3.8 percent pay raise: Reality check!!!

3.8 percent pay raise: Reality check!!!

Friday – 1/16/2015, 2:00am EST

The bad news about the 2016 federal pay raise is it probably won’t be worth anywhere near 3.8 percent. Why? Couple of reasons:

Like most political stuff it is complicated. And not always what it seems. Example:

On the upside, all 31 of the House and Senate members who are proposing the 3.8 percent January increase are Democrats. Unity is good.

On the downside, Democrats lost control of the Senate last November. They also became even more of a minority in the House..

The reality — thanks to those who bothered to vote in last year’s mid-term election — is that most of the 535 members of Congress are not Democrats. Do the math.

The good news is that their dual minority status (in both the House and Senate) has converted some Democrats, who previously didn’t give a flying fig about “bureaucrats” into passionate pro-civil servant legislators.

Many Democrats now demanding fair play and better pay for federal employees — in the form of a 3.8 percent pay raise next year — voted with the White House when it first proposed a two-year (later extended to three-year) federal pay freeze.

The question long-time Washington hands might ask is if these suddenly pro-pay raise Democrats have seen the light and realized the error of their ways? Decided that the 3 years of no pay raises, followed by two years of 1 percent pay raises, have worked a hardship on federal white collar workers. Do they believe that the economy is so much improved that feds should go from zero to 3.8 percent? Or …

As some cynics might point out, are the new pay raise converts playing politics? Have they decided that since they are in the minority — meaning tight-fisted, anti-fed Republicans are firmly in the majority — they can now afford to be generous on the pay front? Possibly because they know a pay raise of that amount (3.8 percent) doesn’t stand a chance, but will cast the GOP in an even worse light with federal workers. I’m just saying …

Some Democrats now pushing for the 3.8 percent raise are true believers. They’ve been behind feds for a long time. They understand the situation and, not incidentally, get elected from congressional districts that are full of federal and military personnel and retirees. They know and like feds, and also know they better if they want to remain in Congress. They include Beltway area Reps. Gerry Connolly, Steny Hoyer, Elijah Cummings, Chris Van Hollen, Eleanor Holmes Norton and freshman Don Beyer. All are from Maryland, Virginia or D.C., which is home to 14 percent of the federal workforce.

Some of the new pro-pay raise converts, however, have previously gone along with pay freeze after pay freeze — when proposed by their President.

Now that they are out of power (at least for the next two years) some would say the Democrats — certain that Republicans will oppose it — have nothing to lose by supporting a more generous/deserved pay raise for feds.

Does that sound cynical?

Author: AFGE Local 704

Representing over 900 bargaining unit employees working at the U.S. EPA Region 5 Offices in Chicago, Ann Arbor, MI and Westlake, OH.

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