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Pay Freeze is Latest Way Federal Workers are Left Out in the Cold

Photo Credit: Win McNamee / Getty
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It's a not-so-happy new year for thousands of federal workers.

In the midst of a federal government shutdown, President Donald Trump issued an executive order on Friday freezing federal pay for 2019. The order stops the automatic annual 2.1 percent increase all civilian workers would have received on Jan. 1. It also zeros out the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) that is designed to cover the cost of inflation, which influences what working families pay for everyday essentials such as rent, food and gas.

This latest news from the Oval Office comes as more than 800,000 federal workers are either furloughed or are being forced to work without pay because of an ongoing political standoff over funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border – a dispute that culminated in a partial government shutdown 13 days ago today.

Earlier this week, two American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE)-represented corrections officers with the federal Bureau of Prison sued the Trump administration, alleging a failure to pay overtime wages on time. Both plaintiffs were deemed “essential” personnel and required to work overtime on the day of, or the overnight leading to, the shutdown. It is now a pay period later and these workers have yet to be paid for these additional hours worked.

Our sister union, AFGE, is supporting and facilitating the lawsuit, which seeks owed overtime wages for the two plaintiffs and other affected federal workers who also have been required to work overtime prior to the shutdown without compensation. Depending on how long the shutdown lasts, and how payroll is processed during the shutdown, the lawsuit could be expanded to cover more workers.

AFSCME strongly supports the lawsuit filed by these hardworking Americans.

“Canceling promised pay raises for working people out of spite is cruel,” AFSCME President Lee Saunders said in a Dec. 29 statement.

One of the first tasks for the incoming “pro-worker leadership in the House of Representatives,” Saunders said, “should be to reopen the federal government and deliver on promises made to working people.”