Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Washington, DC, United States (4E) – Kick ’em when they’re down. The entire federal workforce won’t be getting their federally mandated pay increases in 2019.
Included in this massive number are the 800,000 federal workers who’ve either been furloughed or are working without pay due to Trump’s government shutdown. Instead of showing some measure of compassion for struggling federal employees, president Donald Trump has gone ahead and signed an executive order that freezes pay for federal workers in 2019.
His reason: the government doesn’t have the money for the wage hikes.
Trump’s immoral pay freeze will affect more than 2.1 million federal employees, including most of the executive branch, said the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal employee union.
When he revealed this move in August, Trump cited “serious economic conditions” in cutting pay for civilian workers. “We must maintain efforts to put our nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases,” said Trump at the time.
Trump and federal lawmakers will still receive their salaries during the partial shutdown, but many federal workers aren’t, pointed out some political analysts.
“This is just pouring salt into the wound,” said Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union. This union represents 150,000 employees at 33 federal agencies and departments.
“It is shocking that federal employees are taking yet another financial hit. As if missed paychecks and working without pay were not enough, now they have been told that they don’t even deserve a modest pay increase.”
Reardon earlier said federal employees “have already endured years of little to no increases and their paychecks cannot stretch any further as education, health care costs, gas and other goods continue to get more expensive.”
Congress has approved legislation to give military service members a 2.6 percent pay raise, the biggest in nine years, but funding must still be approved.
The Senate passed a 1.9 percent increase for federal workers. The outgoing Republican-controlled House, however, never acted on the pay hike measure. On the other hand, the incoming Democrat-controlled Congress might vote to give federal employees a raise.
“We fully expect the new Congress to enact the modest 1.9 percent adjustment for all of 2019 which passed the Senate and received substantial bipartisan support in the last Congress,” said J. David Cox, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE)s that represents some 700,000 federal workers.
“There is no economic or budgetary justification for the President’s freeze and lawmakers agree that federal pay must rise not only as a matter of decency, but also in order to help agencies attract and retain the federal workforce that America deserves.”
Cox previously said federal worker pay and benefits have been cut by more than $200 billion since 2011.
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