New Recruits

A group of disgruntled FAA employees tries to woo more workers to their cause.

A group of Federal Aviation Administration employees that has taken legal action against the agency are attempting to add to its numbers.

The employees previously appealed to the agency to uncap their salaries, and finally resorted to legal action in March. Under the FAA's performance pay system, more than 800 long-term employees have reached the top of their pay bands and are not eligible for base salary increases. They are able to receive lump-sum annual awards for good performance, but the employees say they are losing thousands of dollars in retirement benefits, locality pay increases and overtime pay. At the same time, however, thousands of other FAA employees are exempt from this rule because of union agreements or because they already were above the maximum pay limit when the rule on pay caps went into effect.

The agency has repeatedly insisted that the solution is to bring all employees into the system, not exempt more employees from it. In May, the FAA brought in Joseph Miniace as the agency's deputy assistant administrator for strategic labor management relations. His job is to bring the exempt union employees into the pay cap arrangement.

The disgruntled employees are skeptical that Miniace can succeed. On June 6, the group appealed to FAA employees who are just now reaching the top of their pay bands and who are experiencing the cap for the first time.

"I'm sending this message to you because you have been identified to me by the FAA as being at the top of your pay band," wrote Tim O'Hara, the group's leader.

The message and several supporting documents were sent to about 1,130 employees.

"The Core Compensation System, as currently constructed, is not a personnel payment system," O'Hara wrote. "It is a 'caste' system, with clear groups of employees being the 'haves,' vs. us as the distinct 'have nots.'"

O'Hara estimates that more than 22,000 FAA employees are exempt from the payband caps and less than 3,000 are affected by the policy.