DHS defends new personnel rules against unions’ assault

The Homeland Security Department responded Friday to an attempt by a group of labor unions to halt the introduction of new personnel regulations, arguing the effort is unwarranted and contrary to public interest.

The department filed a motion opposing an injunction that several unions requested on June 22. The National Treasury Employees Union, the American Federation of Government Employees and three other unions filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia asking a judge to stall the slated Aug. 1 implementation of the rules.

If the unions are successful, DHS employees would continue to operate under current regulations until the legality of the new regulations are decided. A hearing on the motion is scheduled before Judge Rosemary M. Collyer on Thursday.

Union officials criticized a number of elements in the new personnel system, including the introduction of a pay-for-performance system, a reduction of independent oversight for DHS disciplinary procedures and an alleged failure to meet employee collective bargaining rights.

DHS said its system will merge numerous federal agencies into one and "enable the department to respond quickly and effectively to evolving threats to the nation's security."

DHS said an injunction would only prolong "inflexible procedures" and "ultimately frustrate and undermine the central objective…which is to enhance (not impair) the department's ability to deal flexibly and effectively with the scourge of terrorism."

In a memorandum explaining their motion, the unions said, "The implementation of the regulations on Aug. 1 will result in multiple irreparable injuries to the unions and the employees they represent."

By law, the unions must prove "irreparable harm" in order to get the temporary halt. DHS argued in its response that the unions' alleged irreparable injuries are "largely speculative and theoretical and therefore wholly insufficient to establish either standing or irreparable harm."

NTEU argued in the motion that employees at the Customs and Border Protection bureau "will be subject to reassignment from, for example, a seaport on the East Coast to one on the West Coast without being given any choice, or voice, in the matter."

DHS maintained that the unions could not prove this will occur. It cited Robert Smith, a human resources manager at CBP, as saying that CBP has never required such a reassignment, despite the fact that it has the power to do so even now.

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:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


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