DOD, UNIONS ARGUE NSPS




“We were pleased to present our argument to the judge, and we look forward to his ruling,” said NSPS Program Executive Officer Mary Lacey.

“We are confident that Judge Sullivan will rule against DoD’s extreme personnel proposal. AFGE won a similar case against the Department of Homeland Security and we will win against this misnamed DoD scheme,” said American Federation of Government Employees President John Gage.

Judge Sullivan asked DoD to delay implementing the system until he issues a decision March 1. (NSPS Spiral 1.1 is currently scheduled to be implemented April 30.)

NSPS is a performance-based human capital system that would affect approximately 700,000 DoD civilian employees concerning pay and classification, performance management, hiring, workforce shaping, disciplinary matters, appeals procedures and labor-management relations.





http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/6420AP_Shipyard_Union.html

SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/6420AP_Shipyard_Union.html
Wednesday, January 25, 2006 • Last updated 2:07 p.m. PT
Judge delays disputed rules for civilian defense workers
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
A new personnel system affecting about 700,000 civilian defense workers is on hold at least until March 1.
A federal judge in Washington, D.C., got both sides to agree to the delay Tuesday during a hearing on a lawsuit filed by unions to block the system.
"It's an extremely important case and it is extremely complex," U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said during a three-hour hearing.
The unions claim the National Security Personnel System would violate federal law by undercutting the workers' right to collective bargaining. The Defense Department says it needs the rules, which would make it easier to hire, fire and discipline employees, to fight the war on terror effectively.
The Metal Trades Council is one several affected unions at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine. Council President Paul O'Connor called the delay good news. Portsmouth has about 5,000 affected workers.
"It shows me that there are enough people paying attention that something's not right here," O'Connor said. "We'll see what happens."
O'Connor has said the new system would empower the Defense Department to make policy changes that would override existing labor contracts.
"We have lost the ability and the right of collective bargaining ... this is just as big to us as BRAC," he said, referring to the nationwide round of base closures that Portsmouth barely survived last year.
A new personnel system at the Homeland Security Department was delayed when a judge ruled in August that its system undermined collective bargaining rights. The government has appealed.
Joseph Lobue, a lawyer for the Justice Department, told Sullivan that case is "very different" from the Defense Department one.
Unions comprising the United Department of Defense Workers Coalition sued in November to block the Defense proposal.

http://www.hilltoptimes.com/story.asp?edition=231&storyid=6443

AF announces NSPS schedule changes
The National Security Personnel System office here was notified recently by the Air Force of changes to the deployment schedule for the new personnel system.
The changes include Spiral 1.1 being downsized from 70,000 employees Department of Defense-wide to about 11,000. The Air Force’s original Spiral 1.1 of nine installations and about 17,000 employees will be changed to a group of 3,100 employees, in primarily supervisory or professional positions, at Tinker AFB, Okla. This revised Spiral 1.1 is expected to deploy in May.
According to officials, the rest of the deployment schedule is currently being reviewed and adjusted at the DOD level -- Spiral 1.2 is scheduled to begin in October and Spiral 1.3 is scheduled to begin in January 2007. The components and DOD agencies are identifying activities participating in each of these spirals.
Hill previously requested permission to deploy in Spiral 1.3 rather than 1.2. The status of that request is still pending.
Officials indicated that three significant events led to the deployment schedule change including:
• Continuing dialogue with labor unions representing employees in the continuing collaboration process;
• The re-design of the proposed NSPS performance evaluation architecture to ensure it is robust, yet clear, simple and understandable; and,
• The lawsuit filed by the union Jan. 24.
More information about NSPS is available on the Hill NSPS Web site at www.hill.af.mil/nsps/. The Web site and the Hilltop Times will carry future updates on the new system.

http://www.boston.com/news/local/maine/articles/2006/01/25/judge_delays_disputed_rules_for_civilian_defense_workers/

Judge delays disputed rules for civilian defense workers
By The Associated Press | January 25, 2006
A controversial new personnel system affecting nearly 5,000 Portsmouth Naval Shipyard workers and roughly 700,000 civilian defense workers elsewhere is on hold at least until March 1.
A federal judge in Washington, D.C., got both sides to agree to the delay Tuesday during a hearing on a lawsuit filed by unions to block the system.
"It's an extremely important case and it is extremely complex," U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said during a three-hour hearing.
The unions claim the National Security Personnel System would violate federal law by undercutting the workers' right to collective bargaining. The Defense Department says it needs the rules, which would make it easier to hire, fire and discipline employees, to fight the war on terror effectively.
The Metal Trades Council is one several affected unions at the shipyard, which is in Kittery, Maine. Council President Paul O'Connor called the delay good news.
"It shows me that there are enough people paying attention that something's not right here," O'Connor said. "We'll see what happens."
O'Connor has said previously the new system would empower the Defense Department to make policy changes that would override existing labor contracts.
"We have lost the ability and the right of collective bargaining ... this is just as big to us as BRAC," he said, referring to the nationwide round of base closures that Portsmouth barely survived last year.
A new personnel system at the Homeland Security Department was delayed when a judge ruled in August that its system undermined collective bargaining rights. The government has appealed.
Joseph Lobue, a lawyer for the Justice Department, told Sullivan that case is "very different" from the Defense Department one.
Unions comprising the United Department of Defense Workers Coalition sued in November to block the Defense proposal.

http://washingtontimes.com/op-ed/20060125-095140-9035r.htm

The Washington Times
www.washingtontimes.com
________________________________________
Mexicans crossing the line
Published January 26, 2006

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said last week's report of Mexican military units crossing into U.S. territory was "overblown." Insofar as the 216 documented incursions since 1996 aren't reconnaissance units preparing for a coming invasion, Mr. Chertoff is probably correct. But Monday's standoff between U.S. and Texas law enforcers and men dressed as Mexican Army soldiers suggests the secretary's unenthusiastic response is a bit underblown.
The confrontation occurred along the Rio Grande 50 miles from El Paso, Texas. As state deputies pursued three SUVs smuggling narcotics, they encountered on the U.S. side of the river several men in Mexican military uniforms operating a Humvee armed with .50-caliber machine guns. When one of the SUVs got stuck trying to cross the river, deputies said the "soldiers" helped offload what appeared to be bundles of marijuana and set the truck ablaze. No shots were fired. This follows an incident in November, when Border Patrol agents attempting to off-load a truck stuck in the river were challenged by armed men also dressed in Mexican military uniforms.
The Mexican Embassy denies that members of the Mexican military were involved in either case. It also disputes the notion that its military has ever crossed over the border, innocently or not. Nonsense, says T.J. Bonner, a Border Patrol veteran and head of the National Border Patrol Council. "Intrusions by the Mexican military to protect drug loads happen all the time and represent a significant threat to agents," he told reporter Jerry Seper of The Washington Times last week. Indeed, as Mr. Seper reported, Border Patrol agents have been instructed to essentially hide when they encounter a Mexican unit in U.S. territory.
Considering the level of corruption within the Mexican government, it certainly isn't hard to imagine a scenario in which drug lords bribe Mexican units to act as mercenaries. There's also speculation that these brigands are former members of a Mexican anti-drug unit trained in commando tactics by the United States. Whoever they are, they're heavily armed, apparently well-trained and pose a serious risk to U.S. agents.
Which is why the Bush administration needs to find out what's going on and who's behind it. As a matter of border security, the United States cannot allow foreign commandos to operate with impunity inside our country. That should be common sense. But apparently it's not the prevailing wisdom. "It's been so bred into everyone not to start an international incident with Mexico that it's been going on for years," Chief Deputy Mike Doyal of the Hudspeth County, Texas, Sheriff's Department told the Associated Press.
Yet if these brigands are Mexican military, then the international incident has already happened. Under such circumstances, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice should call in Mexican Ambassador Carlos de Icaza and and formally express our government's deepest concerns. At the very least, the Bush administration must assure the public that we will not be out-gunned on our own soil.


http://www.mysanantonio.com/opinion/editorials/stories/MYSA012606.01O.border1ed.168d5363.html

Editorial: The porous border has a sinister side
Web Posted: 01/26/2006 12:00 AM CST

San Antonio Express-News
The identities of the armed men in military fatigues who crossed the Rio Grande into Texas this week to support a marijuana smuggling operation aren't clear.
Details of the operation, obtained by Express-News reporter Mariano Castillo, suggest that as many as 20 gun-toting desperados were part of the convoy that came across the border near El Paso on Monday.
Hudspeth County sheriff's deputies, DPS troopers and Border Patrol agents who gave chase were eventually confronted on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande by a military-style Humvee armed with a heavy machine gun.
The El Paso incident comes as two California newspapers, the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin and the San Bernardino Sun, disclosed a Department of Homeland Security document identifying 216 military or paramilitary incursions from Mexico since 1996. One-third of them have occurred in Texas.
The Mexican government denies the drug-running escorts are Mexican soldiers. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says concern about the incursions is overblown — they might just be criminals wearing military-style uniforms.
T.J. Bonner, head of the National Border Patrol Council, disagrees. "Intrusions by the Mexican military to protect drug loads happen all the time and represent a significant threat to the agents," he told the Washington Times.
Whatever the provenance of the gunmen, no nation can tolerate these types of armed incursions on its soil. American sovereignty can't be overblown. And the porous nature of the U.S.-Mexico border has a more sinister side than immigrants looking for better lives.
U.S. and Mexican authorities need to get to the bottom of the mystery gunmen quickly. More important, they must put an end to these dangerous breaches of the border.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0601260021jan26,1,6972046.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed

Smugglers wore uniform, Mexico says
Associated Press

January 26, 2006

MEXICO CITY -- The men dressed in military garb who crossed the border and confronted Texas law officers this week were drug smugglers, not Mexican soldiers, officials said Wednesday, illustrating Mexico's thorny problem with criminals who masquerade as security forces.

Photos of what appeared to be Mexican troops in U.S. territory during the incident Monday shocked many Americans; Mexico denied its military was involved.

"It is known that these are drug traffickers using military uniforms, and they were not even regulation military uniforms," Mexican presidential spokesman Ruben Aguilar said.

A U.S. law-enforcement official said the FBI and other agencies found no evidence that the uniformed men were Mexican soldiers. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Both countries said they were investigating the case, which comes at a time of rising anger over border security, with Washington considering extending a wall along its 2,000-mile-long frontier with Mexico--an idea Mexicans bitterly resent.

http://ktla.trb.com/news/la-me-border26jan26,0,820594.story?coll=ktla-news-1

Reports Cite Incursions on U.S. Border
By Richard Marosi, Robert J. Lopez and Rich Connell
Times Staff Writers

January 26, 2006

Armed Mexican government personnel made unauthorized incursions into the United States five times in the last three months of 2005, including one incident last month in Southern California, according to confidential Department of Homeland Security records.

The crossings involved police officers or soldiers in military vehicles and were among 231 such incidents recorded by the U.S. Border Patrol in the last 10 years.

The records obtained by The Times provide new details on more than a dozen incursions into the U.S., including the five most recent ones.

Details of the incidents emerged as authorities on both sides of the border scrambled to investigate a dangerous confrontation Monday in Texas.

Heavily armed personnel in a military-style Humvee from Mexico helped drug smugglers fleeing police to escape back across the border, according to authorities. An internal Border Patrol summary of the incident said the Humvee was equipped with a .50-caliber machine gun.

It was the second such incident in three months in the same rural county southeast of El Paso.

"It's clear you're dealing with a large number of incursions by bona-fide Mexican military units, based on the tactics and the equipment being used," said T.J. Bonner, a Border Patrol veteran and president of the agents union.

Reports of incursions into the U.S. by gun-toting groups of men dressed in what appeared to be military or police uniforms along the Mexican frontier have become a powerful rallying point for advocates of illegal immigration crackdowns and tighter border security.

The incursions have also intensified a long-running debate over the merits of fencing the 2,000-mile Mexican border, now a patchwork of metal barriers, rusted and broken barbed wire and expanses of rugged terrain where the divide is difficult to identify. In Texas, the Rio Grande separates the two nations.

U.S. Border Patrol Chief David V. Aguilar said that incursions by Mexican government personnel were nothing new, and that U.S. agents on occasion have crossed accidentally into Mexico. He noted that incursions have declined by more than 50% since 2002. Still, with assault rates against agents at record highs, any incursion is taken "very seriously."

"These are not taken lightly at any level within the Border Patrol … and it is an ongoing concern," Aguilar said.

U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said in an interview Wednesday that this week's incident in Texas was "about as serious as it gets" and noted that dozens of reported incursions have occurred in his state.

The encounters seriously undermine efforts to stop the flow of drugs coming across the U.S. border and suggest possible cooperation among Mexican authorities and traffickers, he said.

"You do not want to get into a fight with guys carrying machine guns," said Kyl, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security.

He has asked the State Department to investigate the incursions and said that he plans to hold a hearing on the issue in March. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), a leading anti-illegal immigration lawmaker, called this week for U.S. troops to be deployed along the border to counter armed incursions.

Mexican officials on Wednesday denied that their police and military have been involved in illicit crossings but said they are investigating Monday's incident.

In recent interviews, local and federal law enforcement officials in south Texas and the San Diego area said a long pattern of encounters with Mexican government units along the border have bolstered suspicions that their counterparts work with smugglers. In Laredo, Texas, authorities said they have repeatedly seen Mexican military units clearing people from brushy areas along the south banks of the Rio Grande shortly before loads of migrants and drugs are brought across.

Several of the incidents described in the Department of Homeland Security reports appeared to involve Mexican officials getting lost or pursuing suspects. For example, five Tijuana police officers pursued two men across the border in 2004. Some of the officers fired at the suspects while on U.S. soil, according to a Border Patrol report. The police returned to Mexico after arresting the men.

Other encounters were more suspicious and add to concerns among many U.S. law enforcement officials that corruption in Mexico is eroding efforts to gain control of the border and combat trafficking in humans and drugs.

In October, Border Patrol agents in the El Cajon area east of San Diego reported seeing Humvees on the south side of the border fence. Minutes later, they saw two men in Mexican military uniforms carrying rifles in a creek bed north of the border, according to the records. When an agent approached, the two men ran south and drove off in the Humvees. Agents found footprints indicating three or four individuals had come north of the border and then returned.

Other incidents included Mexican helicopters flying north into U.S. airspace near El Paso for about 15 minutes, five Mexican officials armed with assault rifles entering the country near El Centro and returning without incident, and two Mexican police officers observed wandering along the U.S. side of the border near Yuma, Ariz.

Witnesses in El Paso reported in 2004 that a Mexican military-style helicopter landed just south of the border and armed men in federal police uniforms crossed into the U.S. and questioned them about vehicles before returning to Mexico, according to a Border Patrol report.

A spokesman for the Mexican Embassy in Washington, Rafael Laveaga, said Wednesday that he had not seen the report and declined to comment.

He said there have been accidental entries across the border in recent years by both U.S. and Mexican law enforcement personnel. As a result of those incidents, Mexican military units are prohibited from coming within a mile of the U.S. border unless they receive authorization from commanders to pursue criminals, Laveaga said.

Many U.S. law enforcement authorities paint a different picture.

"Every time traffickers come across, the military is close by," said Sheriff Arvin West of Hudspeth County, Texas, where Monday's standoff occurred. He said military crossings occur weekly in his county and are so common that "people don't even report it anymore."

Monday's incident is being investigated by U.S., Texas and Mexican authorities. But initial accounts appear to make it one of the clearest examples yet of either private militia or government troops aiding traffickers.

A confidential Border Patrol summary of the incident said it began when county sheriff's deputies and state troopers tried to stop three vehicles on an interstate highway southeast of El Paso. All three vehicles made a run for the border, the report said.

One vehicle, a black 2006 Cadillac Escalade loaded with nearly 1,500 pounds of marijuana in plastic-wrapped bales, was abandoned near the border, West said.

As deputies approached the river they saw a Mexican military Humvee on the U.S. side, West said. A second vehicle bogged down in ankle-deep water in the Rio Grande, while the other made it back to Mexico.

"The Humvee attempted to push and pull [the stuck vehicle] toward Mexico to no avail," the Border Patrol summary said.

At that point, West said, Mexican soldiers and civilians began unloading marijuana from the stranded vehicle. About 20 Mexican personnel in military uniforms, with insignias on their caps, took up positions on the south side of the river and pointed automatic rifles at about half a dozen sheriff's deputies and state troopers.

"They were daring my guys to make a move," West said.

As deputies took photos, the uniformed men burned the vehicle after it had been unloaded, then retreated into Mexico.

Laveaga, the Mexican embassy spokesman, said his country's military units in the area do not use Humvees or the types of weapons described by U.S. authorities. He noted that Mexican drug-smuggling rings have been known to use military uniforms and weapons.

Bonner, of the border agents union, questioned how anyone "can move around in a Humvee with a 50-cal on it unless they have the permission of the government."

West said the confrontation was similar to an incident in mid-November in the same area. In that incident, sheriff's deputies and Border Patrol agents who intercepted a disabled dump truck filled with several tons of marijuana were backed off by heavily armed, uniformed men described by West as military personnel.

A bulldozer appeared on the Mexican side, West said, and towed the truck back across the border.

Texas has launched its own investigation of this week's incident, said Rachael Novier, a spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Perry. Regardless of who was involved on the Mexican side, she said, "it was unacceptable."


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