Workforce

Connolly, Schatz push to give feds a pay raise

Gerry Connolly_2015 Eagle 

Rep. Gerry Connolly is once again offering a bill to give feds a pay raise.

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) are pushing to give federal employees a pay raise.

For the fifth consecutive year, Connolly has introduced the Federal Adjustment of Income Rates Act. The 2018 version is seeking a 3 percent pay increase to federal employees for 2019 -- a two percent across-the-board bump in basic pay and an additional 1 percent for locality pay.

Since 2010 when President Barack Obama instituted a three-year pay freeze, federal pay has lagged.

The federal workforce "endured three years of pay freezes, a government shutdown, sequestration cuts, furloughs and a mindless across-the-board hiring freeze," Connolly said. "And to make matters even worse, the president has treated federal employees like his own rhetorical punching bag... They deserve better."

The House bill has 21 cosponsors -- 20 Democrats and one Republican. The Senate version has seven cosponsors -- all Democrats.

The bill is also supported by 17 different employee unions.

"Economic forecasters estimate that wages in the private sector will rise an average of 3 percent in 2018, so it is perfectly reasonable for federal employees to expect the same modest increase in their paychecks," said Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents 150,000 federal employees across 31 agencies.

J. David Cox, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal union, added, "The women and men who guard our borders, serve our veterans, inspect our food and protect our planet are worth this modest investment."

In August, the White House announced a 1.9 percent pay increase for civilian employees and a 2.1 percent raise for military members in 2018. In response, members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have pushed the White House to align civilian and military pay and bump it to 2.4 percent.

However, the Trump administration has also taken aim at the federal workforce. One of President Trump's first actions upon taking office was to institute an immediate hiring freeze, and the White House's 2018 budget proposal outlined provisions that would increase retirement contributions for federal workers and cut or eliminate several cost of living adjustment formulas for benefit programs.

Additionally, a White House budget document publicized by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) details the administration's consideration of installing a pay freeze on civilian employees in 2019.

Past iterations of the FAIR Act haven't advanced in Congress.

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a staff writer covering civilian agencies, workforce issues, health IT, open data and innovation.

Prior to joining FCW, Gunter reported for the C-Ville Weekly in Charlottesville, Va., and served as a college sports beat writer for the South Boston (Va.) News and Record. He started at FCW as an editorial fellow before joining the team full-time as a reporter.

Gunter is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where his emphases were English, history and media studies.

Click here for previous articles by Gunter, or connect with him on Twitter: @WChaseGunter

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