The President and other politicians in Washington D.C., have decided that Federal employees don’t need or deserve a raise in the next five years. This is apparently intended to save Federal dollars but I think, no, I know those making the decisions are overlooking some important areas.
There are numerous Federal jobs out there, probably more than most people realize. Many are overpaid – that’s a fact. Some even do as little as they can do just to get by without really giving 100% of their work time and energy to the job. In other words, yes, there are some really lazy Federal employees who don’t deserve the money they get.
That said – there are numerous people out there working for the government who deserve every penny they earn and more. I’m talking about Federal law enforcement officials who risk their lives daily to protect and serve the people of the United States. Every agency, from the FBI, US Marshals, Border Patrol, and ICE, to the Bureau of Prisons, risk their lives daily when they go to work, yet the President doesn’t want to give them a raise for five years. Does he plan to keep the inflation rate from going up over those same five years or do these people simply have to take a pay cut? I wonder if his Secret Service detail, the one assigned to protect him personally, will be kept from a pay raise? If so, do they have a choice of whether or not to continue protecting him? Or should they only protect him as much as he thinks they’re worth?
Let’s face it - a maintenance person or a secretary working in a government office building, such as the Government Accounting Office or even a Federal courthouse, doesn’t face danger daily. Unless another Timothy McVeigh shows up one day, workers in these environments are reasonably safe and secure from physical harm. Should they get the same pay as those who face dangerous criminals every day? And I’m in no way criticizing these people but their jobs are not really dangerous, are they?
Being retired from the Federal Bureau of Prisons I’m particularly interested in (BOP) employees. Every day these dedicated people go into prisons all across the country and face thousands of convicted criminals, some more dangerous than others, but all dangerous in their own way. These staff members, from the secretary to the maintenance people to the correctional officers to the cook foremen, deal with these dangerous inmates, normally at a ratio that most people would find very frightening, and now they’re going to be asked to do it without a pay raise for at least five years.
Will the people who clean and care for the 211 year old White House get a pay raise? I wonder if, out of loyalty to the building itself and the history, they’ll continue to work there without getting any more money as the cost of living continues to climb? Or will they quit because the occupants of the building don’t want to give them a raise?
Congress has voted against their automatic pay raise again this year. That is two years in a row. I’ll give credit where credit is due on this one since they did the right thing. Will they continue to do it for five years or will they let one or two sneak by without mentioning it? That remains to be seen.
There are those who would say “Federal employees make more than their civilian counterparts.” In many cases this is true. In those circumstances, by all means, consider the job and the civilian pay equivalent and adjust it accordingly. But when it comes to law enforcement, rather than decrease the pay of the Federal employees how about increasing the pay of the local city, county and state employees? After all - is one of their lives worth less than his/her counterpart in the Federal system? And do we want to cut the pay of the people who risk their lives every day in service to the people?
So, Mr. President and members of Congress – here’s what I suggest. When you decide to freeze wages of Federal employees take a good, long look at what it is they do, how important it is and how dangerous it is before you issue a blanket freeze order for all. Mr. President, think about the people who risk their lives daily to protect you and your family simply because you’re the President. Those people will take a bullet for you if necessary. Are you going to deny them a pay raise? If they get it, are they better than the other law enforcement officers because they protect you?
I think these are valid questions. I hope you’ll listen and think before making such a large, and possibly devastating decision. These people work for you. The least you can do is treat them fairly.