[Questions Concerning Salary Increases for Prevailing Rate Employees]

B-216112: Jan 29, 1985

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GAO reviewed whether the maximum salary increase for prevailing rate employees in effect for fiscal year (FY) 1982, and similar pay increase caps for FY's 1983 and 1984, were applicable to wage schedules which were established pursuant to the initial application of the Monroney Amendment. The National Federation of Federal Employees, as the representative of prevailing rate employees at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, argued that the employees were erroneously denied their proper rates of pay during FY's 1982, 1983, and 1984. The area that included the base first qualified for the application of the Monroney Amendment in FY 1982. However, in establishing the wage schedules for the area, the lead agency applied the pay cap of 4.8 percent, which was applicable to federal employees in FY 1982. The National Federation of Federal Employees contended that: (1) the application of the 4.8 percent pay cap denied the employees involved the benefits intended of the Monroney Amendment; (2) the pay rates which resulted from the initial application of the Monroney Amendment to a wage area were not to be regarded as wage survey adjustments for purposes of the pay caps on prevailing rate pay increases; (3) the implementation of a new wage survey following a wage area's initial qualification for the application of the Monroney Amendment was to be distinguished from the ordinary wage survey process; and (4) it would be contrary to the doctrine disfavoring repeals by implication to hold that the caps on the annual pay adjustment of prevailing rate employees also applied to initial adjustments under the Monroney Amendment. GAO held that the higher wage rates which resulted from considering wage rates from another area as required by the Monroney Amendment must not be implemented to the extent that they exceed the statutory increase cap. GAO also determined that there was nothing in either the language or the legislative history of the Monroney Amendment which would support the view that the pay increase caps were not applicable to the initial establishment of wages under the provisions of the Monroney Amendment. GAO concluded that an adjustment of pay resulting from the initial application of the Monroney Amendment in a wage area was not exempt from the pay caps in effect during FY's 1982 through 1984.

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