Pay banding was considered at NAWCTSD in 1996. The Current Local 2113 President, Lorraine Tuliano, and other Union officials attended training which was provided at that time by Management. Ms. Tuliano recalls that after reviewing all the information which was presented at that training, as well as data describing results of pay banding which had been ongoing at China Lake since 1983, "Based upon all that information and a vote at a meeting advertised, in advance, on our bulletin boards, we decided not to agree to a demo project here. Subsequent to that meeting, we held a brown bag luncheon, again with Management involvement, and presented our findings and conclusions again. Not one person contacted me, as the briefer, to declare they still thought it [pay banding] was a good idea. I would estimate approximately one hundred attendees at that meeting filling rooms 3044, 3045, and 3046."
A key issue which indicated that pay banding was not in the best interests of bargaining-unit employees was the fact that all pay raises would depend on the inherently subjective nature of employee performance evaluations as determined by supervisors. Historical data have suggested inequities and anomalies in past distributions of awards (which designation is similarly subjective). This is not to say that we do not have many top performers in the bargaining unit. It merely recognizes that in these years of budgetary cutbacks, there is usually not enough money available to give every deserving employee equitable pay adjustments. We further recognize the subjective distribution of awards in the past, and have no reason at present to believe that pay adjustments under pay banding would not be similarly subjective. It was stated, in the training which was received in 1996, that under pay banding at China Lake, management employees tended to advance in pay faster than non-management employees. Historical awards data from NAWCTSD also show that Management employees have received larger awards than non-management employees. For example, between November 1999 and May 2000, awards to GS-15 employees averaged over $2000 per award. In contrast, for the same period, awards for GS-12's and 13's averaged only $554. Would you like all your raises (even COLAs) to be awarded subjectively like awards, QSI's, and promotions are now?
Had it not been for the presence of a labor union, Management could have imposed pay banding on us long ago with no obligation whatsoever to negotiate the issue. Without Union representation, it is highly unlikely that non-management employees would have been allowed to participate in the pay-banding decision. They would not have been invited to the training. Without the training, they could not have contributed intelligently to the process. There would have been no employee representation.
Pay Banding has been in use at China Lake and Point Mugu since 1983, and in recent RIF activity has run into problems which further confirm that Local 2113 made the right decision by rejecting paybanding. Click here to read more about experiences with paybanding at China Lake and Point Mugu.
Under the 5-point evaluation system, performance awards were based on ones evaluation score. Under that system, debate over scores was not uncommon. Many employees perceived a quota system which could limit how often one could get a "5" rating. Supervisors differed in their rating patterns. Some were more reluctant to give "5" ratings than others. In contrast, no grievances have been filed under the current pass/fail system. If one may extrapolate this pattern the other way, it seems almost certain that if one's pay and pay raises depended on evaluations, there would be much more controversey over them than we had under the 5-point GS-series system.
Paybanding was also rejected by NAWCTSD and NAVAIR Management. The NAWCTSD Comptroller said that the only way we could afford pay banding would be to lay off employees. Management was free to implement pay banding for non-bargaining-unit employees and chose not to.