Bill would ensure blue-collar feds get 1 percent pay raise in January

Friday - 11/22/2013, 11:11am EST

A new bill introduced this week by Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) would ensure blue-collar federal employees receive the same scheduled pay increase in January as General Schedule employees.

White-collar GS employees are due to get a 1 percent pay raise in January, under a plan announced in August by President Barack Obama, who has authority to set GS pay levels.

However, pay raises for wage-grade or hourly employees require separate legislation. With no action by Congress, pay for these employees would remain flat.

The "Support the Wage Grade Employee Parity Act," introduced by Cartwright Thursday, would require wage-grade employees' pay increases to be equivalent to the increases received by GS employees.

"The inconsistency in wages between WG and GS employees is inequitable," Cartwright said in a statement. "It hurts a group of Americans that can least afford a fourth year with no increase at all. "For this reason, I am proud to introduce this legislation which would benefit a group that has been particularly impacted by a four year pay freeze, the recent Defense furloughs and the government shutdown."

The Defense Department employs more than 174,000 wage-grade employees — the highest concentration of blue-collar workers among federal agencies. The Veterans Affairs Department and the U.S. Bureau of Prisons also employ large numbers of wage-grade employees.

Pay for workers employed under the Federal Wage System (FWS), according to OPM regulations, must generally align with with both the pay earned by both other federal employees and private-sector workers doing similar jobs in the same area.

Cartwright's bill has drawn bipartisan support, including from Reps. Tom Cole (R- Okla.), Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Frank Wolf (R-Va.).

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