Some Pay Frozen, Some Resentment In The Ranks
Imagine working next to someone who does the very same job and
is evaluated at the very same level -- but makes $3,000 more a year
than you do.
At the FAA, they're not imagining it. That's life. In fact, some
FAA workers say they're losing up to $5,000 a year because of the
agency's eight-year old performance pay plan. The problem may not
even be the plan so much as the exemptions to the plan. The Federal
Times reports, of the 19,000 or so FAA workers whose pay can be
capped, more than 800 of them are already capped out. On the other
hand, their coworkers in the same job make more money only because
of when they joined the organization or because of the benefits
their unions have negotiated with the government.
Woitaszek is a staff specialist at the AFSS in Buffalo, NY. He
doesn't belong to a union -- which is why his salary is capped
three years before he can retire. The FAA says its market surveys
show Woitaszek and his colleagues make scads more than what they'd
be paid in the private sector, so there's no real incentive for the
government to give him a raise.
"What about the guy right next to me making $3,000 more, doing
the same thing?" the 52-year old Woitaszek asked the Federal Times.
"That’s the thing that bothers me. I don’t think
"The problem I have is all the exemptions they’ve given
out," said Mark Lash, manager of the FAA’s civil aviation
registry in Oklahoma City, in an interview with the Federal Times.
"More than half are already being exempt by the policy, so why is
it applying to us?"
But that may be changing. At a town
hall-style meeting with employees last month, Administrator Marion
Blakey said she's working on a more equitable pay system. Her
Assistant Administrator for Human Resources, Ventris Gibson, says
the FAA will begin addressing the issue when it sits down to
bargain with its various unions.
"It’s our intent to bring some uniformity to how these
matters affect the work force," Gibson told the Times. "Making sure
we have a system that’s perceived as fair to all is critical
That effort, however, may be blocked by union negotiators. "The
agency isn’t looking at raising the bar for the small group
of employees who aren’t getting their full pay raises. The
agency is looking at lowering the bar for the large group of
employees who are," said PASS President Tom Brantley. "An arbitrary
pay cap that’s designed to do nothing but drive wages down,
as a union, is something we’re not going to agree with."