12/19/07: With final House action pending that will send the fiscal 2008 Omnibus Appropriations bill to the White House for the president’s signature, NTEU will secure major legislative goals, including a 3.5 percent pay raise for federal civilian employees and government-wide restrictions that will result in a more level playing field for federal workers in the battle for federal work.
“This important measure will assure continuity of government operations and contain a number of provisions impacting federal workers in positive ways,” said NTEU National President Colleen Kelley.
NTEU led the fight against the administration’s pay proposal of 3 percent for federal employees next year; a 3.5 percent raise — which enjoyed widespread bipartisan congressional support — would match the figure previously approved for members of the military in 2008.
“Every year, more and more members of Congress make the connection between a fair and reasonable pay raise and the ability of federal agencies to recruit and retain high-quality employees,” President Kelley said. “The need for a fair pay raise is especially important given that federal pay continues to lag behind that of the private sector.”
On the contracting out issue — NTEU has been the leader in the fight against runaway federal contracting for many years — President Kelley noted with approval the omnibus provision to provide federal workers with the same rights to appeal agency contracting decisions that government contractors have enjoyed for some time.
“This rights an ongoing wrong,” she said. NTEU has argued the inherent unfairness of allowing contractors to appeal an agency decision to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), while denying that direct right to affected employees; only an agency official can bring an appeal before GAO on behalf of impacted employees.
The NTEU leader also welcomed another provision the union has been seeking: legislative language prohibiting contractors from gaining an unfair advantage in public-private competitions for federal work by offering their employees substandard or no health or retirement benefits as a way to lower their bid. “This always has been an egregious violation of fair play and common sense,” Kelley said, “and should never have been allowed.”
The positive changes to the contracting process would apply across the federal government.
On other important issues, NTEU will have succeeded in having Congress provide zero funds for implementation of a Department of Homeland Security replacement personnel system — major parts of which have been enjoined due to NTEU’s federal court victories; winning increased congressional scrutiny of the much-maligned merit pay system in the Transportation Security Administration; securing the prospective grant of a modified law enforcement officer (LEO) benefit to Bureau of Customs and Border Protection Officers; and in winning language prohibiting the closing of Food and Drug Administration field laboratories across the country.