Effective September 1, 2023, all NASA members received a 1.5% increase to their rate of pay—all members that is except 44 members, who had been flagged as being red-circled at some point in the past. Red-circled in our collective agreement means that an employee's salary is frozen at a specific level and the employee is no longer eligible for "increments."
NASA received no communication from the employer on this issue until after we made inquiries on behalf of a member who contacted us when they realized they had not received the increase. Days later, NASA received an email from the employer advising that red-circled employees did not receive the increase. This was based on the employer's interpretation of several articles of the collective agreement. NASA strongly disagrees with the employer's interpretation; in fact, we contend those articles support our contention that red-circled employees should receive the increase. Further to that, for the last 20+ years, all red-circled employees have received the negotiated increases without fail.
The employer's email to NASA also indicated that while red-circled employees had received the January 1, 2023 increase, that was done in error. Despite their view that it was done in error—resulting in those employees being overpaid—they decided not to seek repayment. NASA's view is there was no overpayment as, in our view, the increase was correctly applied.
NASA has filed a policy grievance on this issue. Given the employer's position, we have waived an internal hearing and are moving directly to arbitration. Further, we are requesting the arbitration hearing be expedited.
NASA is at a loss to understand why this employer would deny a 1.5% increase to 44 employees. In the big scheme of things, given the university's annual budget, an approximate annual amount of $52,000 to compensate all these employees is a mere drop in the bucket.