Comparison of Collectively Bargained and Administratively Set Pay Rates for Federal Employees

FPCD-82-49: Published: Jul 2, 1982. Publicly Released: Jul 9, 1982.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO compared the compensation of federal employees, who collectively bargain for wages, with General Schedule and Federal Wage System employees. GAO also examined the history and extent of collective bargaining for wages in state and local governments.

Federal employees who bargain for pay usually are paid more than their General Schedule and Federal Wage System counterparts. In 96 percent of comparisons covering 17 occupations, GAO found that collective bargaining employees earned from $491 to $13,583 more in fiscal year 198l than their Federal Wage System counterparts. In addition, postal letter carriers covered by the Postal Service bargaining agreement were paid $5,490 more in fiscal year 1981 than their General Schedule counterparts. Over the past 9 years, the cumulative percentage of pay increases for nonpostal collective bargaining employees has been comparable to Federal Wage System employees' increases but has far outpaced General Schedule employees' pay raises. Because of differences among the pay systems, agencies are having difficulty preserving a pay differential between General Schedule supervisors and nonpostal collective bargaining and Federal Wage System blue-collar employees. More and more supervisors find themselves supervising blue-collar employees whose basic pay exceeds their own. At the state and local government level, there has been an increase in collective bargaining for wages. Today, 30 states and the District of Columbia permit wage negotiations for about 3.3 million public employees. Negotiated wage settlements, however, are subject to budgetary and legislative approval.

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