12/17/07: Early this morning the details of the comprehensive omnibus appropriations package for fiscal year 2008 became available. Included in the omnibus bill is the 3.5 percent federal employee pay raise and language to reform the A-76 contracting out process. The package will be considered as part of H.R. 2764, as early as tomorrow in the House of Representatives.
NTEU fought from the beginning of the budget process for a federal employee pay raise of 3.5 percent. This is an increase of one half percent over the administration’s proposal to limit the raise to an unacceptably low level of 3 percent. Immediately after the President proposed this level in February and during the consideration of every single appropriations measure affecting both federal employees and military personnel, NTEU National President Colleen Kelley testified and worked to achieve the 3.5 percent increase for both groups. It is significant that this level was agreed to in the comprehensive package, because the House and Senate negotiators were forced to reduce spending in many worthwhile areas in hopes of finding a package that can possibly become law.
In addition to the pay raise, the NTEU-backed A-76 outsourcing provisions were included to level the playing field for federal employees in agencies involved in contracting-out projects. Under these provisions, which are made permanent in the measure, contractors bidding on jobs performed by more than 10 federal employees must meet a test of 10 percent of the most efficient organization’s (MEO) personnel-related costs; or show a $10 million dollar cost savings. In addition, the contractors are prohibited from counting savings from providing inferior health or retirement benefits to their employees. These changes will have an enormous effect on the ability of employees to compete for jobs they are qualified to perform.
While these two victories for NTEU are significant, they are not yet law. While Congress significantly lowered spending to satisfy the administration’s demands, NTEU will be watching the legislative procedures on this package closely. The next few days will reveal whether it can, in fact, become law.