forthwith return to the practice followed both before 2003 (and apparently after mid-March of this year) and cease and desist from granting blanket leave requests in two hour increments...where more time has been sought for appropriate 'representational duties'"