Instead of receiving their annual raise via the Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act, federal workers may see just a 1 percent raise effective January 2015.

President Barack Obama wrote a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Vice President Joe Biden at the end of August in which he proposed raising federal civilian and military pay by 1 percent across the board next year.

Federal pay rates automatically rise each year by a certain percentage under a formula established by the Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act (FEPCA), unless Congress or the president proposes an alternate plan. In 2015, the raises would have amounted to 1.8 percent for military personnel and 1.3 percent for civilian workers. In his letter, President Obama acknowledged that federal workers “have already made significant sacrifices,” referencing a pay freeze that ended this January, thanks to a 1 percent raise in December 2013.

“However,” he continued, “as the country’s economic recovery continues, we must maintain efforts to keep our (nation) on a sustainable fiscal course. This is an effort that continues to require tough choices and each of us to do our fair share.”

When word first spread in February that President Obama would propose the pay raise, reactions were mixed. On one side are supporters like U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, who lauded the president’s proposal, saying it would “go a long way in further recognizing the value of federal employees and help bring to a close years of pay freeze.”

Others, however, do not believe the 1 percent raise does enough for federal workers and only continues the trend of under-appreciating government employees. In fact, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) proposed legislation this year, called the Federal Adjustment of Income Rates (FAIR) Act, that would provide a 3.3 percent pay raise for federal employees for 2015.

Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), also noted that federal workers are paid less than those working in the private sector and that pay gap is increasing. Kelley said fair compensation is “a must if federal agencies are to be able to compete for the talented employees they will need in coming years.”

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