Today, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) spending bill for FY 2019 as part of a package of appropriations bills that also includes appropriations for Interior, Agriculture, and Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (H.R. 6147, also called Minibus 2). The measure passed the Senate by a vote of 92 to 6.
NTEU worked closely with our allies in the Senate to protect the bill’s inclusion of a 1.9% pay increase for federal employees for January 2019, comprised of a 1.4% across-the-board pay increase and 0.5% for increases to locality pay rates (rates vary by specific locality pay area), despite the opposition from the White House, whose Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) (attached) on the bill expressed concern over the provision. As you know, the White House has called for a federal employee pay freeze for 2019. According to the SAP, the administration is concerned with providing an across-the-board pay increase since it will have long-term fixed costs, but not “address existing pay disparities, or target mission critical recruitment and retention goals.” Instead, the administration asks Congress to fund its proposed Workforce Fund which would be used to support “performance-based pay that is strategically aligned toward recruiting, retaining, and retraining high performers and those in mission-critical areas.” NTEU has expressed skepticism about the Workforce Fund since it would deny a pay increase to hundreds of thousands of federal workers who are performing their jobs admirably on behalf of the American people and, like the Americans they serve, are facing increased costs for food, housing, healthcare, and education. Additionally, neither chamber has acted to establish or provide funding for such a fund. We will continue to work with our allies in the House and Senate to ensure that the 1.9% pay increase remains in the enacted bill.
NTEU has also strongly supported the continuation of the moratorium on A-76 competitions that has been carried in the Senate FSGG bill for the past several years, and which is again included for FY19. We are pleased that the moratorium language is in both the House and Senate Appropriations Committee-passed FSGG bills for FY 2019. We have seen time and again the unfortunate results of outsourcing government work—increased costs, waste, fraud and abuse, in addition to less transparency and accountability for taxpayers, and appreciate the continued efforts of Congress to stop outsourcing efforts, particularly at a time when the administration is looking to make federal staffing reductions.
During the Senate’s consideration of the funding measure, Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, filed two amendments on official time. The first, S. Amdt. 3498, would require a detailed annual report on the use of official time, which contains additional reporting requirements such as union office space used, descriptions of specific activities using official time, and the outcome and impact of official time activities on agency operations. The language of this amendment is identical to the House-passed official time reporting bill, H.R. 1293, sponsored by Representative Dennis Ross (R-FL). Given that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) already publishes an official time report, this provision is not needed in statute. As you may recall, just a few weeks ago, OPM released its FY 2016 report which showed that official time accounts for less than one tenth of one percent of federal personnel costs and is used less than three hours per year per bargaining unit employee (consistent with previous years).
The May 25th Executive Orders (EOs) issued by the President as well as the newest FY 2016 OPM report (which states that official time provides no service to the taxpayer) make clear the true anti-labor aims of efforts such as this provision. Its sole purpose is to attempt to shepherd in the elimination of official time and to blunt the ability of labor organizations to operate in federal workplaces.
The second Johnson amendment, S. Amdt. 3500, would eliminate the use of official time unless the time is authorized as required under the May 25th EOs or the Office of Management and Budget has issued a report on official time that mirrors the requirements in amendment 3498/H.R.1293. If passed, it would demonstrate congressional support for the EOs and strengthen the administration’s hand going forward. I am pleased to report that NTEU was successful in working with its allies in the Senate to block both of these anti-union amendments from being added to the bill and from moving forward.
As the FSGG spending bill goes to conference, NTEU will continue to push to secure a pay increase for 2019 while fighting off attempts to further add policy language that adversely impact the rights and protections of federal workers and their ability to do their jobs.