Key lawmakers signal support for AFGE’s proposed 5.3% pay raise at government worker rally
WASHINGTON – As President Obama issued the final budget of his administration Tuesday, the American Federation of Government Employees called on Congress to raise wages for federal workers, extend paid parental leave to employees, and reject proposals that would undermine basic worker rights and protections.
“Federal employees have been given the short end of the stick for far too long. It’s time to start giving back to the workers who give so much to our country,” American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. said.
AFGE’s call for a 5.3% pay raise in 2017 has already won the backing of prominent lawmakers including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia, and Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland – all of whom endorsed the proposal during a legislative rally AFGE held Tuesday outside the U.S. Capitol.
“We are sick and tired of pay freezes and pathetic penny ante raises. We are sick and tired of falling behind inflation and further behind private-sector pay,” Cox said. “We’re not asking for any special treatment, just the pay increases we are owed after six years of low to no pay increases.”
AFGE supports several proposals in the president’s budget to invest in the federal workforce, including:
- Providing federal employees with six weeks of paid parental leave for the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child, and ensuring that employees can use sick days to bond with a healthy new child;
- Hiring additional staff at the Office of Personnel Management to answer phone calls and emails from employees regarding retirement claims, which would improve customer service and reduce the average processing time for claims.
- Increasing federal cyber security spending by 35% to modernize outdated federal IT systems, which could help prevent further attacks such as last year’s massive OPM data breach of federal employees’ personal information.
However, we are opposed to a provision included in the president’s budget that would allow the government to charge federal employees and retirees more for their health insurance if they are deemed unwell. We also oppose a plan to create regional Preferred Provider Organizations to compete against popular national plans, since this could segment the market and cause more harm than good.
“The federal government should serve as a model employer for the rest of the country to follow. Thanks to sequestration and budget cuts, federal employees have fallen further behind the private sector and are making less today than they did five years ago,” Cox said.
“We need to invest in our workers through higher wages and better benefits, and by fighting proposals that would undermine the government’s merit-based employment system.”