Will feds get a pay raise?

President Barack Obama took steps last month to end the two-year federal pay freeze, but neither the size nor the timing of the proposed bump has pleased federal employee unions.

“Clearly, federal employees have sacrificed enough,” Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said Aug. 22. The other labor unions haven’t strayed far from that same message.

“The well is dry, Mr. President,” J. David Cox, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said the same day. “Federal employees cannot afford...another day of frozen wages.”

In August, Obama sent congressional leaders a proposal for lifting the freeze on civilian employees’ salaries and increasing pay by 0.5 percent, but the increase would happen in April, after Congress’ anticipated continuing resolution would expire. He recommended that the six-month CR maintain current pay levels. Congressional leaders agreed to the CR in principle before the August recess but have not yet passed it.

Obama also wrote that locality pay percentages for 2013 would stay at 2012 levels. He has the power to adopt alternative plans for pay raises for civilian government workers covered by the General Schedule and certain other pay systems.

Meanwhile, federal employees are steaming as they wait still longer for pay raises, especially after two years without an increase. Federal workers are viewed by many leaders as the piggy bank of the government, Kelley said.

The two-year freeze is saving the government an estimated $60 billion, plus another $15 billion in higher pension contributions from new federal hires. “That is a $75 billion contribution toward deficit reduction from federal employees,” Kelley said. She added that it’s time for others to pay their share, particularly the wealthiest Americans.

Nevertheless, some FCW readers who are government employees are trying to take a positive view of the situation.

“Although it has been difficult to accept the pay freeze, most government workers understand why it was necessary,” one reader wrote. “A temporary freeze is better than a job loss. Many American families are still struggling to find decent employment.”

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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Reader comments

Thu, Nov 15, 2012 California

Obama doesn't mind giving raises to Wisconsin union workers because they are so important to us. On the other hand, federal workers, except for UNION federal workers , should "Share in the sacrifice". Share with who??

Fri, Sep 28, 2012

"Just not my problem.", you sir are the problem. Nothing like setting someone up for failure to make your day complete.

Tue, Sep 18, 2012

The fed is printing money as fast as it can to dig us out of this whole the country has spent itself into. The biggest pay cut we are all taking is in the devaluing of the dollars we are paid in. At this rate, I am more than willing to sacrifice a few pennies on a token pay increase if it will stop them from printing more money a few days quicker, otherwise, the little we get won't keep up with the inflation that's comming anyway.

Mon, Sep 17, 2012

The FSA max reduction from $5000 down to $2500 is part of Obamacare. The current Congress is to blame for a whole lot of stuff, but this particular knife in our backs was brought to us courtesy of Reid, Pelosi and Obama.

Fri, Sep 14, 2012 GSA Tech

I posted earlier but then something just came across my email. Congress passed a measure to reduce the annual amount that Federal employees can contribute to their FSA (cafeteria plan) from $5000 to $2500. So. now it appears that the hit against Federal employees is three-fold: No raises, Higher out-of-pocket insurance cost and; Reduced ability to off-set the out-of-pocket cost with FSA. Plus, if you're GSA, the Acting Administrator has promised Congress sweeping organizational changes and to take funds reserved for employee bonuses and use them toward the agency's "mission". His reason: "The quality of our work should be base on our pride in our mission..." I wonder how much "pride" he is paid for the hatchet-job he is doing to GSA.

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