Our union has worked to have a bill introduced in the House that provides a 2.6% pay adjustment for all civilian federal employees, and we must now call on the Senate to pass its version of the bill, S. 262.
The 2.6% pay raise, passed by the House last week, is a way to demonstrate support for federal workers who suffered financially from the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.
Furloughed workers went back to work Jan. 28 after being locked out for 35 days. Even though the shutdown has ended, it left the furloughed employees and those forced to work without pay in financial chaos. They raided food banks, sold their belongings online, took out loans, and worked a second job. Some who have retirement savings turned to those savings to help make ends meet. According to Thrift Savings Plan officials, 12,204 hardship withdrawals worth more than $140 million were processed during the shutdown.
The AFGE-backed Federal Civilian Workforce Pay Raise Fairness Act of 2019 passed the House with bipartisan support and a vote that was 259-161. The bill authorizes a 2.6% pay raise effective when the bill is enacted into law. The bill was introduced by Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Virginia) with several original co-sponsors, including Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) and Rep. Don Beyer (D-Virginia). A companion bill, S. 262, was introduced in the Senate by Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland).
“Employees are still waiting for their backpay, and many will never fully recover from having to take out high-interest loans, borrow against their retirement accounts, or incur financial penalties for missed payments,” said AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. “I call on all members of Congress to support this bill and demonstrate their commitment to the 2.1 million dedicated federal workers who keep our government running every day by providing all workers with a 2.6 percent raise.”
Even before this shutdown, federal workers had endured years of financial uncertainty and strain due to pay and hiring freezes, pension cuts, unpaid furloughs, and other government shutdowns.
After accounting for inflation, federal employees earn nearly 5% less today than they did at the start of the decade, incurring over $200 billion in cuts to their pay and benefits since 2011.
“Months before the shutdown began, President Trump announced he was denying federal workers a pay raise in 2019, even while approving a 2.6 percent raise for members of the military – rejecting a long-held principle of providing equal pay raises to military and civilian workers,” Cox added.