Washington, D.C.—The head of the nation’s largest independent federal union threw his support behind a Senate pay bill introduced today, saying it would give middle-class federal employees their “first appropriate pay increase in years.”
Introduced by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and co-sponsored by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), the bill calls for a 5.3 percent federal pay raise in calendar year 2017. Called the Federal Adjustment of Income Rates Act of 2016, or FAIR Act, the measure is similar to a House bill introduced last month by Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), which has 40 co-sponsors.
“It is past time for a just pay increase for federal employees,” said National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) National President Tony Reardon. “Federal workers are critical to the effective functioning of our country and they have already given too much in the name of budget savings.”
The administration’s fiscal year (FY) 2017 budget request seeks a 1.6 percent federal raise next year, a figure Reardon has called too small. On top of enduring zero or miniscule raises, federal employees have had one small locality pay adjustment in the past six years. In that time, private-sector wages rose by an average of 10.6 percent, according to the Department of Labor’s Employment Cost Index.
“Like most middle-class Americans, federal employees face rising costs for education, health care and other goods and services. Their pay has barely increased while private sector pay rises. These low increases hurt agencies too as they struggle to compete for and retain the experienced employees they need. Our country ultimately pays the price,” President Reardon said.
NTEU represents 150,000 employees in 31 agencies and departments.