Congressman Smith, author of the Joint Base Pay Parity Act, has repeatedly urged OPM to issue the regulations
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Office of Personnel Management will announce on Wednesday that the agency is proposing placing all Federal Wage System (FWS) employees at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst into a single wage schedule. If implemented, the proposed rule will increase pay for roughly 600 employees located on the former McGuire Air Force Base and Fort Dix by considering them within the same locality pay area as their Navy Lakehurst counterparts.
“Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst is one installation and the men and women who work there are part of one workforce,”said Smith, who represents half of the Joint Base and has authored the Joint Base Pay Parity Act. “While long overdue, OPM’s move to fix this outdated policy—which pays some workers at a lower rate for the same jobs performed across the base—is a welcomed step and should be implemented expeditiously.”
The regulations follow an October 15, 2015 recommendation by the Federal Prevailing Rate Advisory Committee (FPRAC) to make this change. After six months of inaction on OPM’s part, Smith again urged the Acting Director Beth F. Cobert to accept FRAC’s recommendations and issue final regulations that correct this outdated policy in an April 2016 letter.
“Joint basing has been successfully implemented at McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst but there remains an outstanding issue of gross unfairness for some employees,” Smith said. “Once this regulation is adopted, roughly 600 civilians on JB MDL will finally receive equally earned pay.”
The 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) created 12 joint bases, including what is now Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. After the Joint Base was formally established in 2009, Smith and the New Jersey Delegation lobbied OPM to move the McGuire AFB and Fort Dix employees into the New York region to establish parity on the installation. OPM responded by designating the General Schedule employees for better locality pay but this regulation did not include the wage grade employees.
“The Joint Base’s missions are vital to our national security and could not be carried out effectively without the skills of the men and women stationed there, and those working in civilian support roles across the base,” said Smith.
JB-MDL is the largest employer in the region, second only to the State of New Jersey as the largest employer in the Garden State, and contributes $6.9 billion annually to the regional economy.