Pay rise for federal workers as Trump signs spending bill

By on 19/02/2019
Show me the money – at last. US civil servants set for pay hike (Image courtesy: Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash).

The long-awaited, much fought-over pay deal for US federal workers finally went through last week, after President Trump signed off a spending package to avoid another government shutdown.

The new bill provides funding for government until September 30, and awards federal staff a 1.9% pay raise backdated to the beginning of the year.

The pay rise represents a defeat for Trump, who a year ago set out his plans to enforce a pay freeze throughout the 2019 budget period and called for the introduction of performance-related pay.

Pay battle

In a letter in late August Trump reiterated his stance saying: “I have determined that for 2019, both across‑the‑board pay increases and locality pay increases will be set at zero.”

“In light of our Nation’s fiscal situation, Federal employee pay must be performance-based,” he wrote.

Despite wavering in September, saying he would “take a good hard look” at the issue after opposition from unions, Democrats and some Republican politicians, he continued pushing for the freeze, eventually signing an executive order on the issue in December.

Victory, for now

Unions welcomed last week’s decision to overturn that order. NTEU National President Tony Reardon said the pay freeze had been an “insulting action” taken by the administration. “To say federal employees are relieved is an understatement,” he said.

“This funding package, while not perfect, shows that the American people want their agencies up and running, delivering services, and their civil servants to be treated with respect,” he added.

Employees will now see a 1.4% raise across the board and a 0.5% locality pay adjustment.

The next step to enact the pay rise is for Trump to sign another executive order “authorising a 1.9 percent raise and publishing new pay tables across the various compensation structures,” according to Government Executive.

It’s hoped the process to enact the retroactive pay rise will run more smoothly than it has for post-shutdown back pay.

Catching up

According to a letter from three Democratic representatives to Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney and Office of Personnel Management acting director Margaret Weichert, thousands of workers are still without money owed to them following the 35-day partial government shutdown.

House Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Government Operations Subcommittee Chairman Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and freshman Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) wrote: “We have heard reports of many instances of shorted pay and inconsistent tax deductions that left workers unable to make mortgage or rent payments.

“They also received pay-checks that did not reflect adjustments for missed insurance premiums, Thrift Savings Plan loan repayments, and court-ordered deductions, which have resulted in confusion and additional burdens on federal workers.”

About Natalie Leal

Natalie is a freelance journalist whose work has been published by The Sun Online, The Guardian, Novara Media, Positive News, and Welfare Weekly, among others. She also writes reports and case studies on global business trends for behavioural insights agency, Canvas8. Prior to working as a journalist Natalie worked for the public sector in social services for several years. She switched careers in 2013 after winning a fully funded NCTJ in a national writing competition. She holds a Masters degree in social anthropology from Sussex University where she specialised in processes of social change and international conflict and reconciliation processes.

One Comment

  1. Bob Wilson

    20/02/2019 at

    We don’t have a “Parliament” in the U.S.

    I hope this helps. Thank you.

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