House panel approves 3.5 percent military pay raise

A House Armed Services subcommittee on Wednesday passed a 3.5 percent pay raise for members of the military for 2008.

That figure, which is half a percent higher than the raise proposed by the Bush administration, likely will give federal labor unions an edge in pushing for an equivalent raise for civilian federal employees. The subcommittee approved it as part of the 2008 Defense authorization bill.

The National Treasury Employees Union and the American Federation of Government Employees have been pushing for a military and civilian raise larger than the Bush administration has proposed. NTEU has backed a 3.5 percent increase, while AFGE has pushed a 4 percent raise.

The fiscal 2000 and fiscal 2004 Defense authorization acts called for a 0.5 percent increase above the Employment Cost Index figure for the military. The administration followed that standard every year until 2007, when military and civilian employees received a 2.2 percent increase -- the lowest in many years.

Labor leaders also have stressed that over the past two decades, there have been equal adjustments in military and civilian pay nearly every year. NTEU President Colleen Kelley said that the "undeniable contributions" of civilian federal employees mean they warrant the same raise as military service members.

"NTEU strongly supports a minimum 3.5 percent raise in 2008 for the federal civilian workforce," she said, "and will continue our work in securing bipartisan congressional support for this increase for civilian and military employees."

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