General Services Administration, Region 3, and American Federation of Government Employees, Local 2151, Entitlement to Environmental Differential

B-193824: Mar 22, 1979

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An advance decision was requested regarding the entitlement of certain employees of the General Services Administration (GSA), Region 3, to environmental differential. GSA stated that there had been mistakes of fact and that it has been ordered by the Federal Labor Relations Council to make payments which were without legal or regulatory basis. The American Federation of Government Employees, Local 2151 filed a grievance in 1974 claiming that there were hazardous working conditions which existed at a plant of GSA, Region 3, and which entitled certain employees to environmental differential. GSA conducted a study of the conditions at the plant and authorized payment for workers exposed to working conditions pursuant to the criteria for "high work." Shortly thereafter, GSA received an informal advisory opinion from the Civil Service Commission. As a result GSA decided that the conditions did not meet the high work criteria and rescinded the pay authorization. The Union filed an unfair labor practice complaint alleging improper action on the part of GSA. The agency's action was reviewed by the Assistant Secretary of Labor and the Federal Labor Relations Council. Their decision held that GSA, by unilaterally terminating the authorization of environmental differential, had violated the applicable labor regulations. GAO will not substitute judgment for that of the Assistant Secretary or the Council where it is unable to conclude that implementation of the grievance settlement agreement is contrary to law or regulation or that the agreement itself is arbitrary or capricious. Accordingly, the decisions of the Assistant Secretary of Labor and the Federal Labor Relations Council were affirmed and the order to reinstate the grievance settlement agreement authorization of an environmental differential may be legally implemented.