WASHINGTON—The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), which represents 150,000 employees in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), is seeking back pay for VA employees who have been wrongfully denied overtime compensation. AFGE filed the national grievance on behalf of Veterans Service Representatives (VSRs) at Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) offices nationwide who were forced to work overtime, but denied compensation for it.
“The Agency is using existing employees to meet the burden of getting additional claims addressed,” said AFGE Assistant General Counsel Jacqueline Sims. “These employees are working to ensure our nation’s veterans get the benefits they deserve, yet they are not receiving anything in return for their hard work and dedication.”
AFGE contends that the VA had knowledge that the overtime was being worked by the VSRs and that the unpaid overtime work was being done for the benefit of the Agency. AFGE has also been informed that overtime pay for VSRs is covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and that federal employees who are covered by the FLSA are considered “nonexempt” and must be compensated for overtime work in accordance with the FLSA.
“This is just another example of poor management at the VA,” said AFGE National President John Gage. “We will not stand by while the Agency keeps money from employees who rightfully earned it. This national grievance sends a clear message that employee rights will not be overlooked in the workplace.”
AFGE is asking VA management to immediately discontinue violation of this law and move forward with all procedures related to back pay, interest, liquidated damages and attorney fees for VSRs denied compensation for overtime worked.
AFGE’s priorities for the VA are aimed at ensuring adequate resources for employees and quality health care services for veterans. The Union continues to work with Congress in several areas including budget, bargaining rights, job competitions, business process reengineering, safety standards, training, nurse and doctor pay, and Saturday premium pay.