Will Blue Collar Workers Get Equal Pay for Equal Work?

Categories: Workers' Rights

If you and your co-workers work in the same building or on the same military base, your pay should be based on the same locality rate, right? Turns out, that’s not always the case for many hourly workers at several locations. Their pay is based on decades-old locality boundaries while salaried employees’ pay rates are based on more current Census data on commuting patterns.

AFGE has been trying to fix this problem for years, and we are growing support for a solution in Congress. We fully support HR 3492, the Locality Pay Equity Act, introduced by Rep. Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania, which would address this longstanding inequality.

“The Locality Pay Equity Act of 2015 will finally end the practice of treating federal employees in the same work place as if they work in different geographic locations,” AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. said. “It’s just common sense.”

Cox said maintaining different local labor market boundaries for hourly and salaried workers violates basic standards of fairness. Hourly and salaried workers travel the same highways, ride the same trains, and work in the same buildings. 

While the bill is pending, AFGE has been pressing the administration to fix this wage disparity. 

Thanks to our persistence, the Federal Prevailing Rate Advisory Council, which AFGE is a member, voted to unify wages for employees at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey. Currently, blue-collar workers on one side of the base are paid wages based on the New York City pay scale, while those on the other side of the base are paid wages based on the lower Philadelphia scale. 

AFGE thanks the council for the vote and urged a swift decision by OPM Acting Director Beth Cobert to implement the council’s recommendation. AFGE will continue to urge the Obama administration to align all federal locality boundaries so hourly and salaried employees who work in the same location are paid the same locality rate. 

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