The House this week passed an AFGE-backed bill that would make it easier for temporary seasonal workers at land management agencies to transition to permanent jobs under merit promotions.
Currently, about 10,000 temporary seasonal workers, including fire fighters, work up to six months a year but have little career advancement opportunities. Under the current law, they can only be employed in their old positions at the same step on the pay scale even though they have gained experience and developed expertise. This has encouraged high attrition rates and led to high training costs for these agencies.
Permanent seasonal employees, on the other hand, receive the same benefits as full-time workers. Instead of being completely let go the other half of the year when their service is not required, permanent seasonal workers are furloughed.
The bill, H.R. 1531, would allow temporary seasonal workers at the six land management agencies to be eligible for internal merit promotions currently available to permanent seasonal employees. These six agencies are the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Indian Affairs Bureau, and Bureau of Reclamation.
The bill was sponsored by Reps. Gerry Connolly of Virginia; Rob Bishop of Utah; and Don Young of Alaska. A companion bill has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Jon Tester of Montana.