Congressman Barney Frank this morning announced that he has secured a $240,000 appropriation that was requested by the Department of Defense and the Department of State to remedy underpayment to employees of Lajes Field Air Force base in the Azores.
The earmark will provide a direct benefit to Portuguese employees at the Lajes Field Air Force base, who will receive back wages for time worked at the lower rate.
"This contentious issue was brought to my attention when I visited the Azores a few years ago," said Congressman Barney Frank. "The regional government of the Azores, the Defense Department, and the State Department all requested this legislative solution to this point of contention in an otherwise very amicable relationship. I am pleased that we were able to resolve this issue."
The wage issue has been a point of contention between the U.S. and Portugal for several years. The disparity between what the employees were paid and what they believed that they were owed arose from the use of a Department of Defense wage survey in order to determine prevailing rates. The legislation would base wages on a different set of data, the DoD Azores Foreign National survey.
In order to make the change possible, Frank previously worked to insert language in the Defense Authorization bill which passed earlier this year. The language would allow the DoD to revise the 1995 Cooperation and Defense Agreement with Portugal, making it possible to change the data upon which wage rates are based.
The funds were contained in the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, which provides funding for the Defense Department for fiscal year 2010. The bill passed the House by a vote of 395-34.