Defense Department guidance on preparations for the possibility of sequestration unfairly targets civilian employees, according to a major federal employees union.
The American Federation of Government Employees sent a letter to a top Pentagon official Wednesday sharply criticizing the department for proposing to slash civilian jobs over contracted jobs, bypassing labor negotiation requirements and ignoring recommendations made by the union in the event of automatic budget cuts set to go into effect March 1 if lawmakers can't agree on an alternative.
While AFGE commended Defense’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Readiness and Force Management Frederick Vollrath for his openness and communication, it said his directives would harm not only the workforce but also the American people. While civilians face hiring freezes, firing of temporary and term employees, incentives to retire and furloughs, the contract workers “emerge relatively unscathed,” said AFGE National President J. David Cox, Sr. Such a contrast, Cox wrote, would come at the added expense of the taxpayer.
Cox also condemned the possibility of turning civilian workers into contractors. He called the shift illegal and unnecessary. He added that executives at Defense have not been properly notified of their obligation to bargain with unions like AFGE.
Finally, AFGE criticized Defense for ignoring recommendations made by the New Beginning Design Team, a joint review board made up of union and Defense representatives.
Cox said sequestration, coupled with civilian workforce cuts built into the National Defense Authorization Act, create an unfair scenario for Defense employees.“How does this reflect a holistic, analytically based approach?” Cox asked the acting assistant secretary in his letter. “How does this promote elementary principles of equity?”