(WASHINGTON, D.C.)--The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) filed a lawsuit yesterday in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. against officials in the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA).
The lawsuit (AFGE Local 446 v. Principi et al.
) was filed against the DVA's Secretary and Under Secretary for Health after they misused their statutory powers to prevent enforcement of an arbitrator's award that directed payment of premium pay to registered nurses (RN's).
The suit was filed on behalf of RN's at the DVA Medical Center in Asheville, N.C., who were deprived evening and weekend premium pay for overtime work performed on nights and weekends. AFGE Local 446 won an arbitration award for the RN's to receive back pay and future pay in accordance with law and the contract.
While the medical center could have sought review of the legal correctness of the arbitrator's award by filing 'exceptions' to the award with the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), the center failed to do so in a timely manner.
The lawsuit maintains that the DVA's effort to void any enforcement effort of an arbitration award that is already 'final and binding' constitutes a deprivation of property without substantive due process of law in violation of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
AFGE is optimistic that the U.S. District Court will be able to issue a decision on the merits of this lawsuit by the end of 2002.
AFGE, which represents 125,000 DVA employees, is the largest union for government employees, representing 600,000 federal and D.C. workers. For more on AFGE, log onto www.afge.org.