Federal agencies that get their money from customers rather than Congress could be forced to bargain with unions over wages under a potentially far-reaching decision of the Federal Labor Relations Authority.

The ruling could eventually affect thousands of workers in government-owned corporations as well as Defense Department and Veterans Administration employes who are in nonappropriated fund activities -- such as PXs, commissaries and canteens -- whose salaries come from money earned in sales and services.

The Labor Relations Authority ruled last week that the National Treasury Employees Union has the right to bargain with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. over employe wages. FDIC has about 7,000 workers, including 1,100 here. It gets its operating funds from fees charged banks and savings institutions it oversees. NTEU represents some FDIC employes.

FDIC and similar federal corporations follow civil service pay scales for rank-and-file employes. But otherwise, many of them are more like corporations than federal agencies. Their corporate trappings can include fancier job titles, cafeterias that are more like restaurants than the Alcatraz-like settings of many federal cafeterias and recreational facilities and office settings that are decidedly better than most regular federal agencies.

Most government departments and agencies, which employ the bulk of the civil service work force, depend totally on the White House or Capitol Hill to set pay. President Reagan is expected in the next few days to recommend a 2 percent federal pay raise. Congress is likely to increase that amount to 3 percent.

Two of the government's largest operations, the U.S. Postal Service and the Tennessee Valley Authority, now have full collective bargaining with employe unions. The Postal Service recently signed a 40-month contract with its two major employe unions that pledges 13 raises during a three-year period to nearly 800,000 workers. TVA routinely bargains with a number of unions over pay and fringe benefits for most of its employes.

NTEU President Robert Tobias said the bargaining order "should create a domino effect . . . knocking down the barriers to pay bargaining in agencies similar to the FDIC." Other agencies that could be affected include portions of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Federal Reserve Board as well as portions of the Defense Department and Veterans Administrations with nonappropriated fund activities.

The FDIC has until mid-October to appeal the decision. A spokesman for the agency said the case is being reviewed. In any event the decision is not likely to affect the amount of the upcoming January pay raise for those employes or workers in similar agencies.Interagency Day Care

I gave you the wrong location yesterday for the new child care facility that opens next month for General Services Administration, Interior and Office of Personnel Management staff members. The center will be in the GSA building. The weekly fees range from $87.50 to $115. To register call Michelle Sprecher at 343-4858.