White-collar federal workers will get a 2 percent pay raise next month, and retired government and military personnel will get a 4.2 percent cost-of-living adjustment in their January checks.

Those two major pay and pension items -- once on the chopping block -- have been protected in the budget compromise agreed to by Senate-House conferees, who hope to get the package through Congress and approved by President Reagan before Christmas.

The budget-cutting exercise has been confusing, and frightening, to workers and retirees who winced each time a money-saving option was considered by the conferees, who have been meeting for weeks.

At one point, conferees considered freezing federal pay and delaying or cutting the COLA due retirees. They also looked at money-saving plans that would have frozen within-grade (seniority) raises for white-collar workers, reduced lump-sum pension payments to retirees and placed a limited hiring freeze on most government agencies.

Credit for saving the pay and retiree raises goes to federal and postal unions and retiree groups who mounted a major grass-roots campaign and called in numerous political IOUs to protect the increases.

None of the benefits is absolutely safe until the deficit reduction package is finally approved and signed into law. But, given the uncertainties of the last few weeks, the tentative agreement looks safe and favorable to workers and retirees. Union Calendars

The American Postal Workers Union is offering its special 1988 union history calendar for $2 from the APWU Order Department, 1300 L St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20005.


The Professional Managers Association has given its outstanding service award to Internal Revenue Service's James I. Owens.

Pre-Christmas Holiday

Office of Personnel Management Director Constance Horner has recommended to the president that he release nonessential federal workers four hours early on Thursday. The decision is up to Reagan, but in 1981, the last time Christmas fell on a Friday, he did give federal workers a bonus half-day off on Thursday.

Name That Tune

The song at Thursday's Peace Corps Christmas party sounded like the "Twelve Days of Christmas," but new lyrics, added and sung by Director Loret Miller Ruppe, broke the news that PC will leave its Connecticut Avenue building next summer for new digs at 20th and K streets NW. The Peace Corps has been in the building overlooking Lafayette Park since it was launched in the early 1960s. The move will cost Ruppe what is considered one of the best views in town.

Pension Shopping

Most federal and postal workers have until Dec. 31 to pick a retirement plan. Employes hired before 1984 are currently covered by the Civil Service Retirement System. They must decide whether to remain with that program or switch to the new Federal Employees Retirement System. There will not be any extension of the open season past Dec. 31. It is possible that Congress will declare a new, limited open season next year, but as things stand, Dec. 31 is the deadline.