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Pay and Benefits Watch: Back in Session

Alex M. Parker | Government Executive

September 10, 2009

As Congress returns from a not-so-relaxing August recess, health care reform tops the legislative to-do list. But lawmakers also face several pieces of legislation affecting the federal workforce, which were left unresolved at the end of July.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Thursday will consider H.R. 1881, a bill that would eliminate the Transportation Security Administration’s special pay system, place its employees on the General Schedule and grant them collective bargaining rights.

A recent cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office found that the bill would cost about $690 million from 2010 to 2014, with much of that money going to pay raises, which could average $1,700 for each of the 36,000 employees in the bottom two bands of the current TSA pay scale.

Supporters of the bill said, rather than hurting its chances, the report shows why the legislation is necessary.

“When I look at the projected cost, I look at this more that it’s moving them to a fair system, rather than, that it’s giving them a raise,” said Charity Wilson, legislative representative for the American Federation of Government Employees. “For eight years, they’ve been under an unfair, often punitive pay system, under the Performance Accountability and Standards System. It’s not surprising that when you go from a system like that to a system that is transparent and objective that there would be differences in pay.”

The report noted, however, that the numbers are based on estimates; it’s still unclear how many employees would move up the pay ladder if they moved to the GS system.

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