Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., praised the 'modest pay raise and back pay for furloughed government employees.' (Brendan Smialowski / AFP)
Besides re-opening the government and providing back pay for hundreds of thousands of federal workers furloughed for the last 16 days by a partial government shutdown, the newly signed stop-gap funding bill offers an added surprise for most feds: A 1 percent pay raise beginning Jan. 1.
It would be the first across-the-board pay raise for feds since 2010.
The measure, which funds the government through Jan. 15, would allow Obama to proceed with an August executive order implementing a 1 percent increase in January, said Maryland Democratic Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin said in a joint news release.
“The promise of a modest pay raise and back pay for furloughed government employees are good first steps in recognizing the value of federal workers,” Mikulski said in the release. Federal pay scales have been frozen since 2010, although employees are eligible for step increases and other forms of higher compensation.
Jessica Klement, legislative director at the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE), noted that lawmakers could still block the executive order from taking effect via other legislation. If no additional money is appropriated for the raise, she added, agencies will “need to find it” elsewhere in their budgets.
Under federal law, Obama’s executive order automatically grants the 1 percent increase to federal employees paid under the General Schedule unless Congress specifically blocks it, said Matt Biggs, legislative and political director at the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, a union whose membership includes employees at NASA and other agencies.
But for some 230,000 blue-collar workers paid under the federal Wage Grade schedule to get the raise, lawmakers will still have to ‘proactively” pass additional legislation, Biggs said, adding that IFPTE will be working with the American Federation of Government Employees on the issue.