Government workers threatened with no-fault demotions would get lifetime pay and grade protection under legislation Rep., Robert N.C. Nix (D-Pa.) hopes to push through Congress. His bill also would restore the salary and grades lost by all federal workers since July 1, 1975, if their demotions were the result of a classification error by the government.
Nix, chairman, of the House Post Office-Civil Service Committee, has given the green light for June 20 (tentative date) hearings to begin before Rep. Gladys N. Spellman's (D-Md.) subcommittee which handles pay and federal benefits.
The Spellman unit will get a detailed report from the investigations subcommitte that Nix also heads, documenting alleged horror stories on downgradings in federal agencies from California to Pennsylvania to D.C.
Although it covers a great deal of bureaucratic territority, the Nix bill is relatively simple in scope. It would protect the pay and grade of workers whose jobs are determined to be overgraded because of previous classification errors or actions. It would extend to no-fault downgrading actions which have taken place since July 1, 1975.
The Nix bill would mean that employees whose jobs are due to be downgraded would be protected in pay and grade for as long as they remain in a particular job. The job, however, would be "red-circled" for future action. It would be dropped back to the proper pay and classification level when the incumbent left it for any reason.
Nix figures that his plan - in addition to being humane from the employee standpoint - could save Uncle Sam money by eliminating many costly, time-consuming grievance actions brought by employees.
It is important to bear in mind what that Nix bill - if it becomes law - will not do. It will not cover the jobs of any federal workers (and these total in the thousands) who could be demoted because of reorganization or reduction-in-force actions.
Although President Carter has publicly pledged that no civil servant would lose pay, grade or a job because of his reorganization, that promise is still written on the wind. There is no legal way, now that agencies can undergo a major reorganization without some employees being hit hard in grade and pay.
It will be up to the White House to propose legislation - probably similar to Nix's bill - that would give pay and grade protection to federal workers hit by reorganization actions. The Civil Service Commission is working on a plan, but Nix wants to forge ahead with his bill.
That certainly should put pressure on the government to come up with an equal-treatment form of job protection for employees.
Meantime, Nix (and Spellman) are planning to write Carter and ask him to declare a moratorium on all downgradings for the rest of the year. Effect of that would be to block any demotions (except for punishment, or voluntary demotions) until a law can go on the books to guarantee lifetime demotion protection.