WASHINGTON—The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), which represents 150,000 employees in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), won a second arbitration decision granting Saturday Premium Pay to eligible VA employees. Arbitrator Donald Wasserman ruled that AFGE must be involved on a pre-decisional basis throughout the eligibility process, on all determinations including those on inclusions/exclusions. Wasserman also stated that AFGE and the VA are encouraged to discuss whether it would be beneficial to invite outside assistance in their deliberations, either governmental or private.
“VA employees are very dedicated to the mission of the Agency, and they deserve to be compensated for their hard work. Arbitrator Wasserman’s decisions in this case uphold the commitment to treating employees with dignity and respect,” said AFGE Assistant General Counsel Jacqueline Sims, who represented AFGE in both cases.
Wasserman also found that the “VA’s failure to adhere to this long held, well-established principle was arbitrary and did discriminate against a now unknown number of employees.” Wasserman restated the VA’s commitment to make retroactive back pay payments to Jan. 1, 2004 for the previous ten positions determined to be eligible for Saturday Premium Pay by VA and also mandated that this back pay commitment must be taken for the positions determined to be eligible as a result of the forthcoming review by the VA and AFGE.
“AFGE is committed to ensuring long-term fairness and equality to all VA employees,” said AFGE National President John Gage. “Whether it is fighting for back pay for unpaid overtime, or continuing to press for Saturday Premium Pay, we are going to make sure these hardworking and dedicated employees are given what they deserve.”
Going forward, AFGE’s National Veterans Affairs Council #53, led by President Alma L. Lee, is requesting a meeting with the Agency to discuss the decision and award as determined by Arbitrator Wasserman.