I am pleased to share the arbitration decision in which the arbitrator sustained a grievance challenging the FDA’s denial of the grievant’s request to work a four-day workweek under the Alternate Work Schedule (AWS) Maxiflex schedule authorized in Article 25 of the CBA. Under the requested schedule, the grievant would work 9.5 and 10.5 hours per day on alternating days with Fridays as a regular day off.
The grievant’s supervisor denied the request simply stating that the requested schedule configuration did not “effectively meet organizational needs,” and that decision was rubber-stamped at the second and third steps of the grievance procedure. The arbitrator sustained the grievance and directed the FDA to approve the requested schedule.
The arbitrator noted that Article 25, Section 3 A requires such determinations on a “case-by-case basis.” The arbitrator found that the FDA failed to properly consider the grievant’s request when it cited “potential” problems with the requested schedule versus documented or actual problems or complaints. The arbitrator gave great weight to the fact that the grievant had successfully performed the same work in a four-day workweek schedule under the “Any-80” schedule option and, when that option was eliminated in the new contract, by earning and using credit hours. The agency provided no evidence that granting a similar schedule through the Maxiflex option would now pose a problem.
Finally, the arbitrator observed that “the fact that an AWS schedule might not always work is not a reason to deny a schedule in its entirety.” Sections 9 E and 12 E of Article 25 allow the suspension of AWS as needed to deal with training or travel status, workload problems, emergencies, or special details.
Many FDA supervisors frequently tell consumer safety officers (CSOs) that they may not work an AWS schedule of less than 10 days a pay period. As a result, many CSOs simply do not ask for such a schedule configuration or believe it is not available. As this decision makes clear, that is not the case.
If you have any questions about this decision or fashioning AWS requests and/or challenges to AWS denials, please contact your Union representative.