Obama proposes to extend federal pay freeze until April 2013

Federal employees could finally see an end to the two-year pay freeze, and with a modest raise to boot. The bad news is they will have to wait until at least April 2013 after the projected six-month continuing resolution expires.

In an Aug. 21 letter to House Speaker John Boehner and Vice President Joe Biden -- in his role as president of the Senate -- President Barack Obama presented his plan for pay increases for the civilian government workforce in the event Congress passes a budget.

Citing Title 5, United States Code – which highlights the role of federal organization and workers -- the president said he had the power to adopt alternative pay plans for pay raises for civilian government workers covered by the General Schedule and certain other pay systems.

The president’s plan sets alternative 2013 across-the-board and locality pay adjustments expected to take effect after Congress passes a budget, something it has failed to do since April 2009. Pay increases would see a 0.5 percent bump, while the current locality pay percentages will stay at their 2012 levels, Obama said.

Federal union leaders unanimously condemned the president’s decision to delay the termination of the pay freeze.

"Federal employees cannot afford another four months or even another day of frozen wages,” J. David Cox Sr., the newly elected national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said in a statement.

Colleen Kelley, national president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said federal employees have already made contributions to reduce the deficit, and it’s time for others to carry the burden.

The pay freeze saves an estimated $60 billion, and another $15 billion from higher pension contributions from new federal hires, she said.

“That is a $75 billion contribution toward deficit reduction from federal employees,” Kelley said. “It is well past time that others, including the wealthiest Americans, are asked to share in the sacrifice.”

About the Author

Camille Tuutti is a former FCW staff writer who covered federal oversight and the workforce.

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