The Defense Department is planning to cut pay and pensions of commissary workers, as recommended by the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission. Their plan is to merge the Defense Commissaries Agency (DeCA) and the Army and Air Force Exchange System (AAFES) and then covert DeCA employees to non-appropriated fund (NAF) status.
After being converted to NAF, DeCA employees will no longer be eligible for the Federal Employees Health Benefits. They will instead have to pay more for health insurance they will obtain through DoD. They also will not be eligible for the Federal Employees Retirement System and will instead be put on the NAF retirement program that has higher retirement ages and makes lower employer contributions. Their pay will be cut as much as 50%, depending on where they live. This would lead to exactly what the President has been talking about: a continuing decline in wages and benefits for the middle class. And many of these workers are military spouses who put their own lives on hold in order to keep their family together when their spouses are deployed.
AFGE is urging the department to halt the plan.
“The exchanges and commissaries are used by almost the entire military community and are considered to be vital forms of compensation by military families while amounting to less than 0.3% of the entire DoD budget,” said AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. in a letter to Stephanie Barna, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness and Force Management. “If only the department were so focused on a reduction in spending on service contracts, which has more than doubled since 2001 and which now exceeds the cost of military personnel and civilian personnel combined.”
AFGE is also urging members of Congress not to approve the job-killing plan.