AFGE National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd this week asked lawmakers to pass a Senate bill that would overhaul the outdated Administrative Uncontrollable Overtime (AUO) pay and provide funding for 5,000 Border Patrol agents.
Testifying before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, Judd said the council supports the Border Patrol Pay Reform Act as it would provide more manpower, secure the hours necessary to protect the border, and stabilize agent pay amid today’s uncertain budgetary environment.
In place of AUO, which is compensation for irregular, unscheduled overtime – the bill proposes two levels of pay: Level 1 and Level 2. Level 1 agents work eight hours of regular time per day plus two additional hours of scheduled overtime.
Level 2 agents work eight hours a day plus one additional hour of scheduled overtime. Level 1 overtime rate is 1.25 times the hourly rate of basic pay while Level 2 overtime rate is 1.125 times the hourly rate of basic pay. Agents could receive additional overtime pay or compensatory time off when required to respond to emergencies or other mission requirements.
The bill would save the U.S. Customs and Border Protection about $80 million a year as Border Patrol agents on average will see a $6,200 pay reduction per year over what they have traditionally earned under AUO.
“My agents are asking you to do this because ensuring proper manpower, stability, and safety are worth the trade,” Judd testified. CBP officials who testified also voiced their support for the bill.
Judd, however, cautioned that the pay cut may affect hiring and retention of agents in remote areas. Also, if overtime is completely taken away from academy instructors, CBP would have a difficult time hiring and keeping academy instructors as most of them are former field agents with years of experience who may be reluctant to change jobs and take a pay cut.