The tiny hope that federal workers were clinging to, the one that promised a 0.5% cost-of-living increase in their paychecks next month, appears to be dying a quick death, according to CNNMoney on March 15th.
Federal workers have been operating under a two-year pay freeze which was set to expire at the end of March, and last summer President Obama had ordered the tiny increase to be implemented when the freeze expired.
However, with the next federal budget deadline looming for March 27th, the Senate is debating a bill that keeps the freeze in place through the end of 2013.
Maryland Democrat Sen. Barbara Mikulski, who helped broker the deal, said that the pay freeze is "necessary" to stop a government shutdown, which would be far worse for federal workers than the freeze.
But Mikulski’s words are not reassuring to federal workers, who feel they have been unfairly targeted for cuts. In addition to the two-year cost-of-living freeze, they are being forced to take mandatory unpaid furlough days for the next five months, which results in a 20% pay cut.
Many private contractors who work with the government have had to lay off employees, or have instituted hiring freezes. The Pentagon itself has laid off 46,000 contract employees, and many organizations are reducing their workforces through attrition.
William R. Dougan, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, said, "This pay freeze extension is absolutely unacceptable. We need to end the reckless habit of singling out federal workers every time Congress finds itself in a self-imposed fiscal pinch."