Casey: 2013 Is Unacceptable Timeline for End to Tobyhanna Pay Dispute

WASHINGTON, DC— In response to the recommendation for further study and delay by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today told the Federal Prevailing Rate Advisory Committee (FPRAC) to expedite any additional study into the pay dispute at Tobyhanna Army Depot and to provide clear guidance and greater transparency on the process of review.

“While I can appreciate the need to examine the impact of a change that impacts the Federal Wage System, I cannot understand the six months it has taken OPM to initiate a reexamination with your committee,” wrote Senator Casey. “This delay is made even worse by the additional delay that OPM has suggested by tying implementation to the federal pay freeze. OPM is not required to hold off implementation until 2013, it has chosen to do so. While it does, thousands of Pennsylvanians await fair pay.”

On October 21, 2010, FPRAC voted to approve a fix to allow all employees to be covered by the New York Labor Market locality pay system and sent the decision to OPM Director John Berry for approval.

Over six months later, no decision has been released, and OPM today suggested FPRAC initiate a reexamination of the issue.

A full copy of Senator Casey’s letter to FPRAC Chairman Sheldon Friedman is below.

Dear Chairman Friedman:

Today the Federal Prevailing Rate Advisory Committee (FPRAC) will discuss a recent recommendation from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to delay the final decision on the October 21, 2010 recommendation regarding changes to the Federal Wage System Wage Area boundaries. As FPRAC evaluates this recommendation, I would like to communicate the concerns I have with OPM’s position on this issue and encourage the Committee to move forward quickly and with the understanding that thousands of workers livelihoods are tied to your decisions.

I was encouraged by the October 21, 2010 recommendation issued by FPRAC, which reflected a passage of a motion to disallow Federal Wage System wage areas to split General Schedule locality pay areas. The consequence of this recommendation would mean the end of a pay disparity at Tobyhanna Army Depot between the General Schedule (GS) employees, who are included in the more generous New York Labor Market locality pay system, and the Federal Wage System (FWS) employees who are not. As you know, this scenario has produced instability in the workforce by dampening morale among affected employees who feel that they are being treated unequally with no justification. I was further encouraged by correspondence I received from you in November 2010, which explained that the proposal was accepted and transmitted to the OPM Director John Berry for final approval.

Six months later, no such decision has been reached. Instead, OPM has determined that further study is required. While I can appreciate the need to examine the impact of a change that impacts the Federal Wage System, I cannot understand the six months it has taken OPM to initiate a reexamination with your committee. This delay is made even worse by the additional delay that OPM has suggested by tying implementation to the federal pay freeze. OPM is not required to hold off implementation until 2013, it has chosen to do so. While it does, thousands of Pennsylvanians await fair pay.

If FPRAC agrees that further study is necessary, I ask that you move quickly to answer the outstanding questions, so that OPM can make a final decision and move immediately to implement the recommendations. In addition, I ask that your Committee provide clear guidance on the process of review and timeline to add greater transparency to this issue.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator

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