Unions call for repeal of law authorizing new Defense personnel system

Union officials who walked out of meetings with Defense Department leaders over the design of the National Security Personnel System asked Congress Tuesday to repeal legislation authorizing the department to create new civil service rules for its 650,000 civilian workers.

"We're calling on every member of Congress and every senator to do the right thing," said Richard N. Brown, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees. "And that right thing is to reverse NSPS. It will do more harm than good."

Six unions-NFFE, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the International Association of Fire Fighters, the National Association of Government Employees, the Metal Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, and the National Association of Independent Labor-walked out of congressionally mandated meet-and-confer sessions between Defense management and union leaders on Monday. The six unions represent about 100,000 Defense workers.

Five of the unions are members of the 36-member United Defense Workers Coalition, which is lobbying against Defense's proposed rules, and continues to meet with Defense leaders. The National Association of Independent Labor is not a member of the coalition, but was participating in the meet-and-confer sessions.

Defense's rules, announced in February, have yet to be finalized, but they would restrict union bargaining rights, create stricter disciplinary rules and eliminate the General Schedule in favor of a pay-for-performance system.

Mark Gibson, a negotiator with the American Federation of Government Employees, said union members have indicated that they want to continue meeting with Defense management. The meet-and-confer sessions are scheduled to end Thursday. But Gibson said he respected his colleagues' decision and felt as disheartened as they about the details of the new system. "Congress is accountable. It's their bad law. They need to fix it," he said.

Ronald Ault, president of the Metal Trades department of the AFL-CIO, said Congress has a long history of making bad law, some far more severe than NSPS. "Slavery was once the law of the land," he said. "At one time, women didn't have the right to vote. If you look at the shameful history of our Congress heaping injustices on the American people, NSPS is just the latest bad law."

The preliminary rules indicated that Defense would declare issues related to the assignment of work, deployments and use of new technology to be management rights that are not subject to collective bargaining. But the rules provided few details of how Defense would define those areas.

During the meet-and-confer process, the unions objected strongly to indications from Defense leaders that the final rules will allow the Defense secretary to issue directives that would overrule collective bargaining agreements.

The union leaders offered different assessments of what future role unions would have at the Defense Department. Ault said the rules so restrict unions' role that he would have trouble recruiting members. "I wouldn't pay for something that doesn't have any value," he said. But Gibson indicated that the unions plan to fight on, lobbying Congress and organizing at the local level to overturn the new system.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.