The issue in this case was whether GAO should assert jurisdiction over a claim filed where a grievance had been filed under a negotiated grievance procedure and one of the parties to the agreement objected to the submission. Two employees of the Library of Congress filed claims with GAO for retroactive temporary promotions and backpay based on alleged overlong details to higher grade positions in the Library. The two claims were presented by their authorized representative, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). One employee claimed that she was assigned the duties of a higher grade position for approximately 1 year. Similarly, the second employee claimed that he was assigned duties of a higher grade position for approximately 15 months. Both employees filed grievances under the negotiated agreement. In the final agency decision at step two of the grievance procedure, the agency admitted that it had violated the collective bargaining agreement between the Library and AFSCME. The Library concluded that it had erred in failing to give the employees temporary promotions beginning the day following the first 2 months of their respective details. However, the agency refused to grant retroactive pay for the entire overlong period of the respective details because the collective bargaining agreement provides that grievances must be filed within 10 working days from the date the grievant knew or should have reasonably known of the condition which prompted the grievance. Therefore, the Library granted backpay to the employees only for the period starting 10 working days preceding the date that the grievances were filed. The Library objected to the submission of the matter to GAO because the claim for backpay was premature in view of the binding arbitration provisions of the agreement and it was not required to pay claimants any more than the backpay awarded. In instances where a claimant has filed a grievance with the employing agency, GAO will not assert jurisdiction if a party to the agreement objects since to do so would be disruptive of the authorized grievance procedures. In addition, the issue of the timeliness of the grievances is primarily an issue of contract interpretation which is customarily adjudicated solely under the grievance-arbitration provisions of the contract. Therefore, without reaching the merits of the compensation claims presented by the employee, GAO declined to exercise jurisdiction.
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