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According to President Kennedy in his pay message of April 29 of this yearthe Federal Salary Reform Act of 1962 * * declares that Federal salary rates shall be comparable to private enterprise salary rates for the same levels of work. * * *
I agree with this idea and with the President's statement that this is “the most important Federal employee pay legislation in 40 years."
Comparability is to be determined by annual surveys of private enterprise salaries by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It was upon the results of the first of these surveys that the President based his pay message of last April.
It is now up to Congress to act. We must approve legislation to raise salaries. It is first of all a matter of justice and equity that we do so. Federal employees need and deserve more money.
Secondly, we in Congress must act or we betray the principle of comparability the first time we are put to the test. We incorporated this concept in law only last October. We cannot now, in logic or conscience, ignore it.
I support H.R. 7814 because it raises salaries to a fair and reasonable level and is in accord with the idea of comparability.
I should like also to say a few words in favor of H.R. 4800 which this committee is also considering. This bill applies to the first six grades of the postal field service.
It provides for the automatic advancement to the next higher step, within grade, after a certain specific period of satisfactory service at the lower step. Last year's pay law did not adequately deal with this situation, and now is a good time to correct the shortcoming. H.R. 4800 will do precisely that.
Again let me thank the committee for the opportunity to submit this statement. May I urge a prompt and favorable report on these two important bills.
The CHAIRMAN. Our next witness will be Representative James C. Healey, of New York.
STATEMENT OF HON. JAMES C. HEALEY, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Mr. HEALEY. Mr. Chairman, thank you for giving me this opportunity to make a statement on my bill, H.R. 7659, and similar bills before your committee, referred to as the Federal Salary Adjustment Act of 1963.
I am sure that many of my colleagues in the House feel as I dothat we have a serious responsibility to consider the adjustment in the salaries of our postal and other Federal worker, as recommended by President Kennedy.
Last year the Congress approved legislation that provided pay increases for those under the Classification Act and the Postal Field Service schedules—but that bill did a little more than that. It provided for a modern way of considering pay adjustments. It required the Bureau of Labor Statistics to make an annual analysis of the comparability of Federal pay with pay in outside industry, submit its findings to the President, and the President was required by the law to make a recommendation to the Congress.
The President has made such a recommendation. I have introduced, as have other Members of Congress, legislation which would put the President's recommendations into effect. I feel we have a moral obligation to live up to the commitment carried in Public Law 87-793. It was passed by the House with only 20 opposing, and by the Senate with only 3 negative votes.
I think we should also give consideration to the fact that the figures on which the Bureau of Labor Statistics study was made were based upon a study of salaries in outside industry made in late and early 1962. The comparability that has been proposed is 2 years old. We should give some consideration to adjustment of this lag.
Some of my colleagues in the House have introduced bills that would make such an adjustment.
I want to urge your committee to act favorably at an early date in order that we might secure passage before Congress adjourns
The CHAIRMAN. We will be delighted to hear Representative Jacob H. Gilbert, of New York.
STATEMENT OF HON. JACOB H. GILBERT, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Mr. GILBERT. Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee on Post Office and Civil Service, I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak in favor of an adequate pay raise for our postal and other Federal employees.
You have heard detailed testimony by leaders of postal and Government employees' associations, showing the great need for such pay raises. I have always been alert to the problems and economic difficulties of our postal workers and classified Federal employees. They are entitled to all possible consideration and assistance. My bill is among those under consideration at this time.
It has been pointed out to you that the pay legislation passed last year was of excellent intent, but that the effect falls far short of
perfection. It is urged that your committee approve the legislation before you which would add 3 percent per year so as to achieve bona fide comparability with workers in private industry.
This proposed legislation is conservative in its aims. A 6-percent increase over 2 years is entirely reasonable, when figures show that most blue-collar workers in the United States have had their wages raised more than that during this same period.
Public Law 87–793 imposes a duty upon Congress to act toward adjusting Federal pay schedules, on a comparability basis, whenever the President, on the basis of appropriate surveys, finds that the level of Federal pay has lagged significantly behind the level of pay for comparable jobs in private industry.
President Kennedy, the Bureau of the Budget, the Civil Service Commission, have recommended and they support such a comparability pay increase at this time. Living costs continue to soar; increased taxes and increased costs of medical care, hospitalization, and other necessities, make it impossible for our postal and Federal employees to meet their obligations on present low salaries. We can only expect to have loyal, conscientious employees with a high degree
of morale in the Government departments when we recognize their difficulties and when we give them adequate pay for their efforts.
This is all they ask, and it is the duty of Congress to meet its obligation regarding the comparability pay increases now due our employees.
Å minimum 6-percent raise effective January 1 is required to give real meaning to the principle stated in the 1962 pay law.
I urge your committee to approve legislation which will fulfill our obligations as Members of Congress to our faithful postal and Federal employees. I shall continue to do all I can to secure passage of this necessary and important legislation.
The CHAIRMAN. Our next witness will be Representative John H. Dent, of Pennsylvania.
STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN H. DENT, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA
Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, I first want to extend my thanks to the committee for this opportunity to express my support for the current bills before the committee to amend the Federal Salary Reform Act of 1962. I am proud to be among the sponsors of these bills, having introduced H.R. 7682 on July 22, 1963.
The President noted in his message of April 29, 1963, transmitting the “Joint Annual Report on Federal Statutory Pay Systems that the greatest concern expressed by employee representatives was for the timelag between BLS reports and adjustment in the statutory salary rates. He said:
The spirit of the comparability principle and natural considerations of equity require that the lapse of time be held to the minimum possible * * *
Further he added: By our actions in this first year's test we can demonstrate that the Government has sincerely committeed itself to the twin proposition of fair treatment of its employees and adequate compensation for recruitment and retention purposes.
I want to take this opportunity formally to agree with those statements by the President.
At this point I think we can safely assume the validity of the propositions upon which the Federal pay raise is based. For the arguments in support of having a pay raise at all, we need only refer to the results of the so-called pay panel headed by Mr. Clarence Randall.
Federal pay reform has now reached the stage where we must consider precisely what the pay raises should be. My bill and those like it, entitled “Federal Salary Adjustment Act of 1963," seeks to further accomplish the objectives of the Federal Salary Reform Act of 1962 by refining the salary schedules to a higher degree of accuracy. By taking into account the increases that have taken place in private industry since the rates reported by BLS in 1961, the Federal Salary Adjustment Act of 1963 would make the pay schedules that are to go into effect on the 1st of January 1964 more nearly commensurate with those in private industry. Thereby we can apply the principle of comparability with greater precision.
Congress would be inexcusably inconsistent in its legislation and derelict in its duty were it to ignore the information presented in the Joint Annual Report of April 1963 by the Bureau of the Budget and the Civil Service Commission that private enterprise rates included in the 1962 BLS report average about 3 percent higher than the private enterprise rates of the 1961 BLS report and that they exceed the second schedule rates of the Salary Reform Act for grades GS-8 and above by even greater amounts.
To fail to make the salary schedule adjustments warranted by this information is to cause an avoidable delay in pay increases Federal employees have rightly coming to them under law and thus to perpetuate the very inequity that law was passed to obviate.
Further, having belatedly come to the recognition of the need for Federal salary reform, Congress would be guilty of doing its job badly as well as slowly, were it to fail to act upon the most current figures available.
It is not entirely inappropriate to recite the old adage:
I would be hard put to describe exactly wherein Congress participates in divinity, but it would seem that if the Congress is determined to grind its mills slowly, it should grind at least as fine as it is able. We have more accurate figures of comparability now than we did when the Salary Reform Act was first passed; I submit we should act on them now.
The CHAIRMAN. We will now hear from Representative John Lesinski, of Michigan. STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN LESINSKI, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MICHIGAN Mr. LESINSKI. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I appreciate having this opportunity to appear before you to respectfully request that an amendment be made to the bill under consideration to include in it the provisions of my bill, H.R. 3534, to restore the granting of step increases on the basis of performance ratings of satisfactory in lieu of the standard of acceptable level of competence.
That provision of law has had a disastrous effect on employee morale. "While on the surface it may appear to be a good standard, there are a number of drawbacks which I believe warrant its repeal.
First, the provision establishes a dual method of determining the efficiency of the Federal classified workers. The Performance Rating Act of 1950 is the statute which governs the performance of classified and other employees on the basis of “outstanding", "satisfactory”, or “unsatisfactory” ratings. I understand that some agencies have added other intermediate ratings. The Salary Reform Act established an additional criterion which employees must meet. There is needless cost involved in maintaining two systems when one should do the job.
The provision does not apply to postal employees who receive salary increases on the basis of a specified number of weeks of satisfactory service.
Just what is an acceptable level of competence? It can vary from agency to agency and from supervisor to supervisor.
There is a basic conflict between appeals available to employees under the two systems. The Performance Rating Act provides that an employee may ultimately appeal to a three-party board consisting of an agency representative, a Civil Service Commission representative, and the employee's representative. Under the Salary Reform Act an employee may appeal to only one level above his supervisor.
The agencies have considerable latitude in making such determinations as the amount of prior notice to the employee before his competence is judged unacceptable. Here again there is a great variety of interpretations and regulations among the Federal agencies.
The penalty incurred by an employee who does not meet the level of competence requirement is denial of his advancement to the next higher pay rate. Under the Performance Rating Act, an individual's step advancement can be withheld if his work is unsatisfactory. That should be sufficient without imposing an additional hazard of losing justified step increases. I believe step increases should continue to be available to individuals who complete the necessary satisfactory service, as in the case of the postal employees.
In view of the foregoing, I strongly urge the committee to adopt the language of my bill, H.R. 3534, and include it in the pay bill that will be reported.
The CHAIRMAN. Next we will hear from Representative Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr., of Massachusetts.
STATEMENT OF HON. THOMAS P. O'NEILL, JR., A REPRESENTATIVE
IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MASSACHUSETTS Mr. O'NEILL. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I am happy to add my voice to the growing chorus of our colleagues in the House favoring immediate action on salary increases for the classified and postal workers of our Federal Government.
Enactment of the Federal Salary Reform Act in 1962 marked a significant milestone in the history of the Federal pay system. It included necessary adjustments in salary rates. Of equal importance, however, were the modifications in the step increase ranges and the rules governing advancement to higher steps, grades, and levels.
The highlight of the statute was provision for an orderly, systematic method of relating the various Federal salary plans to each other and relating the entire program to wage changes for particular groups of similar occupations in private industry.
The keystone of this latter provision is the principle of comparability. Under this concept, pay of classified and postal employees will reflect more accurately and promptly the continuing wage progress experienced by private industry workers.
Many of the members of this committee have had numerous occasions in the past 20 years to hear widely divergent points of view expressed by various witnesses appearing in favor or in opposition to pending salary increase bills. Acrimonious debate has developed over the real effect of cost of living, productivity, and wage practices in the private sector on the pay of Federal workers.