Today, the President sent congressional leaders a formal letter transmitting an alternative pay plan for the calendar year 2019 pay raise for federal workers in the General Schedule that would block a pay raise for January 2019 and freeze current pay rates—both the annual across-the-board pay increase as well as locality pay rates.
Under current law, the Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act, absent congressional action to establish a pay raise, the annual, across-the-board pay raise for most federal employee is set using a formula tied to the Department of Labor’s Employment Cost Index (ECI), which measures the rise in private sector pay. Under the formula prescribed under this law, the ECI figure minus a half percent, the across-the-board pay increase should be 2.1 percent. However, this same law also provides the President with the ability to set a different pay raise amount, which is required to be transmitted to Congress by September 1st of the preceding calendar year. Today’s action formalizes the White House’s planned January 2019 pay freeze as originally proposed earlier this year in the administration’s FY19 budget request to Congress.
It is still possible that Congress could act to provide a pay raise. As of now, though overall FY19 congressional appropriations work remains incomplete as we near the start of the new FY on October 1st, the Senate has passed an appropriations measure to provide on average a 1.9 percent pay raise amount in January. Specifically, the Senate-passed FY19 Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill would provide a 1.4 percent across-the-board raise for employees covered by the General Schedule, and increase the various locality pay rates by 0.5 percent. Language has also been included to ensure that wage grade employees receive the same pay raise that is ultimately provided to employees covered by the General Schedule.
NTEU is pleased the Senate has acted to block the administration’s planned pay freeze and is working to ensure this language moves forward in the upcoming formal conference with the House-passed FY19 Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill which is silent on a pay increase, meaning the President’s pay freeze would be implemented. NTEU also continues to support and press for legislation (S.2295 and H.R.4775) that would provide a 3 percent pay increase in January. To find out more, and see what you can do, visit the NTEU Legislative Action Center.
I will keep you updated on all administration and congressional developments that impact federal employee pay. The President cites both the cost of providing a raise and the lack of the current pay system properly allocating raises solely to those deemed to possess ‘critical skills sets’ as reasons for instituting a pay freeze in January. Ultimately, pay is what allows individuals to be able to support themselves and to provide for their families, and NTEU will keep fighting to make sure each and every federal employee earns a fair living for the important work that they do.