More than 24,000 Federal Aviation Administration aides, many in the Washington-Baltimore area, will get special pay raises of between 5 percent and 6.6 percent this month, in addition to the regular 4 percent increase due other white collar government employes.
The extra pay raise for air traffic controllers, supervisors and technicians is backdated to July 1981 and will mean special catch-up checks averaging nearly $1,500 for the workers.
The increase was part of the stopgap funding resolution Congress cleared last week to fund agencies whose budgets have not been approved for this fiscal year.
Congress made the FAA raises retroactive to the start of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers strike 14 months ago. PATCO called the strike after first approving, and then rejecting, a pay package very similar to the one approved last week by Congress.
President Reagan gave controllers several days to return to work and then ordered the FAA to fire those who remained off the job. FAA fired 11,400 of the controllers. Many of them have appealed their firing to the Merit Systems Protection Board.
The Reagan administration and Congress had been working on an FAA pay package since the strike began.
FAA wanted to give raises as soon as possible to employes in Grades 9 and above with "operational responsibilities" related to air traffic. Rep. William Ford (D-Mich.), who heads the Post Office-Civil Service Committee, wanted the increases contingent on FAA certification that the nation's air traffic system was operating at pre-strike levels.
FAA officials said Ford was trying, in effect, to force FAA to rehire large numbers of strikers. Many pro-labor legislators felt the FAA retroactive raise plan amounted to a payoff for "strike breakers" who stayed on the job.
Congress came down largely on the FAA's side.
The new FAA pay law also allows those employes with operational responsibilities to be paid more than $57,500, the ceiling imposed on most other feds.
FAA says that some controllers--whose pre-strike average salary was $34,000--actually earned more than the ceiling thanks to overtime. But supervisors could not exceed the ceiling no matter how much overtime they worked, FAA says. Neither controllers nor supervisors could collect for work performed on holidays or special shifts under premium pay rates if that would have put them over $57,500.
The new law allows both controllers and supervisors to collect for either overtime or premium pay work, even if it puts them above $57,500.
Most other white collar feds and other FAA workers will get only the 4 percent raise effective this month. Executives at or above the ceiling will not get any increase, and workers near the magic $57,500 mark will get only that portion of the 4 percent raise that puts them at the ceiling.