Army depot appeals $49 million asbestos settlement

klunney@govexec.com

The Corpus Christi Army Depot has filed an appeal of an arbitrator's decision to award $49 million to 2,000 employees exposed to asbestos for several years.

Although the depot appealed the case last week, both sides will continue to negotiate a settlement, hoping to avoid the potentially costly appeal process, which could take five years to resolve.

Three major labor unions-the American Federation of Government Employees, International Association of Machinists, and National Federation of Federal Employees-filed a grievance against the depot in 1997, charging that employees were exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos in the workplace over the last several years. Exposure to unsafe amounts of asbestos can lead to significant health problems.

The $49 million settlement is a reimbursement in back pay for employees who did not receive the requisite pay increase, known as environmental differential pay, for working in hazardous environments.

According to a spokesman for the Corpus Christi depot, there are "obviously a lot of people interested in this case" for a variety of reasons. Top-level depot staff have been cautious about releasing information to the media due to the ongoing litigation.

The depot is objecting primarily to the arbitrator's embrace of a zero-tolerance policy toward asbestos in the workplace when he ruled in favor of employees. The Army claims that asbestos levels at the depot are in accordance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards.

However, lawyers for the employees argue that the OSHA standard "does not require proof of actual or even likely injury in order for WG [wage grade] employees to recover" environmental differential pay. The depot has counterattacked by noting that a requirement in the environmental differential pay statute stipulates that working conditions must be unusually severe for employees to receive the pay increase.

The average length of tenure for a depot employee is 17 years. Asbestos-related illness generally takes between 10 and 25 years to develop. Long-term exposure to asbestos increases the risk of illness.

The Army filed the appeal with the Federal Labor Relations Authority. If the agency loses its appeal with the authority, it can still file one with a federal appeals court.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.