B-62589, JANUARY 21, 1947, 26 COMP. GEN. 513

B-62589: Jan 21, 1947

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" SUCH EMPLOYEES WHOSE PAY RATES ARE TO BE CONVERTED FROM CLASSIFICATION ACT SCHEDULES TO HOURLY SCHEDULES DETERMINED BY WAGE-BOARD PROCEDURE MAY NOT BE SAVED WITHIN-GRADE SALARY ADVANCEMENTS PREVIOUSLY EARNED UNDER THE CLASSIFICATION ACT IF THE TOTAL RATE. WHO ARE TO BE CONVERTED TO HOURLY WAGE SCHEDULES. THE RATES FOR WHICH ARE DETERMINED BY WAGE BOARD PROCEDURE AND APPLY TO POSITIONS IN THE TRADES AND CRAFTS NOT SUBJECT TO THE CLASSIFICATION ACT. APPROPRIATIONS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE TO NATIONAL CAPITAL PARKS ARE CONTAINED IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA APPROPRIATION ACT AND IN THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT APPROPRIATION ACT. WAGE BOARD REGULATIONS PROVIDE THAT NO PRESENT EMPLOYEE (WHEN CONVERTED TO WAGE BOARD PROCEDURE) WILL SUFFER ANY REDUCTION IN HIS BASIC HOURLY WAGE RATE AS A RESULT OF THE PROMULGATION OF WAGE RATES ADOPTED.

B-62589, JANUARY 21, 1947, 26 COMP. GEN. 513

COMPENSATION - NATIONAL CAPITAL PARKS EMPLOYEES - CONVERSION FROM CLASSIFICATION ACT SCHEDULES TO LOCAL PREVAILING PER DIEM RATES - SAVING OF PREVIOUSLY EARNED WITHIN-GRADE ADVANCEMENTS IN VIEW OF THE PROVISIONS IN THE CURRENT APPROPRIATIONS ACTS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AND THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT FOR PAYING NATIONAL CAPITAL PARKS PER DIEM EMPLOYEES AT RATES "NOT EXCEEDING CURRENT RATES OF PAY FOR SIMILAR EMPLOYMENT IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA," SUCH EMPLOYEES WHOSE PAY RATES ARE TO BE CONVERTED FROM CLASSIFICATION ACT SCHEDULES TO HOURLY SCHEDULES DETERMINED BY WAGE-BOARD PROCEDURE MAY NOT BE SAVED WITHIN-GRADE SALARY ADVANCEMENTS PREVIOUSLY EARNED UNDER THE CLASSIFICATION ACT IF THE TOTAL RATE, INCLUDING SUCH WITHIN-GRADE ADVANCEMENTS, WOULD EXCEED THE PREVAILING LOCAL RATE.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, JANUARY 21, 1947:

THIS DEPARTMENT HAS FOR CONSIDERATION THE PROPRIETY OF WAGE RATE PAYMENTS TO EMPLOYEES CURRENTLY PAID UNDER SALARY SCHEDULES OF THE CLASSIFICATION ACT OF 1923, AS AMENDED, BUT WHO ARE TO BE CONVERTED TO HOURLY WAGE SCHEDULES, THE RATES FOR WHICH ARE DETERMINED BY WAGE BOARD PROCEDURE AND APPLY TO POSITIONS IN THE TRADES AND CRAFTS NOT SUBJECT TO THE CLASSIFICATION ACT.

APPROPRIATIONS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE TO NATIONAL CAPITAL PARKS ARE CONTAINED IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA APPROPRIATION ACT AND IN THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT APPROPRIATION ACT, BOTH OF WHICH ROVIDE:

"* * * PER DIEM EMPLOYEES AT RATES OF PAY APPROVED BY THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, NOT EXCEEDING CURRENT RATES OF PAY FOR SIMILAR EMPLOYMENT IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA; * * *" (ITALICS SUPPLIED.)

WAGE BOARD REGULATIONS PROVIDE THAT NO PRESENT EMPLOYEE (WHEN CONVERTED TO WAGE BOARD PROCEDURE) WILL SUFFER ANY REDUCTION IN HIS BASIC HOURLY WAGE RATE AS A RESULT OF THE PROMULGATION OF WAGE RATES ADOPTED.

THERE ARE A LARGE NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES IN THE TRADES AND CRAFTS, AND LABORER POSITIONS IN NATIONAL CAPITAL PARKS, WHO BY REASON OF THEIR FAITHFUL PERFORMANCE OF DUTY AND THEIR LONG YEARS OF SERVICE, HAVE RECEIVED SUFFICIENT AUTOMATIC INCREASES TO REACH THE HIGHER STEPS IN THE GRADES TO WHICH THEIR JOBS ARE NOW ALLOCATED. IN SOME OF THESE CASES EQUIVALENT HOURLY RATES OF COMPENSATION EXCEED CURRENT RATES OF PAY FOR SIMILAR EMPLOYMENT IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.

INASMUCH AS THE APPROVED WAGE SCHEDULE PROVIDES THAT NO PRESENT EMPLOYEE SHALL SUFFER A LOSS IN PAY AS A RESULT OF THE OPERATION OF THE SCHEDULE, AND THE APPROPRIATION LANGUAGE PROVIDES THAT RATES OF PAY CANNOT EXCEED CURRENT RATES OF PAY FOR SIMILAR EMPLOYMENT, THERE MAY BE A CONFLICT BETWEEN THE APPROVED WAGE RATE SCHEDULE AND THE AUTHORITY CONTAINED IN THE APPROPRIATION ACT.

THE DEPARTMENT DESIRES TO SUBMIT FOR YOUR DECISION THE QUESTION AS TO WHETHER PAYMENT OF WAGE BOARD RATES TO THOSE EMPLOYEES IN ADVANCED STEP RATES OF THE CLASSIFICATION GRADES, WHERE TOTAL PAY EXCEEDS THE PREVAILING RATE, IS ACTUALLY IN CONFLICT WITH THE SPIRIT AND INTENT OF THE APPROPRIATION ACTS.

CURRENT RATES OF THESE EMPLOYEES UNDER THE CLASSIFICATION ACT SCHEDULES ARE A COMBINATION OF BASE ANNUAL RATES PLUS THE AUTOMATIC INCREASES ACCORDING TO EFFICIENCY AND LENGTH OF SERVICE OF THE EMPLOYEE CONCERNED. THE WAGE BOARD PROCEDURE WHICH PROVIDES THAT NO EMPLOYEE SUFFER A REDUCTION IS BASED ON THE CONSIDERATION THAT IT WOULD BE UNFAIR AND INEQUITABLE TO WITHDRAW PAY EARNED AS A REWARD FOR EFFICIENCY AND LENGTH OF SERVICE. THE EMPLOYEES REFERRED TO WHO ARE PAID UNDER WAGE BOARD PROCEDURE ARE NOT ADVANCED IN PAY PERIODICALLY.

IT IS NOT UNUSUAL IN WAGE BOARD PROCEDURE WHERE THROUGH EFFICIENCY AND LENGTH OF SERVICE AN EMPLOYEE HAS BEEN ADVANCED IN SALARY TO PAY THEM INCUMBENT RATE WHICH MAY BE IN EXCESS OF THE PREVAILING RATE. RATES ADOPTED BY NATIONAL CAPITAL PARKS WAGE BOARD ARE PREVAILING BASE RATES. SINCE RATES NOW PAID NATIONAL CAPITAL PARKS EMPLOYEES UNDER CLASSIFICATION ACT SCHEDULES CONSIST OF BASE RATES COMBINED WITH PAY BASED ON EFFICIENCY AND LENGTH OF SERVICE WOULD IT BE PROPER TO PAY BASE RATES OF THE NATIONAL CAPITAL PARKS WAGE BOARD, WHICH ARE PREVAILING AND DO NOT EXCEED CURRENT RATES OF PAY FOR SIMILAR EMPLOYMENT IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, AND IN ADDITION CARRY OVER INTO THE EMPLOYEES' NEW STATUS, UNDER WAGE BOARD PROCEDURE, THE ADDITIONAL PAY OF EACH INDIVIDUAL EARNED IN HIS PREVIOUS STATUS UNDER CLASSIFICATION?

THE APPROPRIATIONS REFERRED TO IN YOUR LETTER ARE THOSE CONTAINED IN PUBLIC LAW 478, 60 STAT. 348, 377 ( INTERIOR DEPARTMENT), AND PUBLIC LAW 493, 60 STAT. 501, 521 ( DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA), APPROVED JULY 1 AND JULY 9, 1946, RESPECTIVELY.

THE PROVISION OF THE APPROPRIATIONS QUOTED IN YOUR LETTER APPEARS SUSCEPTIBLE OF ONLY ONE INTERPRETATION, NAMELY, THAT ANY RATE OF COMPENSATION FOR THE PER DIEM EMPLOYEES HERE INVOLVED IN EXCESS OF THAT FOR SIMILAR EMPLOYMENT IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA IS PROHIBITED REGARDLESS OF WHETHER SUCH EXCESSIVE AMOUNT DOES OR DOES NOT REPRESENT AUTOMATIC WITHIN-GRADE SALARY ADVANCEMENTS EARNED IN POSITIONS UNDER THE CLASSIFICATION ACT OF 1923, AS AMENDED. ANY OTHER CONCLUSION WOULD BE CONTRARY TO THE PLAIN TERMS OF THE STATUTES, THERE BEING NO APPARENT AMBIGUITY IN THE LANGUAGE OF SAID STATUTES TO WARRANT A RESORT TO EXTRINSIC AIDS FOR THE PURPOSE OF ESTABLISHING ANY INTENT OTHER THAN THAT OBVIOUS FROM THE CLEAR IMPORT OF THE WORDS USED THEREIN.

HENCE, WHERE THE TOTAL RATE OF PAY INCLUDING AUTOMATIC WITHIN-GRADE SALARY ADVANCEMENTS OF SUCH EMPLOYEES EXCEEDS THE CURRENT RATE OF PAY FOR SIMILAR EMPLOYMENT IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, IT WILL BE NECESSARY THAT SUCH RATES OF PAY BE REDUCED TO ACCORD WITH THOSE IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.