Army depot appeals $49 million asbestos settlement

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.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

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

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


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