American Federation of Government Employees president J. David Cox

American Federation of Government Employees president J. David Cox AFGE photo

New AFGE president suggests retroactive pay raise for feds

J. David Cox says he will push Obama to consider other options.

The newly elected president of the American Federation of Government Employees will lobby President Obama to support a pay raise for federal employees retroactive to January 2013 if it is approved in the final fiscal 2013 budget, according a Federal Times report.

Obama announced earlier this week that he would use his authority to grant federal employees the across-the-board 0.5 percent pay raise he had proposed for 2013, but only after Congress passes a budget. Lawmakers anticipate passing a six-month continuing resolution when they return from the August recess, meaning the earliest the pay raise could take effect would be April 2013.

The president told lawmakers in a letter this week that locality pay will remain at current levels and his decision would not “materially affect the federal government’s ability to attract and retain a well-qualified federal workforce.”

Still, Obama’s decision disappointed labor union leaders, including newly elected AFGE President J. David Cox. He called it “unwarranted and unjustified,” adding “federal employees cannot afford another four months or even another day of frozen wages.”

Cox told Federal Times that he will try to convince Obama and lawmakers to reimbuse federal employees for the money they lose due to delays passing the budget. He said he would try to lobby to forgo the pay freeze extension entirely, but the current political climate is not likely to make that possible.

Congress uses continuing resolutions to provide funding for all or parts of the government at current levels if they do not pass appropriations bills by the end of the fiscal year. Congress is currently on recess and is slated to need a continuing resolution to keep government running past the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

Lawmakers have not included a 2013 pay raise for federal employees in any of this year’s appropriations bills. Under the 1990 Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act, the president can set a pay increase or allow the automatic adjustment under that law to take effect. The automatic adjustment would be a 1.2 percent increase, but Obama opted for the lower increase.

Cox and other union leaders support President Obama’s reelection despite their displeasure with the pay raise decision.