VA temporarily halts employee pay downgrades

ThedecisioncamealmostonemonthafterVAemployeesnationwideprotestedautomaticdowngradestolowerpayingjobstatus.Therallyoutsidethedepartment’sWashingtonheadquartersinJune,organizedbytheAmericanFederationofGovernmentEmployees,wasattendedbyabout500VAemployees,mostofwhomworkasmedicalsupportstaffinVAhospitalsandareonthebottomrungsofthegeneralpayschedule.
InaninterviewwithGovernmentExecutivelastmonth,VAAssistantSecretaryandChiefHumanCapitalOfficerJohnSepulvedaexplainedthatthedepartment’senormoushumanresourcessystemcanmeaninconsistenciesinjobdescriptions.VAcurrentlyisworkingwiththeOfficeofPersonnelManagementtorevisejobclassifications.Noteverydowngradingdecisionwasmadeduetojobclassificationrevisions,however.ManyemployeeshavereceiveddowngradenotificationsresultingfromappealdecisionsrenderedbyOPM;asignificantdelaybeforethesedecisionstakeeffecthascausedsomeconfusion.
ArecentmemofromVAHumanResourcesmanagementsupportedSepulveda’scomments,notingdowngradesoftenresultedfromjobclassificationsthathavelongbeenincorrect.Italsocitedthedepartment’s“failuretoact”toOPMappealsinatimelymatter.
VAhasestablishedaworkinggrouptoexaminetheissueandcreateoptionsonbalancingproperjobclassificationstandardswithpayparity.ThegroupwillidentifytheimpactoftheOPMappealdecisionsitdidnotexaminepreviouslyandthatofimproperclassifications.
“Thegroupwillthenreviewthesepositionstodeterminewhichchangestolowergradeactionswillproceed,”thememostates.
AFGEapplaudedthetemporaryhaltingofdowngrades.Theunion’snationalVACouncilPresidentAlmaLeesaidAFGEhasbeenfightingthedowngradesforyears.“Managementgavenothoughttotheimpactthesedowngradeswouldhaveonveterans’accesstocareor[VASecretaryEricShinseki’s]ownpledgetobringmoreveteransintotheVAworkforce,”Leesaid.“Movingforward,wemustensureallstakeholdersareatthetablesothatpositionreclassificationsarecarriedoutfairly,equitablyandwiththeutmostrespecttoourdedicatedveterans’healthcarestaffandtheveteranstheyserve.”


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