FLRA Affirms NTEU Win on Back Pay for Employees Who Did Not Receive Within Grade Increases in 2002


6/5/08: The Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) ruled in favor of NTEU this week, affirming a decision of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) that the SEC is required to make back pay distributions to all SEC employees who should have received within grade increases (WIGIs) in 2002.

This case began when NTEU filed an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) complaint against the SEC in 2002, asserting that the agency had violated federal labor law by unilaterally implementing its new Pay Parity system and terminating WIGIs without first completing bargaining with the union. The SEC ceased giving employees WIGIs as of May 19, 2002. This decision adversely affected many employees who were due to receive salary raises. This state of affairs continued for approximately six months until November 8, 2002, when the Federal Service Impasses Panel finally issued a decision regarding the compensation negotiations impasse between NTEU and the SEC.

In response to NTEU's complaint, the SEC argued that compensation issues are “non-negotiable” and that “exigent circumstances” existed to justify implementation prior to the completion of bargaining with the union. However, in December 2005, ALJ Richard Pearson issued a decision rejecting the SEC’s arguments and ruling that the agency had indeed committed a ULP by unilaterally implementing the new Pay Parity system. As part of his decision, the ALJ ordered the SEC to provide back pay, with interest, to all employees who were scheduled to receive a WIGI during the period between May 19, 2002 and November 8, 2002.

In early 2006 the SEC appealed the ALJ's decision to the full FLRA, rather than simply paying the affected employees the compensation that they were owed as a result of the agency's violation of federal labor law. As a consequence, the full FLRA panel was required to review the decision of the ALJ. The FLRA finally issued its decision this week resolving the issue in NTEU's favor.

"The union is ready to work with the SEC to identify those employees who should have received a WIGI during the relevant period in 2002 and get them the back pay that they deserve," Chapter 293 President Greg Gilman stated in response to the FLRA's decision.

Chapter 293 will keep you updated regarding this matter.