Congress Unleashes on Feds: Pay Increase Denied; Weakens Due Process, Protections Against Political Corruption
Friday, July 20, 2018
It was quite a week for federal employees on Capitol Hill. In summary, the House voted to not increase pay for FY 2019, and a government oversight committee approved bills that weaken protections against political corruption in the executive branch and at the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). Meanwhile, a senate committee approved two unqualified nominees for chair and vice-chair of the MSPB.
House Votes No to Pay Increase
Without any good reason and along party lines, the House took a pass on increasing pay for federal employees despite economic reports claiming the American economy has grown, and cost of living expenses are increasing. President Trump requested an equally unwarranted pay freeze for FY19, which many believe is the impetus for the party line vote against an increase, which would add to the now 31% pay gap between public and private sector pay. Luckily, a senate panel approved a 1.9% FY19 increase.
House Committee Passes Senseless, Destructive MERIT Act
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (OGR) approved H.R. 559, the MERIT Act, which if passed by the full House will prohibit using arbitrators for grievances, eliminates PIPs, lowers evidentiary standards for conduct cases at the MSPB to “substantial” evidence, reduces earned retirement benefits if fired for a felony (note: does not extend to Congress), extends probation to two years, claws back bonuses or awards retroactively for conduct or performance, prohibits MSPB from hearing furlough appeals, gives fired workers 10 days to appeal to MSPB, and more. TAKE ACTION HERE
Same House Committee Approves Bill to (further) Limit Due Process at MSPB
OGR also approved H.R. 6391, the MSPB Reauthorization Act. However, instead of passing a bill to support the agency and its mission of due process that protects against political corruption and other Prohibited Personnel Practices, OGR took the opportunity to create new filing fees for feds who appeal actions, provides summary judgement authority to deny hearings, prevents VA employees from using the MSPB, and allows reappointments to the MSPB board. TAKE ACTION HERE
Senate Panel Approves Two Bad Apples to the MSPB
After a fierce protest from NFFE and its coalition partners, a senate panel approved two unqualified nominees for the MSPB, placing decades of case law and policy in jeopardy to political ideology. Unions stated that chair nominee Dennis Kirk lacks qualified experience, and his small firm has questionable ties to Russia. The vice chair nominee Andrew Maunz lacks legal experience to the point where he would likely fair to qualify for administrative judge, much less a MSPB board member. TAKE ACTION HERE
MSPB union coalition letter here