The opinion of the court was delivered by: GREEN
This action involves the consolidation of two cases concerning identical issues which were filed by two institutional plaintiffs, the American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO (AFGE) and the Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO (MTD) on behalf of their members and members of the class of employees similarly affected. After AFGE was certified as representative of the class by order of this Court dated March 27, 1979, the two actions were consolidated.
During July and August 1978, wage surveys in accordance with 5 U.S.C. § 5343 were conducted in the wage areas of Dothan, Alabama; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Little Rock, Arkansas; Madison, Wisconsin; and Columbus and Albany, Georgia.
As a result of these surveys and by operation of 5 U.S.C. § 5344(a), pay increases in excess of 5.5% Were to take effect on October 1, 1978 in the Dothan, Alabama wage area, and on October 8, 1978, in each of the other five wage areas.
On October 10, 1978, the President signed into law Pub.L. No. 95-429 (hereinafter pay cap legislation), which is set forth in the pertinent part in the margin.
On October 20, 1978, the Civil Service Commission issued CSC Bulletin 532-30. It provided that the 5.5% Cap on Federal wage increases mandated by the pay cap legislation applied retroactively to wage increases with effective dates between October 1, 1978 and October 10, 1978. As a result of CSC Bulletin 532-30, the employees herein have not received the full amount of the survey determined wage increases. Instead, they have received increases of 5.5%.
The named plaintiffs and the members of the class they represent seek declaratory and mandamus relief challenging CSC Bulletin 532-30 in an effort to receive the full percentage increases determined pursuant to the aforementioned wage surveys.
Defendants assert that the statutory language "as is consistent with the public interest" in 5 U.S.C. § 5341 Et seq. (hereinafter the Act) provides broad agency discretion in implementing wage adjustments. Defendants argue that this broad discretion and the express statutory mandate of the pay cap legislation authorized agency heads to impose a 5.5% Limit on pay increases with effective dates on or after October 1, 1978.
Defendants cite no authority in support of their contention that the government may decrease retroactively wage rates for services already performed. Indeed, defendants admit ignorance of any previous situation in which federal employees, by retroactive application of an Act of Congress or Presidential determination, have been denied, or suffered a diminution of, immediately receivable employment benefits such as pay, leave, insurance or health benefits.
Plaintiffs have cited decisions of the Comptroller General, which hold that a federal employee who obtains an employee benefit under statutes existing at the time of the employment, obtains a vested right to that benefit which may not be disturbed retroactively. United States Civil Service Commission, B-150041, 42 ...