President Biden’s fiscal 2022 budget proposes a 2.7% average pay increase for government employees in an effort to rebuild the federal workforce.
If enacted, the plan would in total boost the pay and benefits of civilians working in government agencies by $16.7 billion, or 4.4%, to $396.6 billion next year.
The proposal comes amid a push by the Biden administration to walk back changes made to federal employment under the Trump administration, including the curtailment of collective bargaining rights and the weakening of anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ employees.
“After decades of under-investment in a modern-day workforce, a failure to partner with labor unions, and ongoing, unwarranted attacks on its independence, the civil service is in need of repair and rebuilding and the administration has already taken swift action to deliver on that goal,” said a budget document published on Friday.
Biden has already issued executive orders directing agencies to review their policies for systemic barriers preventing people of color and underserved communities from accessing federal benefits and opportunities, as well as creating a Gender Policy Council.
The administration has so far restored collective bargaining rights, eliminated Schedule F and prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. If enacted, Biden’s budget would take things a step further by funding implementation of his “Protecting the Federal Workforce” executive order.
The proposed pay increase for federal employees matches what’s been proposed on the defense side and was praised by several unions, including the American Federation of Government Employees, which felt it showed Biden “respects the civil service and the work they do for the American people.”
However, the union said also that it would continue to advocate for the 3.2% average pay increase being considered by Congress in the Federal Adjustment of Income Rates (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 Everett Kelley, AFGE president, in a statement.
“On average, federal workers are underpaid by 23% compared to those doing the same jobs in the private sector and state and local government,” Kelley added.
The budget also includes funding for a paid family leave program when employees’ family members are critically ill.