Biden Proposes 2.7% Pay Raise for 2022, Labor Unions Demanding More 

Last week, President Biden proposed an average 2.7% pay raise for federal employees in his budget blueprint set for 2022. The majority of unions and other organizations representing federal employees responded President Biden’s proposed average pay raise of 2.7% for 2022, with a tone of gratefulness, but also demanding more. 

The 2022 White House budget documents officially noted: 

Supporting Career Civil Servants as the Backbone of the Federal Workforce. To help departments and agencies recruit and retain a diverse and inclusive Federal workforce, the Budget ensures more Federal employees are eligible for a $15 per hour wage, and provides funding for a pay increase averaging 2.7 percent across the Federal civilian workforce, in parity with the military pay increase. The President also took steps on his first day in office to protect the health and safety of Federal employees and contractors during the COVID-19 pandemic, including enforcing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s science-based guidelines and directing agencies to finalize and implement workplace health and safety plans. The President also made clear that he encourages union organizing and collective bargaining by revoking executive Orders 13836, 13837, and 13839 that made it harder for Federal workers to unionize and bargain. The President’s executive Order on Protecting the Federal Workforce also directs agencies to bargain over additional subjects of bargaining, so that workers have a greater voice in their working conditions. 

If the proposal is implemented as it stands, it would provide equality of pay between the civilian and military workforce, with service members also slated to receive a 2.7% pay raise in 2022. 

While the proposal for 2022 is an increase from last year’s 1.0% across-the-board hike, it is still not enough for many representatives of the federal workforce. In March, Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Representative Gerry Connolly (D-VA) reintroduced the Federal Adjustment of Income Rates (FAIR) Act, a bill that would give federal employees with a 3.2 percent pay raise in 2022. 

Additionally, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) — the largest federal employee union, are currently demanding for a greater increase in pay as outlined in the FAIR Act. 

“While we are supportive that the long tradition of military-civilian pay raise parity has been honored in the president’s proposal, 2.7% is simply not nearly enough to compensate for the losses in buying power of federal wages and salaries over the past decade,” said AFGE President Everett Kelley. “On average, federal workers are underpaid by 23% compared to those doing the same jobs in the private sector and state and local government. We ask Congress to support the modest 3.2% increase included in the FAIR Act.” 

In a press announcement, the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) said it is also working with Congress to pass the FAIR Act (H.R. 392 and S. 561) which would provide federal employees a 3.2 percent average pay increase next year. “This legislation has broad support and provides a 2.2 percent average across the board increase and a 1 percent adjustment to locality pay, which is essential for employees who live in high-cost areas of the country,” NTEU said. 

NTEU National President Tony Reardon called the 2.7 percent average pay raise “a solid step in the right direction, especially after four years of White House proposals for low or no pay increases and policies that disrespect middle class public servants across the country.” 

“It is gratifying to hear that the Biden administration is returning to standard practice with its proposal of a 2.7 percent average pay increase across the civil service, which is on par with private-sector wage hikes and his proposed pay raise for the military,” said National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) National President Ken Thomas. “With this raise, the administration is demonstrating respect for hard-working civil servants and the jobs they do, and we urge Congress to follow suit.” 

“While the 2.7 percent proposed increase can’t make up for past furloughs, pay freezes and benefit cuts, it will help narrow the gap between public- and private-sector pay, key to government recruitment and retention and continuation of government services,” Thomas said. 

With this amount of solidarity across multiple groups, organizations, and representatives, there is weight behind the movement to increase the pay raise beyond 2.7 percent. 

Currently, the White House’s budget proposal is not clear on how locality adjustments will be affected in 2022. Throughout 2021, locality adjustments have been frozen at 2020 levels. 

The final decision on the 2022 federal pay raise will likely be settled on by December after Congress and the White House factor in everyone’s voice and come to an official consensus.  

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