Muller v. Gov't Printing Office, No. 15-3032 (Fed. Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Muller, an employee of the U.S. Government Printing Office, is a union member. The union and GPO are signatories to a multi-party Master Labor Management Agreement, which creates a negotiated grievance procedure for GPO employees to contest adverse employment actions as an alternative to appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board. Muller was reassigned within the GPO, resulting in demotion to a lower grade and a reduction in pay. Muller challenged his reassignment through the negotiated procedure. An arbitrator dismissed the grievance as “not arbitrable,” because a four-month deadline for holding a hearing, required by the agreement, had passed. The Federal Circuit reversed; the contractual provision does not require dismissal of the grievance in the event of noncompliance with the four-month deadline. The deadline is merely a nonbinding housekeeping rule to encourage timely arbitration, one that is addressed to the arbitrator as well as the parties. There is no past practice requiring dismissal under the circumstances of this case.