Veto of a Pay Bill for Federal Blue-collar Employees
To the House of Representatives:
I am returning, without my approval, H.R. 17809, a bill which would fix in law the pay practices applied to Federal "blue collar" employees.
A uniform government-wide wage system for these employees already exists. The Coordinated Federal Wage System which is now ill effect is flexible and can respond to changing labor market conditions. The responsiveness of the present method has been demonstrated recently as it provided average wage increases of 9.5 percent during Fiscal Year 1969 and 8.1 percent in Fiscal Year 1970.
H.R. 17809 would also have adverse economic implications. At a time when the Administration is most concerned about inflationary wage settlements in the private sector, this bill would mean that many Federal Employees in a given locality would be paid at much higher rates than those prevailing in the private sector of the same locality. Under the present system, most Federal blue collar workers are already paid four percent more than prevailing rates. This bill would mean that about two-thirds of these workers would be paid at rates eight percent above prevailing rates.
The costly and unwarranted pay features of H.R. 17809 would add still further to a $4 billion blue collar Federal payroll. Since the majority of the employees covered by the proposed bill are employed by the Department of Defense, the only way in which the substantial added costs of the enrolled bill could be met would be through further reductions in employment levels. The Department of Defense has been undergoing substantial employee reductions in the past two years and further reductions would not be acceptable at this time.
Finally, it should be noted that when the wages of Federal employees go up, even greater pressures are placed on private employers to raise their own wages-and thus the fires of inflation are fueled.
In order to keep the administrative wage structure flexible, to fight inflation, and to maintain sufficient employment levels, I must disapprove this bill.
The White House
January 1, 1971
Note: The veto message was dated January 1, 1971, and released January 2.
The House of Representatives referred the veto message to committee, and no further action was taken.
APP Note: In the Public Papers of the Presidents series, this document is dated January 2, 1971, the date it was released. The American Presidency Project dates this document as January 1, 1971, the date the bill was vetoed.
Richard Nixon, Veto of a Pay Bill for Federal Blue-collar Employees Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/241076