In a strong show of bipartisan support, the Senate has rejected a move to privatize five Department of Defense commissaries under a pilot project that could have resulted in the privatization of all military grocery stores.
The Senate voted 70 to 28 on June 7 to kill the privatization pilot project, which had been included in the Senate version of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which funds most defense programs. The bipartisan amendment rejecting the privatization effort was sponsored by Senators Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland.
This amendment wouldn’t have passed without the activism of AFGE's DoD members, who sent nearly 2,000 emails to their lawmakers voicing opposition to the privatization project and other harmful provisions in the NDAA.
Now, AFGE is working to remove a provision in the both the House and Senate versions of the NDAA that would slash the pay and benefits of future commissary workers by making them non-appropriated fund employees. This downgrade would result in pay cuts of anywhere from 10% to 30%, depending on job and location, for commissary workers – many of whom are veterans or spouses of active-duty members.
"Military families and communities around large military bases depend on these jobs to survive," said AFGE National President J. David Cox, Sr. "As incomes drop for millions of low-to-middle income families across the country, we need to take a stand and pay people what they deserve; a living wage they can raise a family on."