FAA IT workers pursue pay raises

The Federal Aviation Administration will go to arbitration by June with a union that represents 800 computer specialists following an agency decision to deny the union's request to give pay raises to its information technology workers.

In a March 1 letter to the Professional Airways Systems Specialists—a union that represents the FAA's technical workers—the agency rejected a request to give FAA IT workers the new IT pay rates set by the Office of Personnel Management.

The raises—7 percent to 33 percent—went into effect Jan. 1 and target computer specialists, computer engineers and computer science specialists in the GS-5 through GS-12 grades.

The FAA's separate core compensation plan is market-based and already offers salaries competitive with OPM's rates, said Daniel Mehan, the FAA's chief information officer. Many FAA computer specialists don't receive core compensation, however, because they belong to collective bargaining units that negotiate their contracts. As a result, their salaries are lower than at other agencies.

PASS filed a formal grievance Jan. 31 with FAA Administrator Jane Garvey on behalf of computer specialists in the Flight Standards unit who aren't receiving the IT raises.

Binding arbitration is the ultimate remedy PASS can pursue, said Michael Derby, union legal counsel. "We'll take every possible action we can within the law."

The FAA doesn't offer the special IT pay rates because a 1996 reauthorization act requires the agency to negotiate personnel matters, including compensation, wrote Raymond Thoman, FAA deputy assistant administrator for labor and employee relations, in a March 1 letter to Michael Fanfalone, PASS national president.

"As this is a pay matter, we believe any extension of those tables to bargaining unit employees within FAA is a change more appropriately addressed through the contract negotiations process," Thoman wrote.

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