Democrats reintroduce bill to improve locality pay for some federal jobs
The Locality Pay Equity Act would ensure that locality pay determinations, currently bifurcated between the General Schedule and Federal Wage System pay scales, would be consistent for most federal employees.
Democrats in both chambers of Congress on Wednesday reintroduced legislation aimed at ending the “disparity” in how white- and blue-collar federal employees are compensated based on where in the country they live and work.
The Locality Pay Equity Act (S. 3308), introduced by Sen. Bob Casey and Rep. Matt Cartwright, both D-Pa., would ensure that both General Schedule and Federal Wage System employees are provided locality pay based on the same map of locality pay areas.
Currently, the locality pay program is bifurcated based on whether employees are paid according to the General Schedule or the Federal Wage System. While the General Schedule locality pay map is updated on a nearly yearly basis in part thanks to the Federal Salary Council, FWS locality pay boundaries are governed by the Federal Prevailing Rate Advisory Committee and still based largely on a map of domestic military installations drawn up after World War II. The prevailing rate committee twice recommended aligning locality pay boundaries across the two pay schedules during the Obama administration, but the proposal was never implemented.
Casey and Cartwright’s bill, last introduced in 2021, would prevent OPM from including more than one FWS wage area within a GS locality pay area, effectively ensuring that federal blue collar workers receive comparable pay increases aimed at reducing federal-private sector pay disparities in a given region to those received by their counterparts on the General Schedule. The bill is cosponsored by Sens. John Fetterman, D-Pa., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
“Every worker deserves to be treated fairly, regardless of pay schedule and time has long past for us to address this issue,” Casey said in a statement. “These workers are serving our nation and they deserve fair treatment from their government. This legislation would work to create a fairer compensation system and end these pay disparities.”
Cartwright described persistent wage disparities at the Tobyhanna Army Depot in his home state, where General Schedule employees are considered part of the New York-Newark locality pay area, while FWS workers are included in the lower-paid Scranton-Wilkes-Barre wage area.
“The hardworking men and women at Tobyhanna Army Depot work tirelessly to keep the American warfighter equipped with the best technology,” he said. “From navigational equipment to missile guidance and control, Tobyhanna is a role model for American ingenuity. But the outdated and unfair federal pay system has disadvantaged workers at Tobyhanna for years. Sen. Casey and I agree that we should be doing all we can to support these workers—and that includes ensuring fairness in terms of pay."
The bill already has the support of the National Federation of Federal Employees and the American Federation of Government Employees.
“It is fundamentally unfair that federal employees working side-by-side, for the same employer and in the same location, are paid different wages,” said NFFE National President Randy Erwin. “It is time to end these pay inequities by guaranteeing pay parity with the Locality Pay Equity Act.”
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