Can you live with $10,000 less a year? If the Pentagon gets its way, 12,000 employees working at military grocery stores nationwide could face a pay cut of at least $10,000 a year.
The Pentagon is asking Congress to change the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA)’s status from an appropriated fund agency, which receives funding from Congress every year, to a non-appropriated fund (NAF) agency, which is self-funded.
NAFing the commissaries means a huge pay cut for the already low-paid workers. In Detroit, for example, a DeCA store associate starts at $31,036 a year. If NAFed, he or she could instead start at only $20,371. According to recently released analysis by the Economic Policy Institute, a family of four in Detroit will need to make at least $64,471 just to get by. A large number of DeCA workers are military spouses who supplement their military income by working at the commissaries.
DeCA has a noble mission: providing a saving benefit in the form of inexpensive groceries to military personnel and their families to boost morale and readiness.
With such a drastic cut, the commissaries will have no choice but mark up their products, shifting the burden to military personnel who don’t make a whole lot to begin with and rely on this kind of benefit to make ends meet.
“As you understand better than most if not all lawmakers, the robber baron-style gutting of a workforce by an ostensible progressive employer would be terrible for workers generally and the public sector specifically. What a calamitous precedent to set!” said AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. in a letter to co-chairs of the House Progressive Caucus Reps. Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison.
Cox asked the chairs to intervene and help other elected officials understand the consequences of NAFing the commissary workforce.