NTEU’s Checklist to Make Federal Jobs More Attractive

Press Release May 22, 2024

WASHINGTON – Federal agencies would be better equipped to compete for workers with improvements to pay, benefits, flexibility, protections and hiring, according to testimony submitted to Congress today by NTEU National President Doreen Greenwald.

“It is essential for the federal government to recruit and retain the best and brightest to provide quality services to the American people,” Greenwald wrote to the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability for its hearing on the Office of Personnel Management.

In the testimony, NTEU called for a series of changes to help attract highly skilled new hires and keep experienced veterans from leaving for the private sector. They include:

·       An average 2025 pay raise of 7.4 percent

·       More and better data on the effectiveness of telework

·       Paid family leave

·       Maintain guardrails to protect merit system principles

·       Investments in agency human resource offices to improve hiring process

Federal employees last year earned 27.54 percent less than private sector workers in similar jobs, according to the Federal Salary Council.

“While many federal employees believe in government service and agency mission is often listed as the number one reason they work for the federal government, massive pay disparities with the private sector undermine efforts to recruit and retain skilled individuals who are drawn to public service,” Greenwald wrote. “Competitive pay helps ensure a professional, skilled workforce is on board administering our nation’s laws and programs and providing critical services for our nation and the American people.”

On telework, Greenwald gave specific examples of how telework-eligible vacancies attract more applicants, and robust telework policies help agencies save money on real estate. NTEU opposes arbitrary one-size-fits-all limits on telework, and urged OPM to collect data on telework’s effectiveness, develop best practices and assist management with training on supervision of teleworkers.

“Such initiatives are essential to well working telework programs and NTEU fully supports methodical and thoughtful data collection and program review,” Greenwald wrote.

NTEU also continues to fight for a Paid Family Leave program for federal employees to receive up to 12 weeks of paid leave for any event that qualifies for unpaid Family and Medical Leave.

“Few employees can go weeks without pay, and no one should be forced to choose between caring for a loved one and a paycheck,” Greenwald said.

Through its Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment, the Biden administration has encouraged collective bargaining in the federal sector and improved communication between frontline federal employees and agency leadership.

“NTEU’s experience has proven that the pre-decisional input inherent in conversations between labor and management is a productive means to give employees a say in agency decisions, solve problems in a non-adversarial way, address workplace issues that hinder efficiency, and improve services to the American people,” the testimony states.

Finally, NTEU urged OPM and Congress to invest in agency human resource offices in order to speed up the hiring process, and require that part of supervisors’ performance evaluations be based on personnel management. Greenwald also cautioned against the overuse of hiring flexibilities that expand positions outside of the competitive service.

“Sweeping exemptions to hiring rules and regulations are extremely concerning as it could undermine the very principles that ensures that the civil service is non-partisan, based on merit, and reflects the citizenry it serves,” she wrote.

NTEU represents employees in 35 federal agencies and offices.