Is a merit pay increase always discretionary?

When Mechanic Grade B Tom Pffeifer was rejected for a merit increase, he carried his gripe to Plant Steward Andrew Brookshire. "There was nothing wrong with my performance on the job," Pffeifer groused. "I'm entitled to the increase.
By Raymond Dreyfack July 1, 1999

When Mechanic Grade B Tom Pffeifer was rejected for a merit increase, he carried his gripe to Plant Steward Andrew Brookshire.

“There was nothing wrong with my performance on the job,” Pffeifer groused. “I’m entitled to the increase.”

Brookshire conveyed his message to the worker’s boss, Maintenance Supervisor Al Blayman. Blayman got out the record and showed it to the union man.

“Pffeifer was absent 48 days during the 1-yr period on which the merit increase evaluation was based. No way is he entitled to that raise.”

Brookshire explained that the worker had undergone a major operation in the past year and was now fully recovered. On top of that, his performance was above average during the time he was on hand with no negative marks on his record.

“In my book, a work record can’t be acceptable with all that absence.” Blayman replied.

Brookshire disagreed and pointed out it was company policy to routinely grant merit increases based on satisfactory performance alone and that excused absence did not detract from Pffeifer’s record.

Blayman promised to “check it out with the boss” and get back to him.

Question: Is Pffeifer entitled to receive the increase?

Koch’s decision: “Give him the increase,” Plant Engineer Arthur Koch ordered. “A substantial period of time exists in which to accurately evaluate Pffeifer’s performance. On top of that, no mention is made in the labor agreement with regard to absence as it applies to performance.”