Fairness. It’s what all of us believe in, but few seldom stand up to defend it when the time comes. This week, a group of senators stepped up to do right by public servants who have been forced to endure painful pay and benefit cuts the past few years.
Although we didn't start this mess, federal employees have been forced to pay $182 billion in lost pay and retirement benefits just so more tax cuts can be given to the wealthy and big corporations. It’s time to right the wrong, and this group of senators, led by Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii, has introduced a bill to give these workers the 5.3% catch-up in 2017 they deserve.
“Federal workers in Hawaii and across the country have seen their earnings decrease as a result of furloughs, sequestration, and a freeze on pay,” Senator Schatz said. “These are the dedicated public servants who do everything from protecting our nation to maintaining our parks and taking care of our veterans. This legislation would help give these workers the raise they deserve and help the government recruit and retain a top-quality workforce.”
Schatz was joined by Sens. Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland and Sherrod Brown of Ohio as original cosponsors of the bill. Cardin said the country is strong in large part because the United States has the best government workforce in the world – but that workforce is in jeopardy.
“They are being asked to do more with less. They’ve gone through sequestration and shutdowns and freezes,” he said. “We need to support our federal workforce. That means a pay raise. That means giving them the resources they need to carry out critical missions.”
Schatz’s bill is the Senate companion to House legislation introduced in February. The House bill, HR 4585, currently has 36 cosponsors.
It’s about time that both the House and the Senate do the right thing and approve the wage adjustment.
“This adjustment will help employees catch up on their credit card bills, student loan debts, home repairs, and so many of the everyday costs facing today’s workers,” said AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. “Federal employees paid more than their fair share to help dig us out of the Great Recession. Now that we’re on the road to recovery, it’s time for Congress to help employees make up some of that lost ground by providing a 5.3% catch-up adjustment.”
Cox said the government relies on experienced employees to carry out vital programs and services on behalf of the American public. We can’t afford to let these employees walk out the door if they feel they are not being compensated fairly.