President Carter's program of voluntary price-wage restraints for the private sector has temporarily blocked pre-Christmas raises - amounting to only pennies per hour - for the Washington area's lowest paid federal employes.
The 4,348 who have denied any pay increase are Defense Department aides who supply support services on military bases here. They include employes of post exchanges, service clubs, and on-post gas stations, cleaning establishments, maids, cooks and gas station attendants.
They are the lowest paid people in the U.S. work force and - except for some executives frozen at $47,500 pay levels - the only federal employes denied salary increases this year.
Many of the workers, who clean up or carry things for military personnel and their families, are furious about the denial of raises, which, in dollar terms, are peanuts.
Most of the so-called NAF (Non-Appropriated Fund) employes earn less than $160 a week. If they were in the private sector their low pay scales would make them exempt from the president's voluntary pay controls. But because they work for Uncle Sam, Defense has decided to hold up raises due many back on Oct. 22 pending a decision on how much they could be paid.
Although Defense has refused to release results of an August wage survey (comparing NAF wages with similar jobs in the private sector) sources confirm that some of the increases would be in excess of 7 percent. Although that amounts to only 16 cents an hour for most of the workers, it still exceeds the "voluntary" 7 percent figure President Carter is asking - without a whole lot of success - industry to follow.
Federal white collar workers got a 5.5 percent raise in October. Blue collar government employes in the Washington also got 5.5 percent. President Carter limited the white collar pay raise. Congress put the 5.5 percent cap on blue collar salaries. But the NAFs are in a sort of bureaucratic no-man's land. The result: no raises of any kind for them.
NAF employes in Alexandria were due pay increases Oct. 22. Those in Washington were due catch-up-with-industry raises Oct. 16 and Prince George's County employes were slated to get their raises Nov. 1. Although President Carter didn't spell out his voluntary wage-price program until Oct. 24, Defense decided to withhold raises due prior to that time to the Washington and Alexandria area NAF employes. The Prince George's raise, due Nov. 1, came after the guidelines had been announced.
Defense officials have asked the Civil Service Commission for advice on the NAF raises.
(Insiders specualte that the "average" catch-up-with-industry raise due the local NAF people is around 2 percent. This, they say, is why the Pentagon has bucked the matter over to CSC).
National Federation of Federal Employes president James Peirce has written CSC and the White House demanding the raises be paid now. Peirce says most of the NAF workers make less than $4 an hour, and many get only the federal minimum wage. "They too must live in high-cost Washington," Peirce said, "pay the same prices for food as other civil servants and high military brass." Peirce says it is illegal for Defense to hold the increases up, or to refuse to pay less than the going rate in industry for similar jobs.
Pentagon officials stress that the NAF workers will get a raise, some kind of raise, eventually. Soon, they hope.
With only a few shopping days left until Christmas, and with price increases that accompanied the recent 5.5 percent raise for other federal and military personnel, the NAF employes are bitter. Unless it comes quickly, some members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff may be forced to starch their own shirts.
What's My Title?: The U.S. Postal Service has reassigned seven of its top officials in a reorganization. It probably makes lots of sense there, but only makes for a mind-boggling job for people who must keep track of who's who.
Carl C. Ulsaker, former senior assistant PMG for the administration group, will become senior assistant PMG of the employe-labor relations group.Francis X. Biglin moves from being SAPMG for finance to SAPMG for administration . . . Jim Finch moves up from an assistant PMG job to take over Biglin's previous assignment . . . Edward E. Horgan Jr., takes Finch's old job . . . Chief Postal Inspector C. Neil Benson becomes SAPMG (acting) for operations . . . Edward V. Dorsey, who had the job, becomes special executive aid, to the postmaster general . . . Peter A. Del Grosso moves up to become assistant PMG for engineering.