Location Pay Update
The Local 2554 is currently working on obtaining location pay for Imperial County. Below you can keep up to date with were the Union is at in the process.
Minutes of the Federal Salary Council 4/10/2018 meeting
Imperial County, CA
Mr. Mike Matzke, President, AFGE National Border Patrol Council Local 2554, spoke on behalf of Federal employees in Imperial County, CA. Mr. Matzke’s testimony accompanied a detailed, written proposal to include that county in the Los Angeles locality pay area as an area of application. That written proposal is Council Document FSC 18-01-06.
Mr. Matzke began by thanking the Council for supporting Imperial County in the past and for its continued support. (Along with making other changes to criteria for areas of application, the previous Council recommended new criteria for single-county locations adjacent to multiple locality pay areas. See the Council’s December 2016 recommendations posted at https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/pay-systems/general-schedule/federal-salary-council/recommendation16.pdf, specifically the section on pages 7-8 entitled “Evaluating Single-County Locations Adjacent to Multiple Locality Pay Areas.” Under those criteria, which were not approved by the Pay Agent, Imperial County would have qualified for inclusion in the Los Angeles locality pay area based on (1) the sum of its employment interchange rates with the Los Angeles and San Diego locality pay areas being greater than 7.5 percent and (2) having a higher employment interchange rate with the Los Angeles locality pay area than with the San Diego locality pay area.)
Mr. Matzke said Imperial County is the only county in southern California that does not receive locality pay above that for the “Rest of U.S.” He pointed out that the Pay Agent had tentatively agreed with the Federal Salary Council that San Luis Obispo County, CA, should receive Los Angeles locality pay because San Luis Obispo County is almost completely surrounded by higher paying locality pay areas. He said Imperial County is also essentially a completely surrounded county in California, but whereas San Luis Obispo has the Pacific Ocean to its west, “Imperial County has something worse to its east: a State with a lower cost of living. ” He added, “Because of that, the two largest Federal agencies in Imperial County are hemorrhaging agents and there is no end in sight. If you are a Federal employee in Imperial County, you can get a job in a higher locality pay area like San Diego or Los Angeles, or move to a lower cost of living county like Yuma or La Paz, Arizona. There is absolutely no reason to stay in Imperial County, CA, and it shows in our attrition rate.” Mr. Matzke noted that these disparities were occupation-specific, primarily involving Federal law enforcement positions; in so noting, he quipped that “where I work, you’re either a farmer or you’re law enforcement.”
Continuing, Mr. Matzke said, “If you also consider the high levels of pollution, unemployment, and heat in the summer time this exacerbates our problems. We are currently down 338 agents in the El Centro Sector and we are down 80 officers on the Customs side. Recently the Calexico Station offered a $12,500 bonus to fill 59 openings, but only 12 were filled. El Centro Sector currently has one station in Riverside County, and that station has roughly half the attrition rate as the stations in Imperial County. While we don’t believe that by making us part of the Los Angeles locality pay area this Council will solve all our problems, we are asking to be added to the Los Angeles locality pay area in the hopes that it will cut our future attrition rates in half and encourage more Federal employees to stay in Imperial County. Thank you for your time and commitment to the pay equity of Federal employees.”
Chairman Sanders thanked Mr. Matzke and said he would take a closer look back at the previous Council’s recommendation regarding single-county locations adjacent to multiple locality pay areas and that he was interested in understanding the idea of summing employment interchange rates.
Mr. Cox commented, “I think we have made recommendations along those lines in the past but have not been successful with the President’s Pay Agent in that regard. But staffing is difficult in the area.”
Mr. Matzke said the key takeaway is that Imperial County is losing personnel to areas that have higher locality pay or lower living costs. He thanked the Council again for hearing his testimony.
Hearing no further comments regarding the testimony on Imperial County, Chairman Sanders invited the next speaker to begin.