Thursday, November 20, 2008

Quickie: The Overseas Pay Gap Once More

The Foreign Service Overseas Pay Gap is the topic of Joe Davidson’s column yesterday (Federal Diary, Nov. 19).

AFSA’s president John Naland is quoted in the report. Davidson writes:
“He does quarrel, however, with Coburn's (R-Oklahoma) notion that foreign service officers are seeking huge raises on top of other big benefits. It's true that diplomats get a housing allowance and, in some cases, dangerous duty or hardship duty pay. But that doesn't negate the need to close the gap, especially for lower-level diplomats. […] Senior foreign service officers get those same benefits, but their pay is not reduced by the locality amount when they go abroad. That cut applies to only the junior and mid-level diplomats."
FSO Michael Keller and his wife, Sonja are also highlighted in the report:
And foreign service officers don't have the option of staying in D.C. They spend most of their careers outside the country.
The issue is compounded when a diplomat takes his family abroad because the family often loses the spouse's income, too. Sonja Keller had a growing career as a journalist and public relations officer when Michael was sent to the Central African Republic.
"The financial impact was significant," she said.
Her income was greater than his, but the family had to give that up.
"Once I left my job, my career basically stopped," she said.
She worked in embassies where her husband was posted, but it was "generally nominal stuff," she said.

I know what she means; and that's a pretty familiar spouse story. For FS spouses, the "good" jobs are paid normally about $12-13/hour; about how much you get paid as a nanny in London. I knew somebody who was paid $20/hour once and her boss thought that was way too much money. At one post, another FS spouse, the commissary manager who took care of our tiny store had an advanced degree in dance therapy. I'm quite sure she was not an exception.
But there really are "good jobs" out there, as long as you don't complain that you, too, have brains. I knew somebody who left a 100K job in DC and eventually took a 36K job in some blissful country - with free housing, of course (some expensive free housing, huh?).

There are way too many somebodies with the same story ... And onebody says its greedy for folks to asked for the closure of this pay gap? Go tickle yourself silly!

Update: Read here for Digger's (Life After Jerusalem) take on how much harder it is for Members of Household on the career/employment front.

Related Post:
The Overseas Pay Gap – Not Quite on Life-Support But …


Digger said...

I have linked to and quoted you here:

DS said...

Thanks for the link, Digger. I have added an update in my original post linking back to you so folks would have an idea that this is an issue not just for spouses but an even harder road for partners.

Kenny and Linsey said...

With all of the insane regulations and red tape that governs the lives of foreign service officers you would think this would be a no-brainer. There is plenty of money there to equalize pay and give partner benefits with some really easy restructuring. So many places at State just suck money with no results. This is a source of endless frustration for us.

DS said...

Thanks Kenny and Linsey!

I'm waiting for the day when State would actually start looking at what things are possible, instead of saying which things are not possible. May be a long wait though... Thanks for visiting.

TSB said...

I've linked to you here: