By Erik Wasson - 01/15/14 11:42 AM EST
Unions pleased with blue-collar pay hike in omnibus
The $1.1 trillion spending bill before Congress contains the first pay increase for hourly blue-collar federal workers in years and the union-pleasing provision has proven a big selling point for Democrats and some Republicans.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara MikulskiBarbara MikulskiBlack Caucus demands Flint funding from GOP GOP puts shutdown squeeze play on Dems Overnight Finance: McConnell offers 'clean' funding bill | Dems pan proposal | Flint aid, internet measure not included | More heat for Wells Fargo | New concerns on investor visas MORE (D-Md.) was instrumental in extending the 1 percent wage increase to an estimate 200,000 blue collar workers, many of whom work on military bases.
"This long-overdue modest [cost-of-living increase] for federal government employees is a good step in recognizing the value of blue-collar federal workers. They have been the targets of unending attack and have been furloughed, laid off and locked out through no fault of their own,” Mikulski said in a statement.
Appropriator Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) also took credit for the increase. Cole along with Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) introduced a standalone bill to increase hourly worker pay in November.
"We depend greatly on federal employees who work for hourly wages," he said. "Like in Oklahoma, many of my colleagues have a large number of federal workers in their state and district, and I was pleased that we could work together in a bipartisan manner.”
The American Federation of Government Employees said the provision is crucial because salaried workers were already scheduled to get a 1 percent increase, their first after a three-year pay freeze.
“Congress clearly recognizes the importance of ensuring pay parity for all federal employees, regardless of which pay system they fall into, and I am glad that this inequality was corrected,” said AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr.
“Wage grade employees are among those most in need of this pay increase,” said National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley.