Omnibus Spending Provision Enacted with 3.5% Pay Raise and Other Important Provisions Sought by NTEU
In an important victory for federal employees, on December 26, 2007, President Bush signed an omnibus appropriations bill for fiscal 2008 that contains the 3.5% federal employee pay raise that NTEU has been advocating for on Capitol Hill for many months. In addition to the higher pay raise, the new legislation also contains several other NTEU-supported provisions, including improved rights for federal employees in contracting out competitions, an enhanced retirement benefit for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers and a prohibition on a plan to reorganize and downsize Food and Drug Administration (FDA) food and drug safety operations.
The president signed the legislation despite previous administration objections to these provisions, including the higher federal pay raise. The 3.5% raise is a half a percentage point higher than the 3% raise that the White House has pushed for since its original budget proposal last February. “No matter how you frame or address the issue of having federal agencies advance a competitive posture in recruiting and retention efforts, fair pay and reasonable pay increases are always a major factor,” NTEU national President Colleen Kelley recently noted. President Bush subsequently issued the necessary executive order on pay.
In the wake of the meager 2007 federal civilian pay raise, which averaged 1.8%, the lowest in 18 years, it was one of NTEU’s major priorities to obtain passage of a fair pay raise for 2008. Throughout 2007, NTEU has led the fight for the higher raise. “NTEU’s ceaseless lobbying effort to obtain the best pay raise possible each year is just one of the many key ways that the union represents SEC employees,” noted Chapter 293 President Greg Gilman. “Thank you to all of the members of Chapter 293 who pay modest union dues each year to make this important work possible.”
The omnibus legislation also contains vital improvements in federal contracting rules, one of which prevents contractors from offering substandard or no health or retirement benefits to its employees as a means of gaining an unfair advantage in bidding against federal employees for such work. NTEU has long been the leader in the fight to level the playing field in federal contracting and in seeking to keep the work of government in the hands of trained, accountable federal employees. The legislation also provides zero funding for implementation of a new personnel system by the Department of Homeland Security, and increased scrutiny of the merit pay system in the Transportation Security Administration. NTEU played key roles in each of these issues.