Hanford contractors who will be getting some relief from a federal wage freeze announced plans Monday for allocating the additional money.
Each contractor will decide whether nonunion employees will see across-the-board increases or pay raises doled out in different amounts to individual workers.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced in December that he was freezing the salaries and bonus pool increases for 75,000 federal contractor employees, including those at Hanford and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
The freeze was intended to be consistent with a two-year pay freeze for federal employees, including those at the Department of Energy's Hanford Office of River Protection and Richland Operations office.
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However, DOE employees continue to get "step" increases, which are described as percentage increases on a predetermined schedule tied to increased experience for employees with good performance.
In early April, DOE said that Chu, in the interest of fairness, would allow the same standard to be applied to DOE contractor employees. Money equal to 1.5 percent of the total payroll for each facility would be available for the pay increases.
Hanford DOE officials worked with its contractors to approve plans for the 1.5 percent increase, with contractors sending out messages to employees Monday. The plans don't affect union employees, who have negotiated wage pacts.
At Washington Closure Hanford, nonunion employees will receive a uniform 1.5 percent salary adjustment retroactive to the start of January.
However, the company's annual employee performance incentive fee for this fiscal year remains in doubt. Based on the company's performance in cleaning up Hanford along the Columbia River, Washington Closure employees usually receive an annual bonus.
However, DOE did not approve the incentive this year, said Neil Brosee, Washington Closure president in a message to employees.
"Members of my senior management team and I are still working the issue to find a possible alternative," he wrote. "This is high on my priority list."
At Washington River Protection Solutions, the Hanford tank farm contractor, the 1.5 percent will be used "to make targeted salary adjustments, such as bringing some staff salaries in line with what is common in the marketplace for particular fields," said Chuck Spencer, president of Washington River Protection Solutions, in a message to employees.
Managers will notify affected employees during the next several weeks, and they will receive larger paychecks in mid-July.
DOE prohibited the increases from being spent for merit increases -- selective rewards for employees doing a good job. But they can be spent to reward increased job responsibilities or to boost wages to reflect industry standards or demand.
Mission Support Alliance, the sitewide support services contractor, does not plan to spread increases among all nonunion employees. Employees were told by Todd Beyers, vice president of human resources, that the increase would bring the budget designated for promotions and adjustments to an amount comparable to last year.
CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation sent out a similar memo saying the promotions and adjustments budget would be similar to last year's. The contractor is still analyzing the 1.5 percent increase and has not made a final determination, said spokesman Andre Armstrong. CH2M Hill is in charge of central Hanford and ground water cleanup.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory plans to use its additional 1.5 percent to make targeted salary adjustments retroactive to Jan. 1, according to spokesman Greg Koller. That could include bringing some staff salaries in line with the marketplace or supplementing salaries for positions that are in high demand and short supply.
Human resources is working with managers to identify eligible staff, he said. Those employees will be notified in the next few weeks and will see the increase in June paychecks.
With the continuing budget resolution Congress passed this spring for the rest of the fiscal year through Sept. 30, Congress directed that Hanford and other sites would not be allowed to spend money saved from the part of the wage freeze still in effect.
When the pay freeze was announced, DOE asked PNNL and other national labs to provide a plan explaining how they could reinvest the savings generated by the pay freeze. But when the 1.5 percent increase was allowed -- which was in addition to 0.5 percent already allowed under the pay freeze in the wages special adjustment fund -- the requirement to provide a plan for the savings was dropped.
The savings to DOE is less and Congress reclaimed some of the savings through reduced fiscal 2011 budgets, Koller said.
-- Annette Cary: 509-582-1533; email@example.com; More Hanford news at hanfordnews.com.