FAA appeals pay decision

The Federal Aviation Administration has appealed an arbitrator's decision ordering the agency to give computer specialists the information technology pay raise issued governmentwide by the Office of Personnel Management this year.

In a brief issued this month, FAA labor relations specialist Michael Herlihy argued that the agency's Personnel Management System (PMS), authorized under a 1996 appropriations act, gives the FAA administrator the freedom to decide—with employees' input—about personnel matters, regardless of OPM directives.

"New regulations or directives do not 'automatically' apply unless the FAA chooses to adopt them as agency policy or rules under [its] own [granted] authority," Herlihy wrote. "In such a case, the agency must negotiate with employees' exclusive representative."

Because PMS rules went into effect April 1, 2001, the FAA did not have to bargain with employees when it decided not to adopt the new OPM regulation, he wrote.

OPM issued a governmentwide pay raise for workers in the GS-334 series that went into effect Jan. 1, 2001. When the FAA decided not to issue the raise, the Professional Airways Systems Specialists union filed a grievance on behalf of about 100 computer specialists in the FAA's Flight Standards unit.

PASS and the FAA agreed to arbitration, and in late August, arbitrator Suzanne Butler ruled that the FAA was required to issue the pay raise to computer specialists not covered by a negotiated pay system.

The Federal Labor Relations Authority will take up the FAA's appeal and may not issue a final decision until next year, said Michael Derby, PASS general counsel. FAA officials were unavailable for comment.

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