Some two million people come within the jurisdiction of the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA). About 60 percent are covered by approximately 2,400 collective bargaining agreements.
Unlike the National Labor Relations Act, which is silent on the matter of grievance procedures and arbitration, the statute governing the FLRA requires that any covered collective bargaining agreement contain specific procedures for the settlement of grievances, with a final step of binding arbitration (Section 7121).'
Another unique feature is that either party to an arbitration under the statute (with certain exceptions relating to serious adverse actions including discharges) may appeal to the Authority. The decisions on such appeals, unless an unfair labor practice is involved, are final and are not appealable to the federal courts, as are most decisions of the Authority.
The statutory grounds for appeals or "exceptions," as they are referred to in the statute, lay to rest for the federal sector the continuing argument among arbitrators as to which controls—internal or external law. Section 7122^ makes it clear that in review of appeals of federal arbitration cases, the Authority must consider external law, even if it is not alluded to by either party at the arbitration hearing.