Hapless Federal Workers Denied Pay Hike by Trump

Ruthless Trump
U.S. government shuts down because of Trump (Photo: Reuters)

The 800,000 federal workers who've either been furloughed or are working without pay due to Trump's government shutdown -- and the rest of the federal workforce for that matter -- won't be getting their federally mandated pay increases in 2019.

Instead of showing some measure of compassion for suffering government employees, Trump has gone ahead and signed an executive order that freezes pay for federal workers in 2019. His reason: the government doesn't have the money to pay for the small wage hikes.

Trump's unconscionable pay freeze will affect more than 2.1 million federal employees, including most of the executive branch, said the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal employee union.

When he revealed this move in August, Trump cited "serious economic conditions" in cutting pay for civilian workers. "We must maintain efforts to put our nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases," Trump said at the time.

Trump and federal lawmakers will still receive their salaries during the partial shutdown, but many federal workers aren't, pointed out some political analysts.

"This is just pouring salt into the wound," said Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union. This union represents 150,000 employees at 33 federal agencies and departments.

"It is shocking that federal employees are taking yet another financial hit. As if missed paychecks and working without pay were not enough, now they have been told that they don't even deserve a modest pay increase."

Reardon earlier said federal employees have already endured years of little to no increases and their paychecks cannot stretch any further because education, health care costs, gas, and other goods continue to get more expensive.

The Senate previously approved a 1.9 percent increase for federal workers. The outgoing Republican-controlled House, however, never acted on the pay hike measure. On the other hand, the incoming Democrat-controlled Congress might vote to give federal employees a raise.

"We fully expect the new Congress to enact the modest 1.9 percent adjustment for all of 2019 which passed the Senate and received substantial bipartisan support in the last Congress," said J. David Cox, AFGE's president. 

Cox said there is no economic or budgetary justification for Trump's wage freeze. He said lawmakers agree that federal pay must rise not only as a matter of decency but also help agencies attract and retain the federal workforce America deserves.

Cox previously said federal worker pay and benefits have been cut by more than $200 billion since 2011.

States with largest share of federal employees are California (250,000); Texas (200,000); Virginia (178,000) and Maryland (147,000).

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