Thanks to the outstanding work of AFGE activists across the country, the Senate, on June 17, voted in favor of an AFGE-backed measure blocking privatization of the commissaries.
The measure, an amendment to the 2016 Defense Authorization Act, would instead require DoD to conduct a study to gauge the impact of privatization. The amendment, sponsored by Sens. James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, has at least for now killed the privatization plan proposed by Senate Armed Forces Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
This is a huge win for AFGE, our local activists, and military families. Commissaries, which employ many military spouses, provide key savings for military families on tight budget.
Even though there’s no privatization threat in the near future, the commissaries are still not in the clear.
The Pentagon has proposed slashing the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA)’s annual budget from $1.4 billion to $400 million over the next three years, forcing the agency to mark up groceries and household goods. This will make commissaries less attractive to customers, which will further reduce DeCA’s revenues and force the agency to cut hours and days of operations.
In addition, the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission has proposed merging DeCA with AAFES and then converting all DeCA employees to non-appropriated fund (NAF) status. DeCA employees would face a significant pay cut. They would lose their health insurance under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and would no longer be covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System, switching instead to substandard health and retirement plans offered to NAF employees.