At least half of the government's 1.4 million white-collar workers will get a salary increase next year -- either a longevity raise or a job promotion -- despite the freeze on federal pay.

The pay freeze applies only to the across-the-board raises that civil servants usually get each year. It doesn't cover promotions or within-grade raises.

About 530,000 white-collar federal workers will come due for within-grade raises next year. According to government figures, 99 percent of those eligible for the raises -- worth about 3 percent -- get them.

In addition, the freeze does not apply to the 265,000 white-collar federal workers who are expected to be promoted next year. Although some agencies may slow promotions on their own, there is no government-wide ban on them.

In the past several weeks, many feds have called this writer to say they heard -- or read -- somewhere that longevity raises and promotions are frozen. Not so!

Some bosses just do not like to say "no" when an employe asks for a promotion. Some of them tell the worker that while they would love to give him or her a promotion, they can't because "the president" won't let them. That line goes back to the days of President Coolidge, if not before.

So if you come due for a promotion or a longevity raise next month, or next year, and don't get it, blame it on somebody lower on the government totem pole than President Reagan.