FAA, union head to arbitration

The Federal Aviation Administration and a union that represents 800 of its computer specialists have agreed to go to binding arbitration by June to resolve a union complaint that its information technology workers should receive the governmentwide IT pay raise.

The FAA and the Professional Airways Systems Specialists agreed on an arbitrator last week to aid in the resolution, said Michael Derby, legal counsel for PASS, which represents FAA technicians.

PASS is preparing its witnesses, documents and arguments for the hearing that could happen as early as late May, Derby said.

On March 1, the FAA rejected the grievance PASS had filed Jan. 31 that asked the agency to automatically offer the Office of Personnel Management's special IT pay rates to workers in its Flight Standards unit who are not covered by the FAA's market-based core compensation system and are still on the GS pay scale.

OPM's special IT raises of 7 percent to 33 percent are designed to offer more competitive salaries and increase recruitment of computer specialists, computer engineers and computer science specialists in the GS-5 through GS-12 grades. However, the FAA decided not to apply the raise because the agency's separate core compensation plan is market-based, similar to OPM's special IT pay rates.

However, many FAA computer specialists don't receive core compensation because they are part of collective bargaining units that negotiate their own contracts. PASS disagreed with the response it received from the FAA, which said the agency's reauthorization act of 1996 requires the FAA to negotiate any such changes it makes to compensation and other personnel matters.

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