Pay Agent Shoots Down Large Expansion of Locality Pay

Re- posted by David Yglesias

Treasurer NBPC 2554


Pay Agent Shoots Down Large Expansion of Locality Pay

Businessman showing stop sign gesture with his hand

A number of federal employees who are expecting a slightly larger pay raise in 2017 than the overall average raise will be disappointed.

The Federal Salary Council recommended expanding existing locality pay areas to include a number of new areas. Some areas did not include any or had only one or two federal employees working under the GS pay scale.

Expanding locality pay areas is effectively a way of providing a pay raise through an administrative process. It also does not raise questions in Congress or create publicity about a pay raise.

Proposed Expansion of Locality Pay

The Salary Council referred to these areas as “proposed new areas of application….” Some of these new locations would have been included in separate locality pay areas. Others would have been added to existing locality areas. The recommendation was to implement these in 2016.

In Raising Federal Employee Pay By Expanding Locality Pay Areas, we listed new geographic areas the Salary Council was recommending adding to the locality pay system.

The Federal Salary Council consists primarily of federal union representatives. It generally recommends more inclusion in existing pay, more locality pay areas and more money for the locality pay areas. The decision to accept or reject Salary Council recommendations is up to the President’s Pay Agent.

Adding Burlington, VT and Virginia Beach, VA

The Pay Agent’s report for 2017 locality pay nixed many of the latest recommendations for expanding pay areas. The Pay Agent did decide to include Burlington, Vermont and Virginia Beach, Virginia as new locality pay areas as recommended.

These cities will not be added in 2017. The regulatory process will take awhile to complete. These two new areas will likely be included as new pay areas in 2018.

Adding Areas Adjacent to Existing Locality Pay Areas

The Salary Council wanted to ignore the number of federal employees working in an area as a way of deciding to add new areas. The Pay Agent rejected this and again concluded “…we will not adopt, as currently presented, the Council’s recommendation to eliminate the GS employment criterion.”

So, “[B]ecause the GS employment criterion will continue to apply, there is no reason to increase the commuting interchange threshold for adjacent single counties.”

What About Adding to Existing Locality Pay Areas?

The Salary Council recommended adding a number of other counties and “micropolitan” areas. That would have expanded the locality pay system while reducing the “Rest of the US” pay category. For a listing of this large number of new areas, see Raising Federal Employee Pay By Expanding Locality Pay Areas and 100+ “Rest of U.S.” Locations Recommended for Federal Locality Pay.

The Pay Agent did not go along with this large expansion of locality pay areas. Here is the conclusion of the Pay Agent in its latest report:

The Pay Agent believes any such “Rest of U.S.” locations considered for inclusion in a separate locality pay area should be evaluated consistently and in the context of the GS employment criterion not being eliminated. Individuals concerned about locations that are bordered by multiple separate locality pay areas and remain in the “Rest of U.S.” locality pay area may provide testimony to the Federal Salary Council on locations of concern.


The Federal Salary Council has been routinely recommending an expansion of the locality pay system. It is a way of raising salaries of many more federal employees. To paraphrase the omnipresent GEICO insurance ads: “That is what they do.”

The Pay Agent considers the recommendations.  It often rejects the proposal after noting its appreciation for the Salary Council’s “continuing evaluation of analytic methods used in the locality pay program…”

The Salary Council has been influential in adding new areas to the locality pay system. Burlington, VT and Virginia Beach, VA will be added in another year. Birmingham, AL and San Antonio, TX are likely to be added in one or two more years. In 2016, more than 102,000 federal employees were added. This was done by establishing new locality pay areas as a result of the Salary Council recommendations.

The federal administrative system allows continuing efforts to make incremental changes without legislative approval in many areas. In the area of federal pay, the consistent efforts by the Salary Council have paid off. Each year, they conclude there are large pay disparities harming federal employees. Each year, they recommend adding locality pay areas. Over time, they have been very successful. No doubt, many federal employees appreciate their efforts. A small raise can result in a substantial amount over time.

© 2016 Ralph R. Smith. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Ralph R. Smith.


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NBPC Statement on Nomination of General John Kelly for DHS Secretary

NBPC Statement on Nomination of General John Kelly for DHS Secretary

The National Border Patrol Council would like to thank both President-elect Trump and Vice President-elect Pence for seeking our opinion about the nomination of General Kelly as the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. We have faith in President-Elect Trump, and although General Kelly does not have immigration experience, we recognize that he comes in with stellar credentials. We caution however, that because President-elect Trump’s meteoric rise was built on border security, we believe no other cabinet level nominee will be under more pressure to produce.

The NBPC was proud to endorse President-elect Trump very early on and we stood by him through thick and thin, and we continue to do so. However, our endorsement does come with expectations. We expect the new Administration to work with the NBPC to solve the historic problems within the Agency that have created an environment that consistently ranked at the bottom of all Federal Agencies in morale, job satisfaction, and trust in leadership. The challenge of meeting our expectations and solving these problems will be placed on the shoulders of General Kelly.

General Kelly’s troops, by all accounts, loved him, which, bodes well for the morale issue within DHS, and he appears to be a no-nonsense rule of law General. Tom Ridge is the closest comparison. Secretary Ridge also had stellar credentials but due in large part to the newness of the department and it’s size and breadth of work, he wasn’t successful. Unlike Secretary Ridge; however, General Kelly will have history on his side and if he comes in with a fresh approach – the non-establishment “outside of the box thinking” approach – and if he surrounds himself with the right people, we believe President-elect Trump’s administration will allow him to be successful.

Locality Pay Letters of Support

As part of local 2554 efforts to secure an increase in our locality pay SGT at Arms Mike Matzke work on a petition package that he was able to present to the Federal Salary Council in person. At the same time President Amaya, IDO VP Friend, ELS VP Yglesias were able to meet to Congressman Vargas and Congressman Cook to secure letters of support. The letter of support were sent to the Federal Salary Council as well as each member of the President’s Pay Agent.

The combine efforts of local 2554 and the Executive Board hopefully will lead to an increase of locality pay not only for Border Patrol Agents but for all federal employees in the Imperial Valley.

Local 2554 would like to extend our gratitude to Christopher J. Harris
Director of Legislative & Political Affairs San Diego Local 1613. Director Harris in respond to Presidents Amaya request was able to facilitate the meetings with Congressman Cook and Congressman Vargas.

Congresman Cook, President Amaya, VP Friend, VP Ygleisas and Director Harris

Congresman Cook, President Amaya, VP Friend, VP Ygleisas and Director Harris. June 2016

Congressman Vargas, President Amaya, Secretary Porfirio Abaraca.

Congressman Vargas, President Amaya, Secretary Porfirio Abaraca. Long Standing Relationship with Congressman Vargas. August,  2013

Here are the letters of support from Congressman Juan Vargas 51st  District, and Congressman Paul Cook 8th District







Local Union Newsletter November 2016

Union Newsletter

November 2016

Union Election Date Changed
To November 29, 2016

In order to ensure that all union members have a chance to receive an absentee ballot and vote in the upcoming election, the Election Committee has moved the date of the election to November 29, 2016. To vote in the union election, you can either go to the Union Office located at 1415 State St. El Centro between the hours of 8am to 6pm on November 29th,or request a ballot be mailed to you at , please include the last four of your social and your current address. If you have already turned in a ballot it will be counted on November 29th. Election committee members are Johnathan Dickey (760) 879-6957, Jacob Henderson (585) 356-7983, and Jaime Pacheco (760) 554-1756.

The Agents running for E-Board are as follows.

For President:

Mike Matzke
Lombardo Amaya

for Calexico Vice President:

Guadalupe Valenzuela
Fernando Gurrola


Albert Luztber
David Yglesias

Sergeant at Arms:

Joshua Coletta
Nick Sloan
Genaro Larios

No nomination

The Offices of, Vice President EL Centro Station Anthony Maielli, and Vice President Indio Station Ray Friend, each received only one nomination and therefore the nominees were elected by acclamation.

Calexico Station Raises Money for Fallen Officers

 Police Officer Lesley Zerebny and Police Officer Gil Vega of Palm Springs Police Department were shot and killed while responding to a domestic disturbance call on October 9th 2016. BPA Henderson organized a raffle, and SBPA Nunez, SBPA Solorio, helped BPA Henderson with a cook out. Between the two events over $1,400.00 was raised for the fallen officers. On November 14th they will deliver the funds to Palm Springs Police Department.

Fallen Agent Fund to Put up Trees at Stations

 Agents involved in the Fallen Agents Fund will be putting up Christmas Trees November 18th. Last year agents collected 192 presents for 42 children. This year we have over 80 children on our list. We will be putting up the Christmas trees November 18th and collecting the presents December 9th. This year the Brush Dawgs, peer support and Border Patrol Chaplains will be helping us to deliver the presents across the southern border. We also have families in Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, and New Orleans. This provides the challenge of the cost of shipping large packages, and guaranteeing the delivery before the holiday. If agents want to help with the logistical costs they can go to and donate. We would like to thank all the agents that donated funds and Christmas presents last year, and we look forward to reminding the families of our fallen agents that they are not forgotten and they have a larger greener family now.

Packet for Location Pay Submitted

Local 2554 submitted a proposal for location pay to the Federal Salary Council on October 12, 2016.   The packet was received and included in the meeting agenda on October 28th. On October 28th BPA Matzke attended the Federal Salary Board Meeting in Washington D.C. Matzke thanked the board for their support, updated the board with the latest attrition rate numbers, and offered to answer any questions the Federal Salary Council may have. The Federal Salary Council recommended that Imperial County receive LA or Riverside Location Pay which is 27.65% compared to Rest of U.S. Pay (RUS) which is 14.35%. The next step in the process is the Presidents Pay Agent will decide to accept or reject the Federal Salary Councils recommendations. The public is not allowed at the Presidents Pay Agent meeting, so Local 2554 has taken the location pay issue as far as it can be taken this year. If the Presidents Pay Agent accepts the proposal Federal agents in Imperial County could see a raise in pay as early as 2018. If the Presidents Pay Agent denies the proposal BPA Matzke will submit a proposal every year until the Presidents Pay Agent breaks.


BPA Matzke at the Federal Salary Board in Washington D.C.

NOPA Letter from OPM by way of OPR/OIA

Agents are at risk from the next questionable practice coming from OPM and OPR/OIA:

Notice of Proposed Action (NOPA) letters and the severe effect that such proposed action may have on an Agent’s career.

The letter usually starts with:

Dear John Smith

The Office of Internal Affairs, Personnel Security Division, recently completed an investigation

Into your background to determine your suitability for continued employment with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). During the investigation, derogatory information was disclosed/developed that raised serious concern as to your suitability for employment with CBP.

This section is basically informing the recipient that there is intended action being proposed regarding that individual Agent’s career. In this case, “The Office of Internal Affairs, Personnel Security Division” is recommending that the individual Agent is not suitable for continued employment. If the Agent does not provide adequate explanation for why the Agent should continue to be employed by DHS, CBP, USBP, then it is completely conceivable that the Agent in receipt of one of these types of letters, could find him/her self out of a career without the recourse of due process. That is the most freighting prospect of these types of letters!

Local 2554, first began seeing letters of this type of letter, (Notice of Proposed Action letters), about 4 or 5 years ago. With the assistance of Union Representatives, Jose Arroyo and David Hannan, Local 2554 assisted members in receipt of such letters. Because NBPC and our Local (2554) have always believed in educating our members and invest in the training of our reps, we were prepared for these letters when they eventually surfaced in the El Centro Sector.

Once the Union Representative was assigned the tone and the urgency of the letters received by the Agent, seemed to change.

1.)         The Agent designated the Union Rep. via Form G-956.

2.)         The Rep contacted the investigator named in the letter and requested the documentation

used to arrive at the conclusion that the Agent’s career should not continue.

3.)         Once that information was completely provided, the representative could then review such information and clarify what if any information pertained was subject to consideration and or was not applicable for whatever reason.

4.)         The correct, complete and or “current” status was provided to the investigator so that the information would then become subject to consideration.

5.)         A letter was then generated by “The Office of Internal Affairs, Personnel Security Division” informing the Agent of the final disposition of his/her case.

I recall that in our sector, there were at least 12 members affected by these types of letters. All 12 cases were resolved to the benefit of our Union members.

The outcome was that all members represented in such an event, eventually received a letter that read as follows:

You were previously notified by letter or telephone of the specific conduct that raised this concern. However, mitigating information was received that lessened the severity of the conduct and/or demonstrated you have taken action to address and/or resolve this concern. You are advised that all CBP employees are expected to maintain the highest standards of integrity and professionalism.

Failure to uphold the CBP Standards of Conduct may result in referral to the Office of Human Resources Management, Labor and Employee Relations, for action (including removal), as deemed appropriate.

We have determined that you are suitable for CBP employment. This determination is contingent upon your acknowledgment and return of the enclosed Acknowledgment of Advisement Letter. Please review, sign, and return the enclosed in accordance with the instructions provided.

If you receive a letter with a Notice of Proposed Action from The Office of Internal Affairs, Personnel Security Division, or whatever the next name change results in, run don’t walk to see your local Union Representative and ask that they assist you with this matter.

By Fernando Gurrola



 An Agent has 30 days from the incident to file a grievance,

45 days from an incident to file an EEO complaint.

Never talk to OIG or IA/OPR without a lawyer or a Union Rep present.

Always put the Garrity language in your use of force memorandums.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for the Monthly Newsletter please contact Mike Matzke at the following email:




Calexico Station Vice-President

El Centro Station Vice President

Indio and Riverside Vice-President
Ray Friend
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