Article 32.

Arbitration

Section 1. If the Agency and the Union fail to settle any grievance processed under the negotiated grievance procedure, such grievance shall be submitted to arbitration upon written request by either party within twenty-one (21) calendar days after issuance of final decision.

Section 2. Within fourteen (14) calendar days from the date of the request for arbitration, either party shall request the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to provide a list of seven (7) impartial persons qualified to act as arbitrators. The Parties shall meet within seven (7) calendar days after receipt of such list. If they cannot mutually agree upon one of the listed arbitrators, then the Agency and the Union will each alternately strike one arbitrator's name from the list of seven (7) until one name remains who shall be the duly selected arbitrator.

Section 3. The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service shall be empowered to make a direct designation of an arbitrator to hear the case in the event:

Section 4. If the Parties fail to agree on a joint submission of the issue for arbitration, each shall submit a separate statement of the issues(s). The arbitrator shall make a final determination of the issue(s) to be heard.

Section 5. The arbitrator's fee and the expenses of the arbitration, if any, shall be born equally by the Agency and the Union. The arbitration hearing will be held if possible, on the Agency's premises during the regular day shift hours of the basic workweek. All participants in the hearing shall be in a duty status. The Union may have one observer for training purposes. This individual must be a representative of the Union and will be allowed official time to attend.

Either party may call expert witnesses to testify. An expert witness is not classified as an observer as the duties of the expert witness are significantly different from that of an observer. The observer has no say in the arbitration proceeding and is present only to observe the proceedings. An expert witness testifies and gives advice during the Arbitration according to their field of expertise.

Only those issues and evidentiary documentation submitted during the grievance procedure pursuant to Article 31 will be considered by the Arbitrator. All witnesses will attest only to those issues that were submitted for consideration to the Step 1 grievance official pursuant to Article 31.

Section 6. The arbitrator will be requested to render their decision as quickly as possible, but in any event not later than thirty (30) calendar days after the conclusion of the hearing unless the Parties mutually agree to extend the time limit.

Section 7. The arbitrator's award shall be binding on the Parties subject to the provisions of Chapter 71, Title 5 of the U.S. Code. Any disagreement by either party over the application of an arbitrator's award shall be returned to the arbitrator for settlement including remanded awards.

Section 8. Any exception to an arbitrator's award must be filed with the Federal Labor Relations Authority in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 71, Title 5 of the U.S. Code.

Section 9. Except as mutually agreed otherwise by the Parties, arbitration will be conducted as oral proceedings with provision for a verbatim transcript. The requesting party shall pay for the transcript and it shall be their property.

Section 10. The arbitrator shall hear arguments regarding arbitrability and the merits of the case at the same hearing. If the Parties agree otherwise, the merits of the case will be deferred by the arbitrator pending resolution of the arbitrability issue.

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