Maybe the better questions are what is a CBCA and why should union leaders care?

CBCA stands for Civilian Board of Contract Appeals and is located within GSA. It has the right to settle federal employee claims, under 31 U.S.C. § 3702, for reimbursement of expenses incurred while on official temporary duty travel or in connection with relocation to a new duty station. That includes the following kinds of disputes:

  • Lodging, meals and incidental expenses,
  • Transportation expenses of temporary duty travel,
  • Overseas posting expenses, including temporary quarters,
  • Real estate transaction expenses,
  • Household goods,
  • Personally owed and rental vehicles,
  • Relocation in the interest of the government expenses, and
  • A few miscellaneous matters.

Like most statutory appeal processes, employees who have the option under their collective bargaining agreement to grieve the disputed claim CANNOT use the CBCA as an option. However, the CBCA has also made it clear that if the parties exclude disputes over these matters from the grievance procedure, then the employee may file an appeal with the CBCA.

The obvious advantage of excluding such matters from the contract grievance procedure is that the union will not have to shoulder the costs of an arbitration decision over these claims. Given that they almost always involve a single employee and the disputed amounts rarely are as much as the arbitration is going to cost the union, it may be wise to exclude these issues the next time you redo your contract. The employee still has an appeal route, and as a statutory appeal matter, the union is free to represent the claimant or not without risk of a duty to fairly represent ULP charge.

If you want to learn more about how this process could work for your unit, read this recent case out of Customs and Border Protection that you can find on the CBCA web site: In the Matter of Charles Houser, CBCA 2149-RELO (May 26, 2011).


About AdminUN

FEDSMILL staff has over 40 years of federal sector labor relations experience on the union as well as management side of the table and even some time as a neutral.
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