1. : The purpose of this Article is to provide a mutually acceptable method for the prompt and equitable settlement of grievances filed by bargaining unit employee(s), the Union or the Employer.
The Employer and the Union recognize the importance of settling disagreements and disputes promptly, fairly, and in an orderly manner that will maintain the self‑respect of the employee and is consistent with the principles of good management. To accomplish this, the Parties will attempt to settle grievances expeditiously and at the lowest level of supervision. Employees and their representatives will be unimpeded and free from restraint, interference, coercion, discrimination or reprisal, consistent with 5 U.S.C. and this Agreement, in seeking adjustment of grievances.
2. : A grievance means any complaint by an employee concerning any matter relating to employment of the employee; by the Union concerning any matter relating to the employment of any employee; by any employee, the Union or the Employer concerning the effect or interpretation or claim of breach of a collective bargaining agreement, or any claimed violation, misinterpretation, or misapplication of any law, rule or regulation affecting conditions of employment.
3. : This grievance procedure does not apply to -
a. Those matters excluded by Section 7121(c) of USC; i.e., any grievance concerning:
(1) Any claimed violation of USC Chapter 73, Subchapter III, relating to prohibited political activities;
(2) Retirement, life insurance, or health insurance;
(3) A suspension or removal for reasons of national security;
(4) Any examination, certification, or appointment; or
(5) The classification of any position which does not result in the reduction of grade or pay of an employee.
b. Individual appeals to Reductions-in-Force. This does not prevent the Union from filing a grievance alleging violation of this Agreement or violation of appropriate regulation on matters affecting other than an individual case.
c. Non‑adoption of a suggestion, disapprovals of quality step increases, and performance awards or other kinds of discretionary or honorary awards. However, grievances may be filed alleging violations of Article 19.
d. The content of critical elements and performance standards. However, grievances may be filed alleging violations of Article 18.
e. The termination of temporary employees with appointments of 700 hours or less and probationary employees.
4. : Employees have the option of raising the following matters under a statutory appeals procedure or a negotiated grievance procedure but can only file under one procedure:
a. Adverse Action (5 U.S.C. 7512) to MSPB or EEOC (if discrimination is alleged);
b. Actions Based on Unacceptable Performance (5 U.S.C. 4303) to MSPB or EEOC (if discrimination is alleged); or
c. Discrimination [5 U.S.C. 2302 (b) (1)] to EEOC.
An employee shall be deemed to have exercised his/her option under this section to raise the matter under either a statutory procedure or the negotiated procedure at such time as the employee timely