DoD Unions Detail Positive Personnel Changes
June 15, 2005
Citing the creation of a new civilian personnel policy for Department of Defense workers as an opportunity for substantial positive change -- or an opportunity for failure -- the United DoD Workers Coalition has released a paper entitled "Contrasting Plans for DoD: Labor's Proposals for Positive Change versus Management's Unlawful Return to the 19th Century."
In a letter to Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England, the Pentagon's point person on the personnel policy reform issue, the coalition stressed their willingness to work collaborative with DoD to create a new system, but added that employees and their union representatives will never stand by while management attempts to strip workers of their rights to collective bargaining and fair due process.
Labor representatives met with management for over a month this spring and presented numerous concerns with DoD's proposals for the so-called National Security Personnel System (NSPS), as well as suggestions for improvements. Despite strenuous attempts by labor to work collaboratively with management in the development of a new personnel system, DoD officials repeatedly made it clear they were not interested in anything but their own ideologically-driven plan and they would not comply with Congress's directive to work collaboratively with unions.
The NSPS proposed by DoD and OPM seeks to wipe out important employee rights and safeguards such as collective bargaining, a fair and unbiased appeals process, and due process when charged with adverse actions. DoD is seeking to take these actions -- hiding behind the smokescreen of "national security" -- despite Congress requiring the protection of such rights when it authorized the creation of a new system.
Public comments about the DoD's proposed plan, collected earlier in the spring of 2005, also showed serious concerns with their proposals as an overwhelming number of the nearly 60,000 comments were critical of DoD's intentions.
In its letter to Secretary England , the DoD Workers Coalition pointed out that forcing an unfair personnel system on employees will create anger and turmoil in the workplace, ultimately harming the mission of the Department of Defense by hurting worker morale. DoD workers, many of them veterans themselves, have repeatedly gone above and beyond over the years to support the men and women of our military and do not deserve to be treated in such a dismissive and capricious manner, the Coalition pointed out.
Unless Congress acts soon to reign in DoD and OPM management and require them to follow the letter of the law passed by both Houses, the Pentagon has indicated it will begin attempting to implement its harmful new personnel system this fall. The result is certain to be a protracted legal battle that will see DoD waste millions of dollars in taxpayers' money attempting to defend its unlawful and unsupportable personnel plan.
As the DoD Workers Coalition pointed out in its letter to Secretary England , this does not have to be the case.
"Let us repeat that the dedicated Americans we represent and their unions want DoD to be the most successful agency in the world and are prepared to support significant positive change. Despite the fact that DoD representative failed to offer any serious rationale or evidence for their regressive, unlawful changes, the union representatives have put together a serious package of proposals for real change addressing the expressed interests of DoD and the statute [passed by Congress]. We hope that you and the Secretary will reverse what has been a sham process in which DoD has ignored the legislative intent, the 58,000 public comments and the employee union representatives in the "meet and confer" process at DoD."