5/1/08: NTEU National President Colleen Kelley today applauded a key Senate committee for approving a bill that would provide a 3.9 percent pay raise for military personnel in fiscal year 2009, a half a percent more than the President requested. She also renewed her call to Congress to continue the long tradition of pay parity between federal civilian employees and members of the military.
President Kelley said that the pay raise included in the mark up of the National Defense Authorization Bill by the Senate Armed Services Committee is well deserved considering the essential services provided by the men and women who wear our country’s uniform and called on Congress to approve a similar 3.9 percent pay hike for federal civilian employees. The White House budget blueprint, released in February, calls for only a 3.4 percent raise for members of the military and a 2.9 percent raise for the federal civilian workforce.
“By their day-to-day efforts on behalf of all Americans, both of these groups of federal employees serve our country and play an important role in defending our nation,” President Kelley said. “They deserve a fair pay increase that reflects their continuing contributions. Anything less will only accelerate the loss of skilled, experienced and dedicated employees from a wide range of federal agencies.”
President Kelley previously wrote to members of the Armed Services Committee supporting the Military Coalition’s request for a 3.9 percent pay raise. A 3.9 percent pay hike 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.
In light of the fact that a significant number of current federal employees will reach retirement eligibility over the next few years, the NTEU leader said that the real question is the government’s ability to recruit and retain talented employees who are highly-sought after by private employers. “It is bad enough that this White House has made clear it does not respect or value the contributions of federal employees,” President Kelley said. “But, its pay recommendations send a message that it does not care whether agencies have the high-quality employees the public deserves.”
Fair and adequate raises also would help close the acknowledged gap in pay between civilian federal workers and the private sector—currently standing at an average of 23 percent. 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. Any failure to attempt to close the public-private sector pay gap will put the federal government at a further disadvantage with the private sector in hiring, she said.