Sen Jon Tester added his voice to federal unions demanding a pay raise for federal employees that goes above the president's planned 1 percent. (Mark Wilson / Getty Images)
Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., joined federal employee unions in demanding a bigger pay raise than for federal employees. President Obama plans to propose a raise of 1 percent in the administration’s upcoming budget request.
Tester said while he does not have a specific pay raise in mind, 1 percent was not enough and he would work with federal employee groups to push for a bigger raise.
He said he thinks Congress will approve some form of federal employee raise this year.
“None of us are going to get rich in public service but we ought to be able to make a living doing our jobs,” Tester said Feb. 26 at the National Treasury Employee Union’s 2014 legislative conference in Washington.
NTEU president Colleen Kelley said at the conference that federal workers deserve a 3.3 percent pay raise to help offset years of a pay freeze and benefit cuts.
“We think that is fair and appropriate in light of the last four years,” she said.
She said the union would also push to cancel sequestration and reverse increases in pension contributions for new federal employees.
J. David Cox, the head of the American Federation of Government Employees, said in a statement Feb. 25 the expected 1 percent pay raise request is “pitiful,” and was not enough to help federal workers recover from a three-year pay freeze.
“A 4 percent pay raise is a modest and affordable increase that will help employees keep up with rising living costs, including higher retirement and healthcare expenses,” Cox said.
He said overall wages for federal employees have gone up 3 percent since 2010 while prices have risen 9 percent – even without counting furlough days many employees had in 2013.
“The president must send a strong message that inflicting pain on federal employees was a miserable failure. The administration punished federal workers in order to endear itself to those who despise the federal workforce, and it didn’t work,” Cox said.
William Dougan, national president of the National Federation of Federal Employees said in a statement Feb. 26 federal employees make 35 percent less than private sector workers performing the same job.
“The President’s proposed one percent pay adjustment for federal employees in 2015 is woefully insufficient to account for the significant decrease in real wages that federal employees have suffered in recent years,” Dougan said.
He said continued cuts and attacks on federal employees have put ‘morale in the toilet’ and that a majority of workers are looking to leave the government or retire.