By killing their spirit. A large number of workers who work at defense commissaries nationwide are veterans and military spouses, yet they are the prime target when the Pentagon is looking for ways to cut costs. Under a plan the Pentagon is considering, their pay will be cut substantially, their health insurance premium will go up, their pension a distant dream. This is more than a slap in the face considering DoD’s other wasteful expenses such as service contractors that are two to three times more expensive than federal employees. Many commissary workers are extremely demoralized by this treatment from the agency they risked their lives for. These workers know there are ways the commissaries can save, but the department is not exploring them.
AFGE is in the middle of a campaign to stop DoD from turning into a low-road employer. We recently met with Deputy Chief Management Officer Peter Levine to discuss the Pentagon’s plan to turn the Defense Commissary Agency into a non-appropriated fund (NAF) agency which will not receive annual funding from Congress. In a follow-up letter, AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. laid out a few suggestions regarding ways to produce savings, including expanding the customer base and removing restrictions on items which can be sold in the commissaries. Cox sought a meeting between Levine and members of the AFGE DeCA Council to discuss these possibilities.
“It makes no sense for this administration to arbitrarily slash the pay and benefits of an already modestly-compensated workforce composed disproportionately of veterans and military spouses,” Cox said.
AFGE also is preparing commissary activists for the upcoming legislative battle. DoD Legislative and Political Organizer Anthony Livingston recently met with the DeCA Council to give the council members a legislative briefing and outline the implications of the NAF’ing issue. He provided advocacy training and resources to thwart these efforts to protect these 15,500 commissary workers.
AFGE Assistant Legislative Director John Threlkeld on Tuesday met with staff of the House Armed Services Committee to discuss the Pentagon’s low-road approach to employment, emphasizing the fact that NAFing these workers is essentially “race-to-the bottom politics and beggar-thy-neighbor economics.”