WASHINGTON—J. David Cox Sr., national president of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), AFL-CIO, issued the following response to President Obama’s letter to Congress regarding federal pay:
The president’s decision to extend the two-year federal pay freeze until Congress passes a budget is absolutely unwarranted and unjustified. He could have used his authority under the Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act (FEPCA) to set the pay alternative pay plan at 0.5 percent. Instead he has contradicted his own fiscal year 2013 budget promise of an end to the pay freeze. President Obama not only proposed a 0.5 percent federal pay adjustment for January 2013, he has also repeatedly referred to his support for an end to the two-year pay freeze in numerous statements to Congress.
Federal employees are the lone Americans who have made any sacrifice whatsoever to deficit reduction, suffering not only a two-year, $60 billion pay freeze, but also substantial cuts to retirement benefits. The contractor workforce, a group that is three times the size of the federal workforce and substantially more expensive in terms of both salaries and benefits, has not been asked to sacrifice one red cent. In fact, contractor CEOs and their employees will see their pay increase while federal employee pay remains frozen.
The well is dry, Mr. President. Federal employees cannot afford another four months or even another day of frozen wages. The VA nursing assistant struggling on less than $30,000 per year has already lost almost $2,000 during the last two years, while still facing rising health insurance premiums, and annual increases in rent, child care, and grocery prices.
AFGE calls upon the administration to negotiate a pay freeze in health care premiums which would otherwise increase in January 2013. If our pay must be frozen, then so should our health care premiums.