President Kelley Supports 3.5% Pay Raise for Military and Civilian Workers


3/21/07: NTEU President Colleen Kelley today joined with a coalition of organizations representing members of the military and their families in calling for a 3.5 percent pay raise in fiscal 2008 for military personnel. That raise would be half-a-percentage point higher than the three percent raise proposed by the administration for next year for both those in the military and members of the civilian federal workforce.

In letters to every member of the military personnel subcommittees of both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, President Kelley said the higher raise would help close the pay gap between these two groups of public servants and the private sector. She noted that the Defense Authorization Act for fiscal years 2000 and 2004 both required that pay increases for military personnel equal the annual increase in the Employment Cost Index (ECI), plus one-half of one percent.

“That standard has been used in every year of the current administration until 2007,” Kelley said, “when military personnel received only a 2.2 percent raise.” Citing the military coalition’s March 1 testimony before the House Military Personnel Subcommittee, she said the 2.2 percent figure was the smallest pay increase for the military in 13 years and occurred at a time “when troops are putting their lives on the line every day for the rest of America.” Like the military, President Kelley said, “federal civilian workers serve their country faithfully and are facing a widening pay gap.”

Despite the existence of the 1990 Federal Employee Pay Comparability Act — which was intended to close, in stages over 10 years, the public-private pay gap — such a gap remains. At present, Kelley said, federal employee pay is, on average, 13 percent less than that of their private sector counterparts.

In her letter to the House and Senate members, President Kelley reminded them that in nearly every year over the past two decades, there have been “equal adjustments in military and civilian pay” to help close the pay gap for these two groups of federal workers. “I want to urge the subcommittee(s) to provide the military with the additional one-half percent—and I will be pushing for the identical raise for the federal civilian workforce,” she wrote.

To review a copy of one President Kelley's letters, click here.