Bipartisan Senators Call for Ending Wage Disparities Among Federal Workers

US Senate© tupungato / Getty Images / Canva

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a bipartisan effort to address longstanding wage disparities within the federal workforce, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have spearheaded a call to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) this week, urging the adoption of new regulations that would equalize pay for hourly and salaried employees at key national security facilities.

This initiative, aimed at workers including those at Pennsylvania’s Tobyhanna and Letterkenny Army Depots and Maine’s Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, seeks to resolve an issue where salaried employees currently receive higher locality pay than their hourly counterparts. The discrepancy has been a point of contention, seen as undermining the unity and fairness among the workforce critical to military readiness and national security.

The push for reform is grounded in a recommendation from the Federal Prevailing Rate Advisory Committee (FPRAC), which voted 9-1 in favor of updating regulations to harmonize locality pay areas for hourly and salaried federal workers. This move, long advocated by Senators Casey, Collins, and others, aims to rectify over 15 years of inconsistent pay boundaries that have placed undue financial strain on hourly Wage Grade (WG) employees compared to their General Schedule (GS) salaried peers.

The senators’ letter to OPM emphasizes the necessity of swift action, highlighting the regulation’s potential to enhance military readiness in a time of global instability and to establish a more equitable environment within the federal workforce. The proposed change is seen as essential for the government to remain competitive with the private sector in retaining skilled tradespeople who perform critical functions nationwide.

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Despite broad support for the FPRAC’s recommendation, three months have elapsed without formal acceptance from OPM, prompting the bipartisan group of senators to press for immediate progress. The coalition behind the letter includes a diverse array of voices from across the political spectrum, demonstrating the widespread acknowledgment of the need for pay equity among federal workers.

The adjustment of locality pay boundaries, as outlined in the proposed revision to 5 CFR § 532.211, represents a significant step towards rectifying a longstanding issue of fairness and equity between the two major pay systems within the federal government. As the rulemaking process looms, the outcome of this initiative could have far-reaching implications for thousands of federal employees and the overall efficacy of the nation’s civil service.

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