The Carter administration hopes to soothe the job jitters of worried, reorganization wary bureaucrats with legislation to minimize the financial jolt to workers whose jobs are down-graded because of shakecups and agency mergers.
Fear of downgrading has reached almost epidemic proportions within government. Some officials are afraid it could hamper the reorganization the President wants because of bueaucrats - and their congressional allies - dragging their feet to save their jobs.
Partly to help the President deliver on his "nobody-will-get-hurt" reorganization promise to government workers, the Office of Management and Budget has drafted a bill that would guarantee the salaries of employees demoted through no fault of their own.
Agencies have been asked to return the OMB draft plan quickly with comments so that a bill can be readied for final draft by the White House.
Under the OMB proposal, workers who are downgraded would retain their current salary level. Each time there is a general federal pay raise (each October) those downgraded employees in so-called "red-lined" jobs would get one half the pay increase until their salary matches that of the salary for their new, lower-graded job. The idea is to gradullay ease them into the new grade without a terrific financial jolt.
Under the present law, employees who are downgraded may have their salaries "saved" for 24 months. After that they must revert to the salary level of their new, lower grade.
Chairman Robert N.C. Nix (D-Pa.) - as reported here Monday - is working on a no-fault, pay-saving bill that will be handled by his House Post Office-Cilvil Service Committee.
Nix would permit employees in jobs that were downgraded to keep both pay and grade as long as they remained in the position. Only when they leave the job would they be downgraded.
Rep. Herbert Harris (D-Va.) has already introduced legislation that would gaurantee both the pay and grade of workers whose jobs are downgraded. Under harris' plan, the job would autmoatically be kept at the pay and grade of the incumbent if the position had been at the same grade for three years or more.
Whatever plan ocmes out on top, federal officials are convinced there must be added legislative protection against downgrading for three reasons:
To provide equity to the employees involved whose jobs may be down-graded through no fault of their own.
To block any bureaucratic opposition to reorganization that - no matter whay anybody says - will trigger major downgrading actions.
To give President Carter a vehicle to deliver on his promise that nobody will get hurt because of reorganization.
Insiders expect agencies that begin reorganizations will - as HEW has already done - freeze reorganization-related downgradings until Congress and the White House can come up with a no-fault downgrading package. Otherwise President Carter, who has told federal workers to call him if they have any job problems, is going to have to get several phone extensions.