Today the President sent Congressional leaders a formal letter transmitting an alternative pay plan for the calendar year 2017 pay raise for federal workers in the General Schedule. Under current law, absent congressional action to establish a pay raise, the annual, across-the-board pay raise for most federal employee pay systems is set automatically using a formula tied to the Department of Labor’s Employment Cost Index (ECI), which measures the rise in private-sector pay. However, the 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. As called for in its Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 budget proposal to Congress this past February, the White House has now formally set the across-the-board raise for 2017 at 1.0%. The specific plan for additional locality pay increases will be released to Congress later this year — prior to December 1st as required by law; however, the administration confirmed today that 0.6 % will be designated for locality pay rates (will vary by specific locality pay area) for a cumulative 1.6% pay raise on average as originally proposed in the administration’s budget.
It is still possible that Congress could act on a different pay raise amount — which could include blocking a pay increase entirely. However, as of now, with overall FY17 congressional appropriations work incomplete as we near the start of the new FY on October 1st, Congress has remained silent on a pay raise, and should Congress remain silent through the end of December, today’s Alternative Pay Plan would become law. Language has been included in the pending appropriations bills to ensure that wage grade employees receive the same pay raise that is ultimately provided to employees covered by the General Schedule.
NTEU recognizes that the last few years’ erosion in federal pay — from the recent three-year pay freeze to the last three years of meager raises, has been devastating for our members. We continue to highlight the impact on the federal community’s ability to provide for itself and family members, as well as the repercussions on agencies and the American public if agencies cannot recruit and retain a skilled workforce. NTEU strongly supports legislation (S. 2699 and H.R. 4585) that would provide a 5.3% pay increase in January. To find out more, and see what you can do, go to http://action.nteu.org/app/write-a-letter?1&engagementId=179753. I will keep you updated on all administration and congressional developments through the end of the year that impact federal employee pay. And, we will continue to press for a higher pay raise to be included in a final FY17 funding bill.
Anthony M. Reardon