Menendez Leads NJ Delegation Call to Fix Pay Disparity for Joint Base Work Force

Menendez Leads NJ Delegation Call to Fix Pay Disparity for Joint Base Work Force


WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez led New Jersey’s full Congressional delegation in calling on the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to correct a long-running pay disparity among civilian employees at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JBMDL) by implementing the Federal Prevailing Rate Advisory Committee’s (FPRAC) recommendation to move affected workers from the Philadelphia wage area to the higher wage New York area, ensuring commensurate wages. This would amount to a pay increase for hundreds of JBMDL employees. 

In a letter to OPM Acting Director Beth Cobert, the delegation wrote:  “…employees at JBMDL have waited too long for this disparity to be resolved.  While the [Federal Wage System] FWS workforce waits for pay parity, they must perform their duties knowing that their coworkers are doing the same job on the Lakehurst portion of the base at higher wages.  Additionally, JBMDL leadership has stated this disparity impacts mission readiness because they do not have the flexibility to assign FWS workers from one area of the base to another side of the base because of the wage disparity.”

The current pay gap has been in place since operations at McGuire Air Force Base, Fort Dix and Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst were consolidated in 2009.  On October 15, FPRAC recommended that OPM fix the pay disparity issue affecting approximately 600 civilian Joint Base workers who fall under the Federal Wage System. The recommendation is before the Director of OPM for consideration of its implementation.

FWS workers at McGuire and Fort Dix are paid at the lower Philadelphia wage rate while Lakehurst employees are paid at the higher New York wage rate. FWS was established to ensure that the salaries of Federal blue collar workers are comparable to prevailing private sector rates in local wage jurisdictions.  FPRAC considers issues regarding prevailing rate determinations for FWS workers and provides recommendations to the Director of OPM.

The full letter follows:

October 23, 2015

Beth F. Cobert
Acting Director
U.S. Office of Personnel Management
1900 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20415

Dear Acting Director Cobert:

Since 2009, the New Jersey Congressional Delegation has urged the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to correct a Federal Wage System (FWS) pay disparity for employees at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JBMDL). The Federal Prevailing Rate Advisory Committee (FPRAC) recommended in 2010 and reaffirmed its recommendation in 2012 to consolidate FWS wage areas, or portion of FWS wage areas, that lie within non-RUS General Schedule locality pay areas. We appreciate FPRAC’s thoughtful and deliberative consideration to this important issue over the years. Last week, FPRAC passed the “Proposal to Move a Portion of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst from the Philadelphia Wage Area to the New York”, NY Wage Area, 599-ACT1. We are writing to offer our strong support for OPM to implement this recommendation from FPRAC.

As you are aware, the 2005 Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission recommended the consolidation of McGuire Air Force Base, the Army’s Fort Dix and Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst into JBMDL. The merger creates the nation’s only tri-service base and is home to 80 mission partners and 40 mission commanders. These mission partners represent all five service branches of the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. Covering 42,037 contiguous acres, JBMDL runs more than 20 miles east to west and is located within two of New Jersey’s largest counties, Ocean and Burlington. JBMDL employs more than 40,000 military and civilian employees and is the second largest employer in New Jersey.

The consolidation required the broad efforts of numerous individuals and mission partners to realize closer inter-service collaboration in order to create a truly integrated installation. One area that remains a critical issue for the ongoing success and collaboration of JBMDL is pay parity for FWS employees working at the joint base. Before the consolidation of the three bases, FWS employees at McGuire and Ft. Dix were paid at the Philadelphia wage rate, while Lakehurst employees were paid at the New York City wage rate. After the consolidation of JBMDL, this discrepancy remained.

FWS employees at JBMDL have waited too long for this disparity to be resolved. While the FWS workforce waits for pay parity, they must perform their duties knowing that their coworkers are doing the same job on the Lakehurst portion of the base at higher wages. Additionally, JBMDL leadership has stated this disparity impacts mission readiness because they do not have the flexibility to assign FWS workers from one area of the base to another side of the base because of the wage disparity.

The leadership of JBMDL has worked diligently in exemplifying the mission of joint basing and has supported pay parity for our civilian workforce since it was first consolidated. By passing proposal “599-ACT1”, FPRAC has recognized that the importance of rectifying the FWS wage disparity at JBMDL. The New Jersey Congressional Delegation has been unwavering in its support for fixing the wage disparity and we strongly support the recommendation to move a portion of JBMDL from the Philadelphia Wage Area to the New York Wage Area.

We thank you for your earnest consideration to this recommendation and urge a favorable decision on its implementation.

Sincerely,

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