All areas except civil engineering will continue to be run by the government, and civil engineering will be operated by Defense Support Services, a company based in Mount Laurel, N.J., according to a news release issued by the 82nd Training Wing Public Affairs office.
The changes, if uncontested, will be phased in and completed August 2009.
“We have to go to work for the contractor, possibly making less wages or possibly gaining wages — we don’t know until we see the contract. But we do know that most of the employees here are interested in working for the federal government and keeping their federal jobs; thusly most of them will probably leave this area,” said Larry Sosebee, president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1731, speaking about the 180 civilians who work in civil engineering on base.
Brig. Gen. O.G. Mannon, 82nd Training Wing commander, said the base is now entering a 10-day period where interested parties will be able to contest the results of the A-76 study.
“We’re giving individuals that are associated with the contracting process an opportunity to challenge the study, to challenge the way the decisions were made, so that there is a fair and equitable process for all concerned parties,” Mannon said.
Sosebee and Gary Johnson, AFGE Local 779 president, said they will file a protest during that 10-day time period.
“We believe we are the best people to do this and perform these jobs and positions at the present time, and we are effectively trying to file protest, which will be forthcoming in the next several days,” Sosebee said.
Johnson said both unions believe the process was not fair. He said that the new leadership at the base has been looking at ways to work with the union to help protect federal employees, but the problem lies beyond them, with governmental representation in Washington.
“Both unions at Sheppard agree that this was not a fair competition, that there were several procurement laws violated,” Johnson said. “From our meetings with the new administration (on base) it appears they are really wanting to work with the union and to protect the federal employees that are out there, but this is beyond them. This is at a national level … (Sen. Kay Bailey) Hutchison did nothing, (Rep. Mac) Thornberry did little, (Sen. John) Cornyn did a little bit more, but nobody did enough.”
Mannon said government employees in civil engineering who may be affected by the contractor taking over have several options.
“Our most important concern is to ensure people are well informed and that we are giving them all the opportunities to continue in service that we can,” Mannon said. “If the contractor comes in for civil engineering, they (employees) have the first right of refusal.”
Mannon said that right of refusal and other options were laid out for civilians during a town hall meeting Thursday at the base theater.
“We laid out eight different activities that are in place currently to help with this transition, from voluntary separation to movement to Region 2 … they can compete for other jobs and they’ll get first right for those jobs based on their qualifications. There’s incentives for early retirement … the list goes on and on,” Mannon said. “We have to provide the right leadership and the right information to take care of these people, because they are the backbone of this base.”