By Jason Allentoff
With Election Day just five weeks away, one Shore-area Congressman is urging the President to correct an on-going pay disparity at the Joint Base.
Third District Republican Representative Jon Runyan has been working to try and fix the problem ever since he started his term. Because McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst spans two counties, the pay rate is different for people who work in Ocean County and Burlington County.
For example, if you work at Navy Lakehurst, you'll make more money than you would if you worked at Fort Dix in Wrightstown. Runyan says the issue goes back to 2005.
Runyan explains, "It was basically a huge oversight when the Base Realignment and Closure Commission, or BRAC, combined the installations. It took the New York pay scale for Ocean County and the Philadelphia pay scale for Burlington. This needs to change and soon."
In a letter sent to President Barack Obama, Runyan outlined the extent of the disparity and the work he's done as a Member of Congress to draw attention to the issue. The President oversees the Office of Personnel Management, or OPM, and he can direct them to correct the issue. Runyan says it comes down to basic fairness.
"Changing this would ensure that the men and women of the megabase are paid fairly for the work they do. OPM has the authority to do this but after I contacted them on several occasions, nothing has been done."
Runyan introduced legislation to correct the disparity, H.R. 1688, the BRAC Wage Locality Pay Parity Act of 2011. He also successfully included report language in the FY2012 National Defense Authorization Act requesting that OPM coordinate with the Defense Department to make sure Defense Department employees at the Joint Base are all paid at the New York City pay rate. This legislation was signed into law by President Obama on December 31, 2011.
Located in New Jersey's 3rd Congressional District, Joint Base McGuire-Dix -Lakehurst is the only installation of its kind, which contains the Army, the Air Force and the Navy.
The Joint Base employs over 40,000 men and women and is the second largest employer in the state of New Jersey.