FAA computer workers fight for raise

Special salary rate tables for IT workers

Many Federal Aviation Administration computer specialists are up in armsthat they did not receive the special pay rates for information technologyworkers.

FAA chief information officer Daniel Mehan has explained that the agency'sseparate core compensation plan is market-based and offers salaries competitivewith those the affected workers would get from the Office of Personnel Management'sIT pay raise. The OPM rates took effect Jan. 1 and apply to employees GS-5through GS-12 who are computer specialists, computer engineers and computerscience specialists.

But workers say many of the FAA's sites have not moved to the core compensationpay scale, in which workers receive salary increases based on performance,and that workers who are still on the general schedule have fallen throughthe cracks.

"It doesn't really make us feel comfortable from a public policy standpointthat computer specialists on these mission-critical systems are the lowestpaid in the federal government," said Michael Derby, counsel for the ProfessionalAirways Systems Specialists, a union that represents the FAA's technicalworkers, including 800 FAA computer specialists.

PASS filed a formal grievance with FAA Administrator Jane Garvey onJan. 31 on behalf of computer specialists in the Flight Standards unit whohave not transitioned to the core compensation plan and who have not receivedthe IT special rates even though they are still on the GS pay scale.

PASS' Airway Facilities collective bargaining unit negotiated its corecompensation rates with the FAA as of January, which provides them withthe governmentwide 3.7 percent pay increase and an additional 5.5 percentincrease over the next five years, Derby said.

"Even with that, it does not equal the 7 [percent] to 33 percent theywould get from OPM," Derby said. "People have already made the decisionto leave because of this."

Computer specialists in the Flight Standards unit are still negotiatinga contract with the FAA, and resolution may not be reached until this summer.PASS wants those computer specialists to receive the special rates retroactiveto the start of this year, Derby said.

Seventy-six computer specialists who are members of the American Federationof Government Employees Local 2282 at the FAA's Mike Monroney AeronauticalCenter in Oklahoma City also did not receive the raise and are not coveredby the core compensation system.

The union is working with the labor management representatives thereto see if some sort of increase can be given to make up for it, said KeithBennett, secretary of the local AFGE office. Bennett said several of hismembers are upset and are actively seeking work at another federal agencywhere they can receive the pay increase.

"I can go across town to Tinker Air Force Base and get a $3,000-a-yearpay increase," Bennett said.

For instance, an employee who is a GS-9 Step 5 makes $40,580. With thespecial rates, that employee would make $48,992.

Of those 76 computer specialists represented by AFGE in Oklahoma City,74 are in the GS-11 to GS-12 range. If the core compensation rates wereenacted, they would be competitive with the IT special rates, Bennett said.

The range in salaries from GS-11 to GS-12 under the special rates fromOPM in places like Oklahoma City is $47,478 to $70,835. That band undercore compensation ranges from $46,087 to $71,284.

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