B-135274, MAR. 12, 1958

B-135274: Mar 12, 1958

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A WAGE RATE SURVEY WAS CONDUCTED BY THE PHA REGIONAL OFFICE HAVING JURISDICTION OVER THAT AREA. SEVEN CLASSES OF POSITIONS WERE INVOLVED. THE RECORD SHOWS THAT SEVERAL QUESTIONS WHICH THE SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE COMMISSIONER (LABOR RELATIONS) RAISED CONCERNING THE SURVEY WERE SETTLED PRIOR TO MARCH 19. OPERATING ENGINEER (STEAM ELECTRIC)" SINCE HE FELT THAT IF THESE POSITIONS WERE IN THE . A DOUBT WAS RAISED AS TO WHETHER THE RATE FOUND AS A RESULT OF THE NEW SURVEY WOULD BE APPLICABLE TO THE POSITIONS IN QUESTION. THE SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE COMMISSIONER INSISTED ON A NEW DUTY STATEMENT SINCE HE BELIEVED CLARIFICATION WAS NECESSARY AS TO WHETHER THE SURVEY DATA SUBMITTED FOR "OPERATING ENGINEER (STEAM ELECTRIC)" WAS ACTUALLY APPLICABLE.

B-135274, MAR. 12, 1958

TO MRS. L. P. KELLS, AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER, PUBLIC HOUSING ADMINISTRATION, HOUSING AND HOME FINANCE AGENCY:

YOUR LETTER OF FEBRUARY 14, 1958, REQUESTS OUR DECISION WHETHER YOU MAY CERTIFY FOR PAYMENT A VOUCHER THEREWITH TRANSMITTED COVERING ADDITIONAL COMPENSATION, RETROACTIVE TO MARCH 22, 1957, FOR CERTAIN WAGE BOARD MAINTENANCE EMPLOYEES OF THE PUBLIC HOUSING ADMINISTRATION AT A HOUSING PROJECT OWNED BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IN MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA.

YOUR LETTER STATES, IN PART, AS FOLLOWS:

"DURING THE WEEK OF JANUARY 21, 1957, A WAGE RATE SURVEY WAS CONDUCTED BY THE PHA REGIONAL OFFICE HAVING JURISDICTION OVER THAT AREA, AND ON FEBRUARY 8, 1957 THE REGIONAL OFFICE SENT A MEMORANDUM TO THE SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE COMMISSIONER (LABOR RELATIONS/--- WHO SERVES AS THE ,WAGE BOARD" AND FINAL WAGE-FIXING AUTHORITY FOR THE PHA -- REPORTING ON THE SURVEY AND RECOMMENDING NEW AND HIGHER RATES OF PAY FOR ALL MAINTENANCE EMPLOYEE POSITIONS AT THE PROJECT. SEVEN CLASSES OF POSITIONS WERE INVOLVED, INCLUDING ONE COVERING BOILER ROOM PERSONNEL CLASSIFIED AS "OPERATING ENGINEER (STEAM ELECTRIC).' THE REGIONAL OFFICE MEMORANDUM RECOMMENDED THAT THIS TITLE BE CHANGED TO "STATIONARY ENGINEER" STATING THAT THIS TITLE WOULD BE MORE DESCRIPTIVE OF THE DUTIES INVOLVED.'

THE RECORD SHOWS THAT SEVERAL QUESTIONS WHICH THE SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE COMMISSIONER (LABOR RELATIONS) RAISED CONCERNING THE SURVEY WERE SETTLED PRIOR TO MARCH 19, 1957. HOWEVER, THE SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE COMMISSIONER REQUESTED THE REGIONAL LABOR RELATIONS OFFICER TO SUBMIT ADDITIONAL INFORMATION CONCERNING THE SUGGESTED CHANGE IN TITLE OF THE POSITIONS DESIGNATED AS ,OPERATING ENGINEER (STEAM ELECTRIC)" SINCE HE FELT THAT IF THESE POSITIONS WERE IN THE ,STATIONARY ENGINEER" SERIES, A DOUBT WAS RAISED AS TO WHETHER THE RATE FOUND AS A RESULT OF THE NEW SURVEY WOULD BE APPLICABLE TO THE POSITIONS IN QUESTION. ALTHOUGH THE REGIONAL OFFICE SOUGHT TO WITHDRAW ITS RECOMMENDATION FOR CHANGE OF POSITION TITLE, THE SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE COMMISSIONER INSISTED ON A NEW DUTY STATEMENT SINCE HE BELIEVED CLARIFICATION WAS NECESSARY AS TO WHETHER THE SURVEY DATA SUBMITTED FOR "OPERATING ENGINEER (STEAM ELECTRIC)" WAS ACTUALLY APPLICABLE.

THE RECORD INDICATES THAT BECAUSE OF EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES, BEYOND THE CONTROL OF THE EMPLOYEES INVOLVED, THE ISSUE WAS NOT CLARIFIED UNTIL ABOUT NOVEMBER 20, 1957, WHEN IT WAS DETERMINED THAT THE REGIONAL OFFICE HAD NO INFORMATION WARRANTING A CHANGE IN THE POSITION CLASSIFICATION IN QUESTION. THEREFORE, THE SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE COMMISSIONER NOTIFIED THE DIRECTOR OF PERSONNEL OF HIS APPROVAL OF THE NEW WAGE RATES FOR ALL SEVEN JOB CLASSIFICATIONS (WHICH WERE THE SAME AS HAD BEEN RECOMMENDED IN THE FIRST INSTANCE) ON NOVEMBER 20, 1957, AND THE NEW RATES WERE PUT INTO EFFECT NOVEMBER 21, 1957.

YOUR LETTER STATES THAT ALTHOUGH THE ISSUE RESULTING IN DELAY HAD DIRECTLY INVOLVED ONLY THE BOILER ROOM PERSONNEL, WAGE RATE ACTION ON THE OTHER POSITIONS WAS ALSO DEFERRED BECAUSE OF AN ADMINISTRATIVE JUDGMENT, BASED ON EXPERIENCE, THAT THE GRANTING OF WAGE INCREASES TO SOME EMPLOYEES BEFORE THEY CAN BE GRANTED TO ALL IS DETRIMENTAL TO EMPLOYEE MORALE.

YOU SAY "THE RECORD INDICATES THAT ALL THE RECOMMENDED RATES HAD RECEIVED THE APPROVAL OF THE SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE COMMISSIONER BY MARCH 19, 1957," AND "IN THE NORMAL COURSE OF EVENTS THEY WOULD HAVE BEEN MADE EFFECTIVE BY MARCH 22, 1957.' ON THAT BASIS YOU FEEL THAT THE INCREASE SHOULD BE MADE RETROACTIVE TO MARCH 22, 1957, AND THAT DENIAL OF THE BENEFIT OF THE NEW WAGE RATES FOR THE PERIOD OF MARCH 22 TO NOVEMBER 21, 1957, WOULD BE INEQUITABLE TO THE EMPLOYEES.

IN 24 COMP. GEN. 676, WE HELD, QUOTING FROM THE SYLLABUS:

"AN INCREASE IN BASIC COMPENSATION AUTHORIZED BY A WAGE BOARD OR OTHER WAGE-FIXING AUTHORITY FOR EMPLOYEES SUBJECT TO THE FORTY-HOUR WEEK STATUTE OF MARCH 28, 1934, MAY NOT BE MADE EFFECTIVE PRIOR TO THE DATE OF FINAL ACTION BY COMPETENT ADMINISTRATIVE AUTHORITY, EVEN THOUGH THE CONDITIONS JUSTIFYING THE INCREASE EXISTED PRIOR TO SUCH DATE.'

THE RECORD SHOWS THAT FINAL WAGE RATE ACTION ON ALL POSITIONS COVERED BY THE SURVEY WAS DEFERRED UNTIL A CONCLUSIVE DETERMINATION WAS MADE THAT THE SURVEY WAS APPLICABLE TO THE ,OPERATING ENGINEER (STEAM ELECTRIC)" POSITION. IT ALSO APPEARS THAT SUCH APPROVAL AS THE RECOMMENDED RATE FOR "OPERATING ENGINEER (STEAM ELECTRIC)" MAY HAVE RECEIVED FROM THE SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE COMMISSIONER BY MARCH 19, 1957, WAS NOT FINAL APPROVAL SINCE, AT THAT TIME, IT HAD NOT BEEN DETERMINED THAT THE RECOMMENDED RATE WAS APPLICABLE TO THE POSITION.

THEREFORE, SINCE FINAL ACTION TO PUT THE NEW WAGE RATES INTO EFFECT WAS NOT TAKEN BY THE SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE COMMISSIONER UNTIL NOVEMBER 19, 1957, PAYMENT OF ADDITIONAL COMPENSATION, RETROACTIVE TO MARCH 22, 1957, MAY NOT BE MADE TO THE WAGE BOARD EMPLOYEES IN QUESTION. HENCE, THE SUBMITTED VOUCHER MAY NOT BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.