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OPM Contact: Jo-Ann Chabot
This is a claim for back pay allegedly resulting from an
arbitration award issued in August 1997. The claimant advises that
he was employed with the [agency], and that the [agency] removed
him from its rolls in March 1997. He also notes that the [union]
represented him in recently concluded arbitration hearings on the
removal charges and, if he wins this case, he will be entitled to
another back pay award. The claimant believes that, because the
collective bargaining agreement between the [agency] and the
[union] provides that an arbitrator's decision is final and
binding, an individual may bring legal action to enforce an
arbitrator's decision in his favor. Thus, the claimant also wants
to know whether he is entitled to bring legal action in federal
court to enforce an arbitration award.
This office does not have jurisdiction to consider a matter that
is or was subject to a negotiated grievance procedure under a
collective bargaining agreement between the employee's agency and
labor union, unless that matter is or was specifically excluded
from the agreement's grievance procedure. Congress intended that
such a grievance procedure would be the exclusive remedy for
matters not excluded from the grievance process. Carter v. Gibbs, 909 F.2d 1452, 1454-55
(Fed. Cir. 1990) (en banc), cert. denied, 498 U.S. 811 (1990)
(Construing therein the provision in the Civil Service Reform Act
codified at 5 U.S.C. 7121(a) which mandates that the
grievance procedures in negotiated collective bargaining agreements
be the exclusive remedy for matters covered by the agreements).
Accord, Cecil E. Riggs, et al., 71 Comp. Gen. 374 (1992).
The matters that the claimant has raised clearly stem from
incidents that are subject to the negotiated grievance procedure.
Accordingly, we cannot assert jurisdiction over, or issue a
decision concerning, these matters.
Moreover, the questions that the claimant has raised concerning
his claims for back pay ultimately arise from underlying
allegations of wrongful removal, a matter that currently is under
consideration in arbitration proceedings. We cannot consider claims
that currently are under consideration in another forum that has
the authority to consider and determine such matters. In addition,
we do not have any authority to settle claims that have been made
against an agency that has independent settlement authority under
the law. The applicable law in this case, section 2008(c) of title
39, United States Code, authorizes the [agency] to consider and
settle all claims that have been made against it. Therefore, we do
not have the authority to consider or settle this claim. Finally,
the claimant should consult with the [union] about any remedies
that might exist in connection with enforcing an arbitrator's