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D.C. Circuit Reverses Arbitration Discussion for Guards

On July 8, 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit set-aside an arbitration award obtained by federal prison guards against the Bureau of Prisons (BOP).

In order to cut down on overtime costs, the BOP in 2004 reconfigured the way it makes duty assignments. Under the new policy, more guards are assigned to relief positions instead of set duty assignments. This makes more relief guards available to cover “mission critical” assignments when other staff call in sick or take vacation.

The guards’ challenged the new policy, arguing that it was inconsistent with their collective bargaining agreement with the BOP. An arbitrator upheld the guards’ challenge. The BOP then petitioned for review of the arbitration decision with the D.C. Circuit. The court of appeals reversed.

According go the court of appeals, “the parties reached an agreement about how and when management would exercise its right to assign work, the implementation of those procedures, and the resulting impact, do not give rise to a further duty to bargain.” See: Federal Bureau of Prisons v. Federal Labor Relations Authority, No. 10-1089 (D.C. Cir. 2011).

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Related legal case

Federal Bureau of Prisons v. Federal Labor Relations Authority