DON’T MAKE THE GRIEVANCE MISTAKE THIS UNION DID
Who knows why they did it or even if it was knowing and deliberate. But a union that normally represents state and locally police ripped the rug out from under a federal employee’s grievance by citing the wrong section of the Family Medical Leave Act at every stage of the grievance. It cited the provisions that apply to state and local folks, not the ones that apply to feds. The primary lesson to be learned here is that unless your contract requires you to cite a specific section of a law or regulation, DON’T. In our experience, …
no arbitrator is going to hold you accountable if you merely cite the law and associated regulation by name. If the agency asks for specificity, consult your union lawyer or rep. (The sole exception we are aware of involves alleging a ULP. In that case some, arbitrators have required the union to have cited the specific ULP section, e.g., 5 USC 7116(a)(1). By being overly specific in this case, the arbitrator was forced to dismiss the grievance. OUCH!
For details, check out Fraternal Order of Police and DoD, Pentagon, 73 FLRA 413 (2023).