Senate Committee Approves End to Federal Pay Freeze

The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved a measure to boost defense civilian pay by one percent in 2014, potentially breaking a current three-year pay freeze.

The increase was included in the Senate version of the Fiscal Year 2014 Defense Appropriations Act.

Despite the committee’s approval, the measure must now receive a vote before the full Senate to advance. If it passes the full body, it awaits a serious challenge in conference committee where Senators and House Representatives will hash out the differences between their respective versions of the bill. No federal pay increase was included in the House version. Based upon prevailing attitudes of House leaders toward federal workers, they will fight hard to keep it that way.

“This was a necessary first step in the process to end the federal pay freeze,” said Randy Erwin, Legislative Director for the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE-IAM) Federal District 1. “We need NFFE-IAM members to make a lot of noise about this issue in the coming weeks. The House is going to do everything they can to force another year of frozen pay. Federal workers can’t take yet another year of that.”

The latest federal pay debate comes at one of the most difficult periods for the federal workforce in recent memory. A three-year pay freeze, pension cuts, wide-spread furloughs and deteriorating federal budgets have ravaged employee savings and morale. With nine more years of sequestration cuts and eight years of strict budget caps remaining, the pain is only expected to increase. With such a bleak horizon going forward, increasing federal pay would be an important way to maintain key talent and show workers that all of their sacrifice and loyalty is appreciated.

“Federal workers have shown unbelievable poise in the face of all the challenges we have seen in recent years,” said NFFE-IAM National President Dougan. “They have sacrificed left and right without asking for anything in return. They have earned a fair pay increase. We call on Congress to do the right thing for these dedicated Americans and give them the pay raise they deserve.”

In other promising news, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recently announced the Pentagon will reduce the number of furlough days faced by the department’s civilian workers from 11 days to six.