Draining the DC swamp: Exile or escape?

Workers in the Washington-Baltimore locality pay area are paid considerably more than feds in the same grade, doing the same job, in Kansas City, where the USDA...

Phase one of President Donald Trump’s pledge to drain the D.C. swamp is the pending transfer of hundreds of Agriculture and Interior department employees, or at least their jobs, to a to-be-determined site in Kansas City. About half the incumbents said heck-no-we-won’t-go, and the American Federation of Government Employees says it’s a potentially costly, disruptive political act that is stupid, vindictive and — their words — illegal.

Roughly 15 of every 100 nonpostal federal employees is based in Washington, D.C., on in its suburbs, which include parts of Northern Virginia, Maryland and a couple of counties in West Virginia.  Workers in the Washington-Baltimore locality pay area are paid considerably more than feds in the same grade, doing the same job, in Kansas City — between $3,000 and $15,000 a year more.

That’s important in several ways.

Pay and length of service determine the size of the lifetime annuity of federal workers. So people who spend all or most of their careers in high wage areas like Los Angeles, San Francisco-San Jose, New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia and Houston get bigger pensions than those at the same grade, salary and length of service in Butte, Montana, or Bowling Green, Kentucky, for example.

The D.C. suburbs also have some of the best public schools in the country, so for a variety of reasons a lot of feds are probably concerned that they are next on the hit-the-road list. Or are they?

Henry H., a Kansas City-based fed, said, “I lived and worked in the D.C. area for years. Then I took a job (my choice) in Kansas City.  Love it: Less traffic, nicer people, much more house for my money, less stressful working away from headquarters. I say bring them on. Don’t fight it, you will love it.”

Henry F., wrote ”Mike, while I live in D.C. now I lived in the K.C. area when in the Army. In fact when I retired we considered moving to K.C. [The] problem [was my] wife who worked as an attorney for Agriculture couldn’t find a federal job there. K.C. proper schools aren’t great but the schools in the surrounding counties are good. [A] lot to [do] there that rivals WASHINGTON. Having said that this is a bluntly political move. Congress should use a [base realignment and closure]-like process before moving forward.”

Then there’s Mark R. of Kapolei, Hawaii:

“Aloha, Mike. As a matter of fact, that’s kind of what I did a year ago. I relocated from suburban Maryland to Hawaii when my federal job gave me that opportunity. It was not a simple matter of choosing ‘paradise’ over the ‘swamp’. The relocation meant a reduction in federal base pay which implies a lower computed High-3 for the Federal Employees Retirement System retirement benefit, but living on the island of Oahu with significantly higher living costs. Yes, I do get a 10.64 untaxed COLA [cost of living adjustment] and a moderate relocation incentive for each of my first three years  here. But the net cost to be here means that my paycheck is not going as far as it did when I lived and worked in the D.C. area.

“Cost of living is one consideration, but quality of life is far, far more important and I am happy to report that I am immensely happier, safer and healthier in the outlands than I ever was in the quagmire back East. Coming here was one of the biggest decisions of my life, but it was also one of the easiest and best I have ever made.”

To compare federal pay in Kansas City versus the Washington-Baltimore area on the Office of Personnel Management’s website.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Amelia Brust

T-shirts were originally invented for bachelors who had no one (i.e. wives or mothers) to sew for them. As nearly all men’s shirts had buttons, if they lost one men who could not sew would have to use safety pins to hold the garment closed. So in 1904 the Cooper Underwear Company began selling what it called the “bachelor undershirt,” which was made of cotton stretchy enough to be pulled over the head and arms, similar to long johns which already existed. The U.S. Navy soon started issuing the shirts to sailors and their popularity exploded. Later, author F. Scott Fitzgerald was credited with first using the term T-shirt in print in “This Side of Paradise.”

Source: The New York Times

Copyright © 2024 Federal News Network. All rights reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Related Stories

    Federal News Radio pinwheel icon

    USDA, AFGE agree to terms designed to make upcoming relocation easier on employees

    Read more
    USDAJohnie Jenkins, right, is a scientist at the Agricultural Research Service.

    Relocation plans haven’t changed after IG report, USDA tells employees

    Read more