CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea — Nine U.S. Army Corps of Engineers workers submitted a written request Monday asking that each employee get an average of 800 hours in back pay as compensation for complying with a military curfew in South Korea, according to the union president representing the group.

The workers want payment for “standby duty” — a term defined in their union’s current contract with U.S. Forces Korea and the 8th Army — in return for staying home during the nightly curfew policy imposed for civilian workers since September.

USFK officials have said the curfew is needed to ensure readiness and safety among all military, civilian and private contract workers here. Under authority of the USFK commander, the curfew applies to all military personnel, and to civilians who fall under the status of forces agreement between the United States and South Korea, they’ve said.

A USFK spokesman said Monday afternoon his office was trying to locate the request but had yet to hear whether it had been received.

A section of the contract between USFK and Local 1363 of the National Federation of Federal Employees calls for the government to pay its workers standby pay for any time spent restricted to living quarters and in a “state of readiness to perform work.”

The letter has requested a response from USFK officials within 15 calendar days, or by March 14.

Union president Jeffrey Meadows said he means for the one-page letter sent to Col. Janice Dombi, the workers’ direct commander at the Corps’ Far East District office in Seoul, to serve as a first step toward filing a formal grievance.

Meadows said he and other union members first thought of the idea as a way to push USFK leaders into easing or eliminating the curfew.

“Well, that was our goal a month ago,” he said Monday in a telephone interview. “But now our focus is the money.”

He asked each of the nine workers to calculate the number of hours they stayed at home during the curfew in the past five months, excluding vacation or temporary duty assignments. When the curfew was first imposed in mid-September, it ranged from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. nightly. Since early October, the hours have been midnight to 5 a.m.

Meadows said he didn’t calculate the actual dollar amount for each worker, in part because he believes some of the standby pay should be at an 80 percent rate and some at straight time. Two weeks ago, Meadows estimated that could be from $15,000 to $20,000 per worker. The nine workers who filed letters Monday are being considered as test cases, Meadows said, with more requests to come.

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