Congress: No Raise for Blue-Collar Federal Employees in 2014
Congress just can’t seem to do anything right these days. By taking no action to prevent it, Congress allowed a much-needed one percent pay adjustment for General Schedule (GS) federal workers to go into effect in 2014. However, Congress failed to take action to provide the same adjustment to Wage Grade (WG) federal employees. With the House of Representatives now home for the holidays, the end of the three-year pay freeze is a hollow victory for federal employees.
“We want to see the pay freeze finally lifted, but this is completely unfair to blue-collar federal workers,” said NFFE Legislative Director Randy Erwin. “We have been fighting to lift this pay freeze since it first went into effect three years ago, so movement is good, but we will not accept Wage Grade federal workers being left out in the cold. Ending the pay freeze needs to apply to all federal employees.”
Under current law, GS federal employees will receive a modest one percent pay bump in January 2014. The adjustment will be applied to base pay, leaving locality pay unchanged. While the one percent pay adjustment ends a three-year pay freeze, it is largely a symbolic victory. In the past 12 months the Consumer Price Index increased by 1.2 percent, effectively nullifying the increased buying power of federal workers. It is worth noting that despite an increasing Consumer Price Index, many members of Congress had pushed for a continued pay freeze.
For WG federal workers, the fight for a fair and equitable pay adjustment is just beginning. Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) introduced legislation (H.R. 3573) in November 2013 that would have provided a one percent pay adjustment for WG federal employees. That legislation enjoys bipartisan support, with 11 Democratic and nine Republican co-sponsors (at the time of this writing). The legislation was referred to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), but the bill failed to progress (as they say: “died in committee”). On Dec. 12, 2013 the U.S. House of Representatives went into recess without taking further action on the legislation, leaving WG federal workers no pay increase of any kind going into the New Year.
“Getting blue-collar federal workers the pay adjustment they deserve is the number one item of business for NFFE in 2014,” said Erwin. “This is about basic fairness. Congress cannot treat blue-collar federal workers like second-class citizens and get away with it. We are going to fight this until Congress does right by Wage Grade federal employees. We need every NFFE-IAM member to tell their member of Congress: Blue-collar federal workers deserve the same one percent pay adjustment that white-collar federal workers are getting.”