The Washington Post

Pay freeze bill gets the cold shoulder | Federal Buzz

This week’s talk of extending the pay freeze for federal workers has fired up many government employees.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday that would take President Obama’s initial two-year mandate through 2013. Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.), the bill’s sponsor, argued that Washington (Congress’s pay would also be frozen) and public employees have to make the same sacrifices as Americans in the private sector.

But that argument is growing stale among many in the federal workforce. A number of employees responded to The Washington Post and GovLoop’s question of how such a move would impact their personal bottom lines.

Tracy Erickson, IT Section Chief at the Internal Revenue Services, is having difficulty paying bills with a rising cost of living and wrote: “Unless our collective cost of living expenses are frozen as well, more of the federal workforce will be put at risk. Federal employee standard of living is at biggest risk … I have spent nearly 30 years believing in what I do and who I do it for. Just to be used as fodder.”

Terrence Hill, a human resources specialist for the Department of Homeland Security, also isn’t excited about the Obama administration’s proposal for a .percent pay increase.

“Even if we do, a .5 percent increase is hardly worth the aggravation of getting it through Congress,” he said. “New employees can still get longevity (step) increases and promotions, so they at least have some hope.”

Kanika Tolver, an IT specialist for the Department of Transportation, offered a practical way that the federal government could assist workers facing a pay freeze.

“You never know when pay freezes or lay-offs will occur.... It would be great if the federal government would have free seminars that could teach federal government employees how to better manage their income.”

Some employees in state and local government who are facing the same problems sympathized, while others believed that federal workers should face the kind of fiscal losses that they have.

Thomas Poli, a statistician for Nassau County in New York State, responded, “I have some experience with this. I work for a county whose finances were taken over by a state oversight board.… One of the first actions of the state board was to freeze pay; no steps, no cost-of-living increases, even though they were in our union contract. Nothing.”

“I work for the state of Kentucky and have not had a raise in years!” said Marilyn Gaines, a Family Support Specialist II. “I would love to see federal government workers have to deal with the same things we have to deal with!”

Some agreed with the cuts, but thought stipulations should be in-place to protect those who are already on a tight budget.

Do you have something to add? Share your story here or on Twitter using the hashtag #FedBuzz:

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Corey McCarren is a GovLoop Graduate Fellow.


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