WASHINGTON – The American Federation of Government Employees, the nation’s largest federal employee union, is calling on Congress to pass legislation granting the government’s blue-collar workers the same pay raise other employees are receiving in January.
White-collar employees in the government’s General Schedule pay system will receive a 1 percent pay raise in January, ending an unprecedented three-year pay freeze. However, Congress must pass separate legislation to extend this pay raise to blue-collar workers under the Wage Grade pay system.
“Without immediate action by Congress, more than 200,000 employees at our military bases, veterans’ hospitals, federal prisons and other worksites will be denied the modest pay raise being given to all other federal workers,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said. “Congress must take immediate action once the legislative session resumes in January to rectify this inequitable situation.”
Rep. Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania introduced legislation in November that would provide Wage Grade employees the same pay raise General Schedule employees are receiving in January. This legislation has the bipartisan support of more than 20 representatives, but the House adjourned for the year without taking up the bill.
AFGE also supports separate bipartisan legislation introduced by Rep. Cartwright that would address longstanding inequality between blue-collar and white-collar employees in determining locality pay.
In numerous locations, the government treats hourly and salary workers who work in the same location as if they worked in different locations when it comes to calculating local pay rates. White-collar locality boundaries are drawn to encompass metropolitan labor markets, as defined by census data on commuting rates. Blue-collar locality boundaries are drawn according to the placement of military installations in the 1950s, long before federal white-collar workers were paid local differentials.
“No private employer that varies pay by locality draws different boundaries for salaried and hourly workers, and the federal government should follow suit. Treating salaried and hourly workers differently in this context is unfair and inefficient,” Cox said. “Federal workers in the skilled trades commute along the same routes and face the same living costs as their salaried coworkers. It is unconscionable that, once they arrive at work, their employer pretends they are in different locations.”