Good news is coming for at least some of the thousands of federal workers facing demotions and pay cuts. These are people whose jobs have been - or will be - targeted for downgrading because it has been officially determined that the work they are doing isn't worth the rank or pay they get.

Nobody knows for sure how many federal workers are overgraded or undergraded, either because job duties have changed, or because of past clasification errors. In most cases, however, the employee who is about to be demoted (in the case of a discovery of overgrading) isn't at fault. He or she got the job and took it on the good faith assumption that it had been properly graded.

Most federal agencies agree that they have overgrading problems. But few of them want to chop employees down without giving them sufficient notice (and time) to find other comparable grades, or to restructure jobs so that the grades can be justified and saved.

The good news is that Civil Service Commission staff members are putting the final touches on the proposed guidelines that agencies will have to meet if they want to freeze downgrading actions. HEW has already been given authority to defer downgradings resulting from classification errors until the late 1979.

But other agencies haven't, and while they can apply for equal treatment, they don't know how to ask for it. The guidelines, which should go to CSC's three commissioners soon, will tell them how to apply for the freeze authority and what to say so they can qualify for it.

A number of agencies have been using various rules and administrative procedures to delay downgradings actions, which - in many cases - are supposed to take place within four months of discovery that the job is overgraded. Defense, has frozen demotions because of mis classification pending the guidelines from CSC.

Whether Defense, the largest employer in Washington, or other agencies will use the guidelines once they have read them is another matter. The point is that they don't have anything to go on now. No agency knows what CSC wants for justifying a demotion freeze. That information is on the way.

CSC officials caution that the demolition freeze authority won't be automatic. Agencies will have to show, they say, that the impact of the demotions is widespread, and would have an adverse effect on the agency's or department's mission. HEW qualified, they say, because it faced potential demotions of up to 27 per cent of staff in some areas and also because it is undergoing a major reorganization.

CSC's guidelines will not deal with demotions caused solely by reorganization. That is another ball game, one covered by President Carter's often-repeated pledge that nobody will be fired, demoted or hurt because of reorganization.

Some people at the Defense Department and the CIA would argue that promise doesn't mean much in their hallowed halls. Both are letting people go because of headquarters cuts. Both Defense and the CIA say that the actions, involving thousands of Washington-area employees, are not "reorganizations" but are reductions in force, realignments or management restructuring. Anything but reorganizations.

Defense officials may - just may - be in for a surprise. There is the possibility that You-Know-Who may soon decide that the Pentagon realignment really is a reorganization, and therefore that employees are covered by his nobody-gets-hurt pledge. Just what that would mean for workers who have already left isn't clear.

Top Defense officials say it is unlikely that the headquarters cut will be considered a reorganization. But some equally high-ranking people across town say it is a possibility.

Federal Election Commission Some workers of the politically troubled agency are talking with the aggressive National TREASURY Employees Union. Object: to make NTEU, which has a super-successful legal team, its bargaining agent.

Labor Peace Talks: The public employees department of the AFL-CIO has asked the Labor Department to settle its dispute with the union, which represents most Labor Department workers. Labor and AFGE Local 12 have been without a contract for months, primarily because Labor backed out of an agreement made last year to give Labor Department workers priority placement in many headquarters jobs.

The PED convention yesterday adopted a concilliatory resolution calling on Labor to bargain in good faith with the union. I had reported that the PED board favored a much tougher resolution, which if approved, would have embarrassed (and certainly angered) Labor Secretary Ray Marshall.