The National Security Personnel System was adopted in late October, and 10 unions jointly filed a lawsuit in early November aimed at blocking its implementation.
An agreement reached by the Pentagon and the labor unions last week delays implementation of the system until Feb. 1. The two sides have requested a court hearing in January on the lawsuit.
The new system, which replaces the longtime General Schedule system, was to begin going into effect late this year, with employee pay system changes by 2007. In replacing the General Schedule system, the Pentagon said a performance-oriented system would reward top performers, provide more workplace flexibility for managers and make it easier to recruit talent.
The unions, including the American Federation of Government Employees that represents about 8,000 workers at Redstone Arsenal, claim in the lawsuit that the Pentagon did not collaborate in the rules' development with the unions, as required by Congress.
The lawsuit also contends that the new system effectively eliminates collective bargaining and has an inadequate employee review and grievance process, giving supervisors too much power, without appeal rights.
A similar system for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is on hold after a federal judge ruled that it improperly ends workers' collective bargaining rights.
Don Eiermann, president of AFGE Local 1858 at Redstone, said the Pentagon is unlikely to change its approach because of the delay.
"We're going to go out and start talking to people after Thanksgiving about the changes that are coming," Eiermann said. "But everything is real vague. We're still waiting for the 'implementing issuances,' which will spell out the specifics on the procedures they want to implement."
The Department of Defense said that it will continue to train employees on the new system but that the changes won't take effect until Feb. 1.