GPO May Seek New Ruling on Overtime

Posted March 26, 2003 at 6:13pm

The Government Printing Office may request that the Federal Labor Relations Authority revisit a 2001 ruling governing payment of overtime wages.

The case goes back to 1999, when members of the Sheet Metal Workers International Association Local 100 filed a grievance because GPO paid day-shift employees working weekend overtime less than night-shift workers performing similar duties during the same overtime shifts. Although night-shift employees typically earn the same base pay as day-shift workers, they receive an additional fee known as “night differential.” Therefore, during the overtime weekend shifts, night-shift employees would earn a higher wage than day-time employees on the same shift.

Union officials argued that because the Public Printer is permitted by Title 44 of the U.S. Code to set wages, salaries and compensation, the printing office could also set overtime rates.

An arbitrator agreed with the union, and in 2001 the Federal Labor Relations Authority, on an appeal from GPO, upheld that decision.

But in a decision issued March 17, the General Accounting Office stated that GPO is not required to pay overtime wages exceeding 150 percent of an employee’s base pay. GAO found that the printing office is limited by Title 5 of the U.S. Code, Section 5544, which governs overtime pay.

GPO spokesman Andrew Sherman said the agency may ask FLRA to reconsider its decision in the coming weeks. The Comptroller General is not legally allowed to overrule an FLRA decision.

However, any decision may be moot because the union signed a new agreement with GPO in 2002 in which overtime pay rates were set at 150 percent of an employee’s base pay.

An official for the Sheet Metal Workers International Association Local 100 could not be reached for comment.