Today, Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski (PA-11) announced that the Administration made a major decision toward changing the wages of a significant portion of the Tobyhanna Army Depot workforce to ensure that federal employees receive the fair and equal pay that they deserve. As a result, over 2,000 federal employees at the Tobyhanna Army Depot will receive pay increases. For years certain types of federal employees have received different wages from other federal employees even though they work the same hours at the same facilities. Congressman Kanjorski actively sought support from President Obama to ensure that this pay disparity was fixed. Because pay scales are different for the two classifications of workers at the Depot, the absurd result has been workers working side by side, doing similar jobs, but getting different sized paychecks.
"Keith Hill and his fellow leaders of the AFGE union brought this issue to my attention years ago and we have been working to fix this ridiculous situation ever since," said Congressman Kanjorski. "The Bush Administration never paid attention to this problem, but the Obama Administration is fixing it.
Congressman Kanjorski today toured the Tobyhanna Army Depot with the U.S. Army Under Secretary Dr. Joseph Westphal, the second in command at the U.S. Army, to highlight the importance of Northeastern Pennsylvania's largest employer. They also toured the levees in Wilkes-Barre, which was a project that they worked closely on together to make a reality.
Congressman Kanjorski added, "As the two wars wind down, it is more important than ever to secure the core mission of our region's largest employer. I am pleased that the second most powerful person in the Army took the time to visit Tobyhanna Army Depot."
"We greatly appreciate Congressman Kanjorski's help in ensuring that the union employees at Tobyhanna Army Depot receive the same wages that the rest of the employees at the Depot receive," said Keith Hill, AFGE National Vice President, District 3. "The Congressman deeply understood our concerns about the pay disparity and worked to make sure that it was fixed so that all employees at the Depot receive fair and equal wages. He continues to show day in and day out that he is not just about talk, but about action."
Wages for most federal employees are based on the wages in the private sector in that area. There have been two different methods for determining federal wages, which caused particular consternation at the Tobyhanna Army Depot, as some federal employees were paid less for doing the same work as others just because their pay scale was different. In particular, most union and trade employees have been placed on a smaller pay scale than most professional, technical, and administrative employees, even though they work the same hours at the same facility.
On September 15, 2010, Congressman Kanjorski wrote a letter which was signed by ten other Members of Congress, urging Sheldon Friedman, Chairman of the Federal Prevailing Rate Advisory Committee (FPRAC) to vote on a proposal to address the unfair pay disparity for federal employees working in the same geographic area. The FPRAC advises the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) about matters concerning the pay of federal employees. OPM defines how the pay scales are determined.
Yesterday, the FPRAC approved the proposal that OPM establish fair and equal pay scales for all federal employees working in the same geographic area, just as Congressman Kanjorski had urged the Committee's chairman. Congressman Kanjorski spoke with the director of OPM who is in support of the recommendation. The director will issue regulations on this matter to implement the proposal in the near future.