Reassignments net pay raises for IT workers at Florida base

Officials at a Navy facility in Orlando, Fla. have resolved a pay raise dispute by reclassifying approximately 300 employees' positions. The positions were reclassified to make the employees eligible for a new federal information technology worker pay raise after union officials raised concerns about pay disparity. The Office of Personnel Management announced the new pay hike in early November. It applies only to certain positions at grades GS-5 through GS-12 in covered occupational series. They are: computer specialists (GS-334), computer engineers (GS-854) and computer scientists (GS-1550). Lorraine Tuliano, president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 2113 at the Naval Air Warfare Center in Orlando, Fla., questioned the effect a pay raise would have on union members who were not in the covered occupational series, but who perform essentially the same work as employees who did qualify for the raise. Alan Lunin, a labor specialist at the Center, questioned the negotiability of the issue. But on Dec. 15 management called an "emergency meeting," Tuliano said. "They recognized that there was an inequity set up with some employees still being classified as 854 and other employees being classified as 855 doing essentially the same work," Tuliano said. The GS-855 occupational series also covers computer engineers. After the meeting, officials at the Warfare Center decided to convert qualified 855 employees in grades GS-5 to GS-12 into the 854 series to make them eligible for the pay raise, which became effective in January. "It would be inherently unfair for employees to perform the same duties and all not be paid at the same rate," said a memorandum to Naval employees from the facility's Human Resources office. "Thus, it was determined by management that all 855 engineering positions … should be reviewed." Some employees at the center in GS-13 and higher pay grades are disgruntled about not getting the pay raise, Tuliano said. Alan Balutis, co-chair of the federal Chief Information Officers Council's E-Government Committee, said the IT pay raise was a good first step for the federal government, despite problems like those at the Naval Air Warfare Center. "Rather than get this perfect, it was better to make some progress and try to fix some of the problems that emerge," Balutis said. "You want to be sure you include all of the right people, but you want to be sure that it's not just everybody who says 'Hey, jeez, I use a PC, I should be getting this, too.' "
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