Bill would give U.S. workers in area a raise 8% for high cost of living suggested by Mikulski


Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., told Social Security Administration employees in Woodlawn yesterday that they would get an 8 percent raise under legislation she introduced to give 130,000 federal workers in the Baltimore-Washington area a cost-of-living differential.

The senator said she also had filed a bill to pay more than 10,000 federal employees who served in the active armed forces during the Persian Gulf crisis the difference between their military reserve salary and their regular federal pay.

"When they come home, they should get more than a parade but what they are due -- a full paycheck," she said during a visit to SSA and the Health Care Financing Administration, neighboring agencies where about 17,000 federal employees work.

"The federal government should be a leader in this effort -- a model employer" in giving compensation to reservists so they do not suffer financially from their military service, she said.

While the reservist pay bill seems destined for fast-track approval, Ms. Mikulski said the 8 percent locality pay raise would take at least a year to implement.

The president already has granted special locality pay raises, created in last year's federal employee pay law, to some 78,000 workers in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The differentials are based on the higher costs of living and the higher rate of pay for private-sector workers in those areas. In the Baltimore-Washington area, costs of living are between 7.5 percent and 9 percent higher than the national average, Ms. Mikulski said, and the federal-private employer pay gap is almost 20 percent.

The federal pay law sets a goal of adjusting pay scales in higher-cost areas over the next nine years.

Senator Mikulski said that her bill would expedite the change and that she would be building coalitions with other congressmen to aid their federal employee constituents as well.

She could give no estimate of the cost of the proposed locality increases above standard federal pay scales.

The permanent differentials would be in addition to the annual raises authorized by the federal pay board, which amount to 4.1 percent this year.

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