American Federation of Government Workers v. Department of the Air Force, No. 21-1488 (Fed. Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
Johnson served as an Air Traffic Controller Watch Supervisor. The Air Force alleged that Johnson was at fault for a violation of FAA policy concerning the separation of aircraft during his watch in 2018 and that this was grounds for removal in light of his prior offenses. A notice of a removal decision was effective May 11, 2019. On May 7, 2019, the local Union initiated grievance procedures. When the dispute was not resolved, the Union invoked arbitration through the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. In November 2020, the Arbitrator upheld the removal decision.
The Union appealed but withdrew from the appeal because its national union had placed the local Union in receivership and stripped its counsel of all authority to proceed. Without reaching the merits, the Federal Circuit dismissed Johnson’s motion (Federal Rule 43(b) of Appellate Procedure), to substitute the Union. A party may not substitute under Rule 43(b) where the original party to the appeal lacked standing; unions lack standing to initiate an appeal of an arbitration decision under 5 U.S.C. 7703(a). A party may not substitute under Rule 43(b) when the original party being substituted lacked standing to initiate the appeal.