“All employees, regardless of pay schedule, should be treated equally,” said Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa.

“All employees, regardless of pay schedule, should be treated equally,” said Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa. Matt Rourke/AP

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New Bill Would ‘Close the Gap’ in Locality Pay for Some Federal Jobs

Legislation in both chambers of Congress would ensure General Schedule and Federal Wage System employees receive comparable locality pay.

New legislation filed this week in both chambers of Congress would ensure that most federal workers see parity in how they are compensated based on where in the country they live and work.

The Locality Pay Equity Act (S. 3015), introduced in the Senate by Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and in the House by Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., would ensure that the General Schedule and Federal Wage System pay scales use the same locality pay boundaries.

Currently, while the GS locality pay map is updated with new regions and additions to regions nearly every year, the FWS map, which applies to federal blue-collar workers who make hourly wages, has remained stagnant for years.

The Federal Prevailing Rate Advisory Committee, which oversees FWS, voted in 2010 and 2012 to consolidate wage areas that lie within existing GS locality pay areas, but the Office of Personnel Management has declined to implement the change.

Casey and Cartwright’s bill would block OPM from including more than one FWS wage area within a GS locality area, effectively ensuring that FWS employees receive comparable pay increases based on high-cost-of-living regions as their local General Schedule counterparts.

According to OPM data, as of December 2018, more than 182,000 employees work in Federal Wage System positions.

Casey and Cartwright said they became aware of the problems after learning of such pay disparities at two Army depots in Pennsylvania.

“All employees, regardless of pay schedule, should be treated equally,” Casey said in a statement. “It’s long past time that we address this ongoing issue of Tobyhanna and Letterkenny. Workers at these army depots are serving our nation and deserve fair treatment from the federal government.”

“There’s no reason we should be using two different sets of pay boundaries, especially when it results in such an unfair wage gap,” Cartwright said. “Sen. Casey and I agree that it’s time to fix this outdated system.”

The American Federation of Government Employees, which represents workers hired to both the GS and FWS pay scales, endorsed the legislation and called it long overdue.

“Federal employees in the skilled trades commute along the same routes and face the same living costs as their salaried coworkers, and there is no rational reason why the government pretends they are in different locations once they arrive at work,” said AFGE National Secretary Treasurer Everett Kelley.