Just in time for Labor Day, President Trump announced Thursday that he is canceling pay raises for civilian federal employees that were scheduled to take effect in January. By Friday he said he’d study it over the weekend.
If, after study, he goes ahead with his original pronouncement, more than 11,000 Nevadans won’t receive the automatic 2.1 percent pay increase. According to the Labor Department, of the 19,115 federal employees in Nevada in 2017, 11,479 are civilian employees — working in everything from Immigration, Customs and Enforcement (ICE) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
The Department of Veterans Affairs has the highest number of federal workers in Nevada, with 4,712 employees in 2017.
The Department of the Interior, which includes the BLM, has the second most with 2,004 workers.
Although federal military employees are exempt from the pay freeze, there are still civilian employees within the Army, Air Force and Navy, covering a variety of occupations from accountants and nurses to food service workers and foreign language teachers, according to the Department of Defense.
In Nevada, there are 1,450 civilians working with the Air Force, 438 with the Army and 290 with the Navy.
The Department of Agriculture employs 477 Nevadans, the Department of Transportation employs 345, the Department of Homeland Security employs 336, and 240 Nevadans work for the Department of Commerce.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development has fewest number of federal workers in Nevada, with only 18 employees, according to the Labor Department.
In order to address the “nation’s fiscal situation,” increasing pay for these workers will be canceled, Trump said Thursday.
In a letter to congressional leaders, Trump wrote: “We must maintain efforts to put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and Federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases.”
“In light of our Nation’s fiscal situation, Federal employee pay must be performance-based, and aligned strategically toward recruiting, retaining, and rewarding high-performing Federal employees and those with critical skill sets,” he added.
Ryan King, the communications director for Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), said the senator stands with federal employees in Nevada.
“Sen. Cortez Masto believes that the federal government’s budget should not be balanced on the backs of civil servants who work hard every day on behalf of their communities,” he said.
The American Federation of Government Employees also blasted Trump’s decision. The organization represents 700,000 federal employees and has 40,000 dues-paying members in district 12 — Nevada, Hawaii, California and Arizona. AFGE Local 1224, the local affiliate, represents 3,100 Veterans Affairs employees in Las Vegas.
“President Trump’s plan to freeze wages for these patriotic workers next year ignores the fact that they are worse off today financially than they were at the start of the decade,” AFGE president J. David Cox said in a statement. “Federal employees have had their pay and benefits cut by over $200 billion since 2011, and they are earning nearly 5 percent less today than they did at the start of the decade.”
Congressional District 4 candidate Steven Horsford, who was endorsed by AFGE prior to winning his Democratic primary this year, unloaded on Trump’s decision to withhold pay raised from federal workers.
“After adding nearly $2 trillion to the deficit, Trump wants working people to pay for the GOP Tax Cuts by freezing their wages,” Horsford tweeted Thursday when Trump announced the wage freeze.
Earlier this year, Trump signed three executive orders that would have made it easier to fire federal workers. It was challenged by the AFGE.
A federal judge struck down key parts of the order Aug. 25. “Did somebody say retaliation?” Linda Smith, the president of AFGE Local 1224, tweeted out Aug. 30 in response to the pay raise freeze.