NTEU Blasts 2.9 Percent Civilian Pay Proposal; Calls for 3.9 Percent and Pay Parity


2/4/08: The administration’s proposal for a 2.9 percent pay raise in 2009 for federal civilian employees will accelerate sharply the loss of skilled, experienced and dedicated employees from a wide range of federal agencies in coming years, NTEU National President Colleen Kelley said today. She called for a raise of 3.9 percent next year for both civilian employees and members of the military.

A raise in that amount would reflect the applicable Employment Cost Index (ECI) of 3.4 percent, plus one-half of one percent, which is the formula that has been used in recent years. The ECI is put together by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and reflects employment costs across the country.

There is no question, said Kelley, that a significant number of current federal employees will reach retirement eligibility over the next few years. “The real questions,” she said, “are the extent to which we can retain in government the institutional knowledge developed over many years by this skilled workforce—and the government’s ability to recruit talented new employees who are highly-sought after by private employers. Pay, more than any other factor, often drives the decision.”

The White House pay proposal would also do nothing to help close the acknowledged gap in pay between the public and private sectors. That gap currently stands at an average of 23 percent.

This failure, for the third year in a row, to make any attempt to close the public-private sector pay disparity, Kelley added, “will put the federal government at a further disadvantage with the private sector in hiring.” Closing the gap with the private sector was the stated goal of the 1990 Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act (FEPCA), which created a system of locality pay but which has not been implemented as intended since its enactment.

On a closely-related matter, the NTEU leader added that “it is extremely disappointing to see that this administration has once again ignored the equity involved in military-civilian pay parity.” The budget blueprint calls for a 3.4 percent raise for members of the military. “The long-standing concept of pay parity—supported again last week in a bipartisan letter to the White House from 10 Washington area members of the House—reflects the vital contributions made to our national interest and security by these two groups of hard-working federal employees,” Kelley said. “It is bad enough that this White House has made clear it does not respect or value the contributions of federal employees,” said Kelley. “Its pay recommendation each year sends a further negative message that it truly does not care whether agencies have the high-quality employees the public expects and needs.”

The twin fights for pay parity and a 3.9 percent raise in 2009 will be legislative priorities for the union and its members this year, she said.