Machinists win job competition, but may face pay cuts

A group of machinists at the Treasury Department's Bureau of Engraving and Printing will keep their jobs after defeating a contractor in a public-private job competition, but some may face pay cuts, an agency official said Tuesday.

The workers underbid their private competitor, Allied Aerospace Inc. of Newport News, Va., by $3.2 million over five years. "This will aid the bureau in becoming more cost effective and meeting the administration's fair competition goals," said Robert Knauer, A-76 contractor officer at the agency, in a Sept. 17 memorandum announcing the decision.

The machinists maintain presses that print money and postage stamps at the agency's Washington plant. To be competitive, the workers slashed their ranks, trimming a staff of 33 machinists down to 19.2 full-time equivalent positions. The machinists also agreed to modify their pay rates, according to James Fostek, manager of the program review division within the agency's office of administrative services.

"There will be some change as far as pay scale and pay rates," he said. "That was an integral part of the [team] winning." When asked if any machinists would have to take pay cuts, Fostek replied, "that's a possibility." Agency officials are meeting with union representatives to discuss changes to their pay scale, he said.

The agency will try to find new jobs for the 14 displaced machinists in the agency, although Fostek could not guarantee that everyone would have a job. "The bureau's philosophy has always been to do the best we can as far as placing people within the bureau," he said.

The contest was the second full-size competitive sourcing study completed at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. In June, a contractor triumphed in a competition involving 17 administrative employees.

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