Ruling gives FAA unit IT raise

An arbitrator has ruled that computer specialists at a Federal Aviation Administration unit are entitled to the governmentwide information technologypay raise that went into effect Jan. 1.

The action could open the door for other FAA IT workers who were denied the raise to receive it as well.

The arbitrator ruled that IT workers in the FAA's Flight Standards unit who were passed over for the raise are entitled to it and ordered the agency to provide back pay. The workers, about 100 in all, are members of the Professional Airways Systems Specialists (PASS) union, which represented them in the case and announced the decision Thursday.

In denying the special raise that the Office of Personnel Management awarded to other federal IT workers in January, FAA officials said they believed their own core-compensation plan already provided competitive salaries. While some FAA IT workers are currently paid more than they would be even after the OPM raise — which ranged from 7 percent to 33 percent — others on the core compensation plan are not.

PASS filed its grievance in January on behalf of the latter group. In March, the FAA and the union agreed to arbitration.

PASS National President Michael Fanfalone estimated that the retroactiv epay will total about $250,000. In addition, under arbitration rules, PASS is entitled to reimbursement for attorney's fees, he said.

"I'm pleased with the arbitrator's decision and disappointed that it had to go to that extent to do the right thing," he said. "Our folks are ecstatic."

FAA officials said it was too soon to comment on the decision, which it received Wednesday. "We've just received it, and we are reviewing the document," said FAA spokeswoman Marcia Adams.

Fanfalone said he wasn't sure whether the agency would appeal the decision. He also expressed doubt over whether FAA Administrator Jane Garvey would, in light of the decision, give the pay raise to agency IT workers at other units who were also passed over.

"My guts tell me she'll ignore my request, and that's what she did with this one," Fanfalone said.

Keith Bennett, secretary of American Federation of Government Employees Local 2282, said the decision should provide leverage in union efforts to have the raise provided to IT workers at the FAA's Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City. The union and center management agreed to delay resolving the dispute until the PASS arbitration was decided, he said. Now that PASS has won, Bennett is "99 percent" sure that the workers he represents will be paid, too.

"We feel pretty sure that now that PASS has succeeded, it should flow down," he said, but added, "It makes sense, but that doesn't necessarily mean that will happen."

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