Amid a shutdown, Trump freezes pay for federal workers in 2019

800,000 federal workers are currently on no-pay status due to the government shutdown.
800,000 federal workers are currently on no-pay status due to the government shutdown.
Image: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
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There will be no raises for government employees next year, Donald Trump has declared.

The US president signed an executive order on Friday (Dec. 28), a week into a government shutdown, that freezes pay for 2.1 million federal civilian workers in 2019. The Office of Personnel Management issued “salary tables” the same day that show “rates frozen at 2018 levels.”

It’s not a surprise. Trump has been advocating a federal pay freeze since February, and long proposed shrinking the federal government, the US’s largest employer. On his very first day in office, Trump signed a federal hiring freeze, and in August he said he would block an expected 2.1% pay raise for federal workers.

But the freeze comes as roughly 800,000 federal workers are furloughed or working without pay due to the government shutdown, making the action particularly cruel, workers’ advocates say.

“This is just pouring salt into the wound,” Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union which represents about 100,000 federal workers, said in a statement. “It is shocking that federal employees are taking yet another financial hit. As if missed paychecks and working without pay were not enough, now they have been told that they don’t even deserve a modest pay increase.”

Trump’s executive order overrides an automatic-raise law. The White House press office distributed it by email on Dec. 28, but is not yet posted to the White House website.

The House of Representatives passed legislation this summer that did not mention a pay rise rate at all, and the Senate passed another bill proposing a 1.9% raise, but no figure was agreed upon by both houses. Trump’s pay freeze could still be blocked by Congress, the NTEA notes.

Trump’s order applies to civilian workers; military workers will receive a 2.6% raise next year, the Department of Defense budget shows.