NFFE Wins Arbitration at Letterkenny Army Depot Over Shift Selection and Seniority
Wage-grade employees at Letterkenny Army Depot in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania have stronger-than-ever seniority rights, thanks to an arbitration decision won by NFFE. The dispute arose when the U.S. Department of the Army, Letterkenny Army Depot forced a Boiler Operator to fill a second shift vacancy, rather than a more junior boiler operator, in violation of the Contract between NFFE-IAM and the Agency.
In a solid, well-reasoned opinion, an independent Arbitrator dismissed the Agency’s arguments, reasoning that “there is nothing confusing, unclear, or ambiguous” about the contract language at issue. The Contract requires that when there are not enough qualified volunteers for night shift work, selections should be made in the inverse order of their seniority. So, the employee with the least seniority should have been chosen first to fill the open night shift. Thus, the Agency should have placed the most junior employee into the vacant shift but instead it improperly selected one of the more senior employees for the vacant shift.
Without NFFE’s willingness to hold the Agency accountable for its Contract violations, workers’ rights would be violated without recourse. As the Arbitrator wrote: “The Agency violated the Agreement when it required the Grievant, rather than a less senior boiler operator, to fill the second shift plant operator position vacated by [another employee]. The Agency shall fill such position consistent with the language of Article 10, Section 7 and award the Grievant appropriate make-whole relief.”