Especially for public servants who work in the federal government.

Catch-up Is Much More Than a Condiment

Have you ever given much thought to ketchup? It may seem like an odd question, but bear with me for a minute.

Ketchup is a wonderful condiment. You see it everywhere. You can use it on a hot dog, hamburger, French fries — or even in the case of President Richard Nixon — cottage cheese. Ketchup is ubiquitous. You might not even notice it’s gone until you reach for the empty bottle.

Federal workers are as essential to making our country run as ketchup is essential to enjoying a ballgame or a Fourth of July barbecue. Neither are the first thing that comes to mind when you think about eating or working, but you’d sure miss them if they were gone.

A shortage of either would change our way of life. Unfortunately, while ketchup is still plentiful — despite attempts to jazz it up it in the past — federal employees are left scraping the bottom of the bottle.

Six years ago, the government initiated what was originally intended to be a two-year pay freeze. That freeze was extended by one more year, and was followed by two years of meager 1 percent across-the-board increases, and one year of a 1.3 percent increase — none of which, alone or together kept pace with inflation. Now, six years after that “sacrifice” began, civil servants are still suffering.

In 2016, locality increases only provided a scant 0.3 percent raise for these working people, while inflation climbed 1 percent.

Thanks to years of those pay freezes, retirement cuts, and furloughs, federal workers are earning 6.5 percent less today than they did at the start of the decade. When adjusted for inflation, that’s $91,000 in lost wages per employee since 2010! These cuts represent more than just a line item on a budget, but a family that cannot afford to send their child to college, or make their mortgage payment.

Federal employees are normal Americans like us who every day do the work that keeps our nation healthy, prosperous, and strong. They are the TSA Officers moving air travelers safely to see their families, the doctors and nurses caring for our veterans, the correctional workers keeping criminals off our streets, the agents protecting our borders, and everyone in between.

These hardworking public servants deserve to catch up. The stock market is up 82 percent, and inflation has risen 10.5 percent, but federal working people’s wages have stagnated. Many struggle to keep food on the table, pay their bills, and live comfortably because every day they’ve worked in the last six years, they’ve earned less than the day before.

Earlier this year Rep. Gerald Connolly, Va., introduced a bill in Congress — the Federal Adjustment of Income Rates Act — that calls for 5.3 percent catch-up pay in 2017.

It has garnered some support on Capitol Hill, but not enough to make it law — yet. Federal employees have sacrificed their wages most of this decade to help pull America out of recession and into prosperity, and we need to pay them back. We need more of our elected officials to stand up and do the right thing for these families.

And it can happen with your help. Sure, a catch up adjustment won’t fix everything, but after losing out on the $182 billion Congress has cut in pay and benefits since 2010, it’s a start.

You wouldn’t want to cook your burgers, or order French fries if you couldn’t have ketchup. We can’t keep our democracy running if we don’t have people to make sure the day-to-day work gets done. A 5.3 percent catch-up provision for our federal workforce isn’t just a garnish, it’s what’s owed.

Don’t let Congress continue to cut civil servants pay. Urge your Senator and Representative to vote for a 5.3% catch-up pay adjustment for federal workers. The working people who keep this country running have done their share, and so should we.

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