The Washington area's 21,000 federal blue collar workers, who had hoped for an October repeat of the year, would be held to 5.5 percent this year under a Senate-passed bill that is likely to sail through the House.
Next step for the 5.5 percent blue collar pay "cap," similar to the wage lid President Carter has proposed for white collar federal civilians, is to go to a joint Senate-House conference committee. If the House agrees to the 450,000 mechanics, laborers and skilled trade workers could get pay raises exceeding 5.5 percent during the upcoming fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.
Washington area blue collar workers would be among the first hit by the 5.5 percent pay ceiling because their catch-up-with-industry raise falls due in October, after the fiscal year begins.
The 5.5 percent pay limit President Carter will order for federal white collar and military personnel would affect 320,000 civilian federal employes here. If the cap is extended to blue collar workers, both groups would get the same 5.5 percent raise in October.
In October 1977, Washington area blue collar workers got an average 8.52 percent raise. This year they had expected roughly the same amount under the legal pay machinery that provides for annual adjustments - staggered at different times in different localities - to bring them up to prevailing rates paid in the local blue collar job market.
About half the federal blue collar workers here are employed by Defense, Army, Navy or the Air Force.
Rep. Gladys N. Spellman (D-Md.) is leading a fight to persuade the House to reject the 5.5 percent blue collar pay cap. She represents thousands of local blue collar (wage board) federal employes.
In a House speech yesterday, Spellman warned her collegues that approval of the Senate pay cap would boost the power of the Appropriations Committee charged with setting policy and authorizing expenditures for various agencies and programs.
Spellman said that in recent years, the appropriations units have cut into the turf of other committees - like the Post Office-Civil Service Committee she serves on. It is supposed to handle federal pay matters, but was side-stepped (as was its Senate counterpart) in the Senate Appropriations Committee action to hold blue collar wage gains to 5.5 percent.
More than 200,000 blue collar workers in other parts of the nations have already been given pay raises this year, based on government surveys of local industry salary gains. Those increases, to date, have averaged more than 8 percent.
All Wet? Federal firefighters say the White House has been passing out bad data about the impact of a firefighter work week reduction bill the President recently vetoed. The measure would have cut the basic work week for those employes from 72 hours to 56 hours.
President Carter said the measure would have amounted to an "inflationary" pay raise for the firefighters. In fact, the firefighters say, most would take a pay cut as a result of lost overtime. They also say the President's figures on the cost of hiring replacement personnel because of the reduced work week are inflated.
There is a move afoot to attach the reduced firefighter work week bill to the President's civil service reform package now before the House Post Office-Civil Service Committee.
Federal-Military Retirees: They are due a minimum 2.8 percent cost of living annuity increase effective Sept. 1 and payable first in October checks. That 2.8 percent amount could go higher (but not lower) if the Consumer Price Index for the month of June increases. The CPI is the national measurement of living costs and federal-military pensions are tied to it.
Former government and military personnel now get two cost-of-living raises each year (March 1 and Sept.11) to help them keep current with prices increases.
One Hundred Clerical jobs: A typographical error here yesterday resulted in the wrong telephone number for details on Grade 2 through 5 fulltime and part-time openings at the International Communications Agency. The jobs are for clerk-typist and clerk-stenos. The correct number is 724-9468. Repeat, 724-9468.
Personnel Management Specialist: Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration has a Grade 12 job opening in Arlington. Call Mrs Merkel at 235-1352.