by Ashton Goodell
Channel 2 News
5:28 PM AKST, November 29, 2010
President Barack Obama called for a two-year wage freeze for federal employees Monday.
The federal government pays over a billion dollars annually to Alaskan workers. It's no surprise considering the large military presence and the amount of land the government owns in the state.
“I think anything that happens in federal government in Alaska, we'll be watching closely. This might be one of the first examples of what we'll be looking at in the next three to four years,” said labor economist Neil Fried.
Fried says the economy isn't likely to be hurt by a wage freeze, but that it will feel significant to 17,000 Alaskan workers who won't get a bump in pay.
Obama says it's time the government tighten its belt like American families have had to.
“Getting this deficit under control is going to require some broad sacrifice and that sacrifice must be shared by the employees of the federal government,” he said.
If Congress approves the measure, it would save the country $60 billion over the next 10 years. The president of the federal workers union in Alaska says the freeze would hardly put a dent in the nation's $14 trillion debt.
“That's a big chunk of change that Alaska is going to lose. People say everyone has to take a cut; Well we are willing to work with it but I don't think a 1.5 pay raise is unreasonable,” David Owens, of AFGE Local 1101, said.
Owens questions whether employees will retire earlier or get fed up and start looking for jobs elsewhere.
“It's a political move, period. And I find it a bit insulting, to tell you the truth,” he said.
If Congress approves the move before the end of the year, the freeze would take effect Jan. 1.
Those in the military, members of Congress and their staffs, postal workers and federal court judges and workers will not be affected by the freeze.
Contact Ashton Goodell at firstname.lastname@example.org
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