Civilian employees in the Department of Defense (DoD) support our military warfighters at home and abroad, but lately many feel like they're not getting any support in return from their employer.
Thousands of civilian jobs are on the chopping block in communities across the country, including Fort Huachuca along the Arizona-Mexico border and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. Commissary workers, many of whom are veterans or spouses of enlisted soldiers, could see their pay and benefits slashed under a proposal to defund the Defense Commissary Agency. Employees on long-term travel now get just a portion of their expenses paid under cuts to the per diem policy that went into effect in November.
And then there are the plans to strip all employees of their civil service rights, shut down installations through another Base Realignment and Closure process, and outsource jobs to private contractors.
That’s why it’s more important than ever to remind the folks in Washington that their actions have real consequences on frontline employees and their families.
Rather than sit back and accept defeat, dozens of AFGE activists from DoD facilities around the country descended on Washington the second week of March for the second annual DoD Lobby Week. Activists from 13 locals representing 16 congressional districts participated in the week-long series of meetings, educational briefings, and policy trainings.
“The only way we’re going to stop the attacks on our jobs is to hold these face-to-face meetings with the officials who make the decisions,” Defense Conference (DEFCON) Acting Vice Chair Bill Ward said.
Members met with senior Pentagon officials and congressional staff to discuss a host of issues affecting the 250,000 DoD civilian employees AFGE represents. The meetings were held on Capitol Hill, at the Pentagon, and at AFGE’s headquarters.
"It was great to have actual conversations with the people who make the decisions that affect DoD workers," said Katie Rasdall, president of AFGE Local 1662 at Fort Huachuca. "They were receptive to hearing from us and learning about the challenges that workers are facing in the field."
The timing for this week of action was key, as congressional committees are about to begin debate on next year’s spending and authorization bills. By meeting personally with congressional staff and DoD officials, these AFGE activists helped put a face on policies that could impact civilian workers across the country.