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Begich Continues to Push for Fair Pay for Federal Workers

Legislation impacting Alaska, Hawaii, U.S. territories still active

Continuing the fight to ensure fair pay and retirement benefits for federal employees in Alaska, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich continues to push to bring parity between federal workers' retirement in Alaska, Hawaii, and the U.S. territories with those in the continental U.S.

Begich joined Sen. Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii in March in introducing The Non-Foreign Area Retirement Equity Assurance Act, which allows for the gradual transition to locality pay from cost of living allowance (COLA) increases. 

Hawaii, Alaska, and the territories currently receive untaxed COLA that does not count toward retirement instead of the locality pay that other federal employees receive.  As a result, many citizens of Alaska, Hawaii and the territories move back to the mainland to boost their pensions in the last three years of their employment; or receive inequitable pensions.

The issue is currently being considered as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010. Meanwhile, with the start of the new Fiscal Year on Oct. 1, federal employees in Alaska, Hawaii and the territories saw a 1 percent reduction in their federal wages. Although locality rates generally increase, the non-foreign COLA rates have been gradually declining

"We will continue to work in the Senate to educate our colleagues about the inequity that exists for federal employees' retirement in these states and territories," Begich said. "I am confident that as the Defense Authorization Act moves forward in the next couple of weeks, we will be able to make progress on this issue in one form or another.

"Alaska federal workers are understandably upset that their pensions are not reflective of their pay like the contiguous 48 states.  And with COLA declining, this issue is more important than ever for day-today and retirement purposes. Obviously our goal is to continue to be able to attract and retain highly-qualified people who will want to stay in Alaska," he added.

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