WASHINGTON – Federal employees in Des Moines, Iowa, and Imperial County, Calif., will begin receiving larger locality payments next year as a result of a recommendation by the Federal Salary Council, an advisory panel that includes two representatives from the American Federation of Government Employees.
The council is recommending creating a new pay locality for Des Moines, Iowa, and adding Imperial County, Calif., to the existing Los Angeles pay locality. The four union representatives on the 7-member panel also endorsed a motion by AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. to add Pine County, Minn., to the Minneapolis locality. However, the three council members appointed by the White House opposed the motion, meaning the final decision will be left to the President’s Pay Agent (comprising the heads of the Office of Personnel Management, Office of Management and Budget, and Department of Labor).
The council’s union representatives also strongly supported maintaining the current method for evaluating pay disparities between federal and non-federal employees. As a means of undermining the locality pay system, the council’s three Trump administration appointees are trying to redefine the very notion of pay disparities between the federal government and the private sector by including the cost of federal employees’ health insurance and retirement benefits. The current method of comparing salaries uses data from employers whose workers perform the same functions as federal employees, not merely broad private-sector averages. But private data on health insurance and retirement benefits, besides being extraneous to salary comparisons, uses broad averages and thus includes the many private employers who provide little subsidy for health insurance and the majority who provide no retirement benefit at all.
AFGE President Cox, who sits on the council along with Public Policy Director Jacque Simon, issued the following statement:
“The Federal Salary Council’s sole charge is to measure pay disparities between federal and non-federal employees based on geographic localities and recommend annual locality pay adjustments to help close these pay gaps. The high-quality statistical methods the Federal Salary Council has always used are developed by professional economists at the Bureau of Labor Statistics and are entirely valid. Attempts by the Trump administration’s council appointees to discredit these studies and cast doubt on their findings is a transparent attempt to politicize the council’s work and further the administration’s anti-worker agenda.”