Shutdown, pay raise on hold: What now?

This time last week some long-time observers of the federal scene were predicting smooth sailing for a late-blooming 1.9 percent January pay raise for most white collar feds in 2019. And it wasn’t a question of if it would be OK’d, more like when.

The Senate voted in favor of the raise which, in locality pay areas like San Francisco-San Jose, Los Angeles, New York and Washington-Baltimore, would likely mean total pay raises of 2.1 to 2.3 percent.  However,  the House-Senate conference committee considering the raise among other appropriations won’t resume work until the House (now in recess) returns Nov. 13.

This time last week many federal agencies were going through the now familiar lifeboat drill as to how to handle a possible Oct. 1 shutdown. Had it taken place many workers would have come in Monday only to be told to shut down, go home and await further instructions.

The new potential shutdown date is Dec. 7, which is also coincidentally the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the U.S. into World War II.

Folks who follow the giant federal employee health benefits program (FEHBP) got a pleasant surprise when the 2019 premiums were announced by the Office of Personnel Management. Some experts expected an average hike of 5 percent to 7 percent. Instead the confusing “average” (based on changes in the largest plans) was about 1.5 percent .

Subscribers to some plans will actually see their premiums go down a little next year. The government will continue to pay an average of 70 percent of the total premium for non-postal workers and all retirees.  Even more for postal workers.

Meantime, the Trump administration is appealing a court ruling that blocked most of its plans to reduce the amount of paid “official time” union officers can spend on health, safety and other contract issues. It was also in the process of evicting some union officers from government-owned office space in their agencies.

So what’s next?  That’s what we will talk about this week on our Your Turn radio show.

Federal News Radio reporter Nicole Ogrysko will bring us up to speed on what has to happen to clear the pay raise and prevent a shutdown.

She’ll also talk about the latest in the battle between unions and the Trump administration.  Executive Editor Jason Miller will also join to show to discuss Trump administration plans to “reskill” and “upskill” what it sees as an aging, tech-challenged workforce and what it might mean for you, your job and your boss.

Officials are concerned about government demographics: 45 percent of the workforce is age 50 or older and 25 percent will never see 55 again.  Only 6 percent of feds are under age 30.

The show starts tomorrow at 10 a.m. EDT.  You can also listen online or on WFED 1500 AM in the Washington D.C. area.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Steff Thomas

As of 2013, only seven people live in what is considered the ghost-town of Centralia, Pennsylvania. It’s population has dwindled since 1980 due to the result of a coal mine fire that has been perpetually burning since 1962.

Source: Wikipedia