“It is up to the unions to get it across to the public that these are not just faceless bureaucrats who do nothing,” he said.
Gage said he became aware about a week ago that the pay freeze was being considered but suggested there was little he could do to convince White House officials to shelve the proposal.
“It sounded to me like a done deal,” Gage said. The union chief added that he spoke to Hoyer on Monday about the freeze.
Gage said he will become more concerned if Congress tries to reduce retirement benefits or freeze the workforce, as Boehner has suggested.
He said the Republican Leader’s proposal was “a know-nothing position” that did not take into account the increased workload of many federal workers.
Leaders of other federal unions also joined in the criticism of the proposed freeze.
“It is unfortunate that the Administration has chosen to support a policy that could diminish the government’s ability to recruit and retain top talent at the federal agencies that protect our borders, care for our veterans, and support our armed forces abroad,” said a statement from William Dougan, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, which represents more than 100,000 federal employees.
Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said her union would explore several options in response to the pay freeze, including working with Congress to reject it. Kelley said her union had already begun lobbying the relevant committees on the Hill.
The 1.4 percent increase that has been proposed for the 2011 fiscal year was reflective of average increase in wages for the private sector, she said.
Kelley added that she was not given advance notice that the administration was considering the freeze.
Union officials said it was their understanding that the freeze would only apply to cost-of-living increases and would not affect bonuses or step increases.
Congress Not Subject to Freeze
The Obama administration’s proposal would not affect Member salaries or those of their staffs.
But Congressional salaries will remain level through 2011 because Members voted to block their otherwise automatic pay raises. Obama signed that measure into law in May.
Members of Congress would have received a pay raise of less than 1 percent, or about $1,600, in 2011. Lawmakers receive an annual cost-of-living increase tied to inflation unless they vote to block the funds.
Rank-and-file House lawmakers and Senators receive a salary of $174,000. The Speaker receives $223,500, while the Majority and Minority leaders of each chamber receive $193,400.
House and Senate aides are paid from their respective Member’s office budgets, and salaries, raises and bonuses are determined by each lawmaker.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.