Unions: Steep inflation warrants higher raise

The White House is proposing a 4.6% pay bump for FY 2023. Fed employee unions, citing steeper inflation and the many effectively raise-less years in the past decade, have their sights set on more—5.1%.

The current White House budget proposal for FY 2023 includes a pay boost for feds closing in on—but not quite at—5 percent.

The administration’s aim is to gain 4.6%, to be exact. If enacted, it would be among the highest bumps ever.

Yet, federal employee unions—representing hundreds of thousands of feds—are still pressing for the needed additional half-percent that would take their raise next year to just over that level.

Not surprisingly, the unions and outside economy-watchers note that with inflation currently running well over 5%, there is no real improvement in buying power here—instead, it would represent a COLA that is barely adequate.

“The 4.6% pay raise for federal employees proposed by the White House is a good opening offer,” Everett Kelley, president the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), said, “but to bring federal salaries close to market rates and compensate for the recent surge in inflation, we ask Congress to approve the 5.1% increase under the FAIR Act.”

AFGE represents employees across a wide range of agencies—from the Department of Veterans Affairs, to Social Security Administration, to the Transportation Security Administration, among many others.

Another of the largest federal employee unions, the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), also applauded the administration proposal—and pushed for the added half-percent that would flow from passage of the pending FAIR Act.

“Unlike previous administrations, federal employees can open the pages of this budget proposal and feel like their work is not just appreciated, but valued enough to warrant additional funding, staffing and support,” NTEU president, Tony Reardon said.

But, his union’s release on the matter added its plea—and reasoning—for the need for a bit more.

“The White House proposal to give federal employees an average 4.6 percent pay increase in 2023 makes clear that this administration understands that improving salaries will help attract and retain highly skilled workers around the country, a sentiment that NTEU strongly supports,” the union continued, highlighting how important a boost in this range is for recruiting and retention.

Yet NTEU added this powerful stat, in calling for FAIR’s passage: “The budget notes that between 2009 and 2020, U.S. average worker pay rose by 38 percent while federal civilian pay increases amounted to only a 15 percent increase.”

NTEU also represents a broad range of departments and agencies, such as Treasury, Defense, Energy and many others.

Another major federal union, the National Federation of Federal Employees, also in recent months has called for at least a 5.1% increase in federal pay.

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