2/1/08: NTEU National President Colleen Kelley this week welcomed a bipartisan letter from key Washington area members of the House of Representatives—led by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.)—to President Bush calling for a continuation of the long tradition of civilian-military parity in federal pay increases. The White House’s 2009 budget blueprint, containing federal pay proposals, will be made public next week.
“Pay parity is not a new concept,” they wrote. “Historically, Congress has expressed strong bipartisan support for parity in pay adjustments between our military and federal civilian employees, due to the essential service military and civilian employees provide to our nation, and the vast wage gap that exists between public and private sector wages.”
In addition to Rep. Hoyer, the bipartisan letter was signed by Reps. Albert R. Wynn (D-Md.), Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), C. A. Ruppersberger (D-Md.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), John Sarbanes (D-Md.), Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.), James P. Moran (D-Va.), Thomas R. Davis (R-Va.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes North (D-D.C.)
President Kelley, who is a leader in the annual effort to secure a fair pay raise and civilian-military pay parity, said “The letter reflects the intimate knowledge and understanding these representatives have of the important contributions their federal employee constituents make to our nation.” She noted that since the Washington metropolitan area is home to the largest contingent of federal workers in the nation, the message of this bipartisan group of House members to the White House about pay parity “is a vital step in securing the kind of fair pay raise critical to attracting and retaining in government service the skilled, dedicated women and men who form the backbone of every federal agency.”
The House letter addressed two reasons underlying their support for civilian-military pay parity, including the work both groups of federal employees perform in the continuing fight against terrorism.
“As we fight the war on terrorism at home and abroad,” they wrote, “both the armed services and the federal civilian workforce are integral to fulfilling the role of government for the American people. An equal pay adjustment in 2009 will send the important message that the services civilians and military personnel provide to America every day are highly valued.”
Moreover, they pointed to a looming increase in retirement eligibility among federal employees, saying the government is facing a “human capital crisis, with many of our most experienced employees poised to retire.” It is critical, they added, “that we be able to recruit and retain quality employees in the future.” Pay is a critical element in such efforts.