ETA: I finally read a good report and it seems Obama is only suggesting a pay raise freeze on cost-of-living. I am very much in agreement with this and I actually thought he froze that last year (apparently not, but the increase is so miniscule after taxes and insurance it is hardly noticed). I think this should be frozen. I was upset over merit-based raises and these (hopefully) will continue. Our salaries are public on various websites.
OK, I know I said I was going to have a theme here (i.e. stay focused), but I just can't! I have a rant.
See, I am a federal gummy mint worker and have been for several years. I work hard to keep a certain aspect of our country safe and I am dedicated to my job. We are screened and chosen by a very rigorous job application process and the competition is extreme. All of that being said, I changed positions in September (to something more secure*) and this meant leaving my two little boys and spending weekdays alone in another state. I chose to do it this way because we A.) Have a 10-acre property to sell. B.) Husband is employed in our old area and two job changes would have killed us and C.) my oldest had just started his second year of school and I did not want to disrupt his education. I should add that my in-laws live an 1/8 of mile from our house and our a huge weight off of us working parents.
When I took the job, I knew in a year-one whole year-I would be getting a 'grade' raise. This raise would allow me to move my family to my new state. The gummy mint did not pay for my move (like in years past). Meanwhile, things have been tight for years due to a my husband's decreasing salary. In fact, his paycheck is half the amount it used to be before 2008. We adjusted, but at the same time we sat on two homes that no one wanted, long commutes to our jobs (his 90 minutes one-way and mine 50). I have student loans (you know, I received an education in order to get a higher paying job).
Now, I am hearing on the radio we may be facing a salary freeze because "Civilian employees need to do their part to help end the recession". The reason I have a problem with this is that if I do not get this raise next year I will basically be doing the same (and more in some cases) work as other employees who have topped out in the grade for our position (this next raise for me would have been the top grade I could achieve in this position). I don't know if I will be able to continue to keep an apartment in one city and a home (remember houses are only selling at HUGE losses in my old area) in another (4 hours away). If my husband's income continues to decrease at the current rate, we will be in an even more tight spot.
I am a thrifty person. I keep us afloat. I give food and money to friends who have it worse than us. I open my home for those who need a bed. I teach my children that it is important to help others and be thrifty. Why is assumed Civilian guv workers are not doing their part? I have moved up to the bread winner in my family through a lot of hard work and putting myself out there to be notice; we have struggled through high gas prices, food shortages, rising insurance prices, lower salaries. I really feel like it is a punishment to civil servants. It is hard to stomach in a time of Big Corporation Breaks and little social help. Of course, I am grateful to have employment in these times. I am grateful I am still able to provide...but each year it is getting harder, not easier!
I can tell you there are lots of other ways the gummy mint could save when it comes to employment. Here is one big suggestions: let more employees telework (we pay for unneeded office space). Not only are the spaces expensive and unnecessary, but we would also save on phone service (we have both office and cell phones), electricity bills, and office furniture costs.
I pay taxes like everyone else (us 'civilians' are not exempt). I make less than someone in a similar private sector position. I really don't feel like the recession is ever going to end because a two-year salary freeze will put us even further 'snowball' behind.