Not All Pay Raises Are Equal
It is fair to say those who choose to become part of the federal workforce do not do so to make a fortune.
There are many reasons why people become feds: a desire to be a part of something bigger than themselves; a way to serve their country outside of (or after) military service; or, perhaps a steady paycheck along with quality benefits. But federal employees know their paycheck is often not what it could be in the private sector. Knowing this, it makes their resolve and dedication even more astounding. In the face of small pay raises following a three-year pay freeze, federal employees continue to forge ahead on behalf of the American people. While the 1.9 percent pay raise to all civilian feds in 2018 was welcome, there are significant concerns for what lies ahead in 2019 and beyond.
The 1.9 percent pay raise included in the president’s FY2018 budget request was a bright spot in an otherwise hostile proposal toward feds. The budget proposal took direct aim at feds’ retirement packages, including major increases to pension contributions, elimination of the Cost-of-Living Adjustment for FERS employees, and even a cut to retired feds’ COLAs.
In November of 2017, Congress agreed to a 2.4 percent pay raise for uniformed personnel after finalizing the National Defense Authorization Act. FMA unequivocally supported that action on behalf of uniformed military, and subsequently urged Congress and the Trump administration to boost the pay raise for federal employees to maintain traditional pay parity, as it did for 2017. Civilian federal employees and uniformed military personnel have the same Constitutionally-mandated missions and often work side-by-side in combat zones to protect our country. Despite pleas from many lawmakers in both the House and the Senate, these efforts were unsuccessful. While we were disappointed pay parity was not achieved for 2018, FMA has larger concerns moving forward.
FMA is an ardent supporter of Rep. Gerry Connolly’s (D-VA) FAIR Act (H.R. 4775), which would provide a 3.0 percent pay raise in 2019. However, several released documents indicate the administration will call for a pay freeze for all federal employees next year. It is interesting that as the economy is on the upswing and the administration touts higher consumer confidence and low unemployment, the same administration plans to unfairly punish all federal employees with a short-sighted, undeserved pay freeze. Federal employees need the administration to support them instead of calling a pay freeze “the most important” recommendation among a reported $300 billion worth of proposed cuts to the workforce.
FMA applauds the members of Congress from both parties who have already voiced opposition to a potential pay freeze. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) called it “pennywise and pound foolish.” Rep. Connolly called a pay freeze “dunderheaded.” Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA) argued “the federal budget cannot be balanced on the backs of our federal workforce.” FMA could not agree more. Especially at a time when, nearly four months into the fiscal year, agencies continue to be funded by an irresponsible and costly continuing resolution, and feds are once again preparing for a potential government shutdown.
Federal managers need a Congress and administration that provides our agencies the tools and resources to flourish, and reasonable compensation for their often-underappreciated service. You can be sure FMA will vehemently fight against an across-the-board pay freeze in 2019.
Written by the Federal Managers Association (FMA). To learn more, visit their website: FedManagers.org
Posted in Hear it from FMA