(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) has appealed a decision of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia upholding a race-based contracting preference directed solely at Native American owned enterprises. [See AFGE et al., v. United States, et al., No. 00-936 (RMU) (Mar. 29, 2002).]
AFGE challenged the constitutionality of a provision of the Defense Appropriation Act (Pub L. 106-79) authorizing defense agencies to convert defense work directly to majority Native American owned firms without doing the required cost-comparison between in-house and contractor performance.
AFGE sued when the Air Force used the provision to contract base maintenance operations at MacDill (Tampa, Fla.) and Kirtland (Albuquerque, N.M.) Air Force Bases to the Chugach Alaska Corporation without giving federal employees, or other contractors, an opportunity to “bid” on the work. Each contract was a single-source, ten year contract worth over $500 million.
Before the District Court, AFGE maintained that the challenged legislation is a race-based preference similar to that which the Supreme Court declared constitutionally suspect in the landmark case of Adarand Cosntructor, Inc. v. Pena, 515 U.S. 200, 217 (1995). The court disagreed saying that the Native American preference was actually Indian tribal legislation, citing Morton v. Mancari, 471 U.S. 535 (1974).
AFGE is appealing the order because it fails to give effect to the more recent Supreme Court’s rulings concerning unconstitutional efforts to promote minority enterprises.
AFGE is the largest union for government employees, representing 600,000 federal and D.C. workers. Log onto www.afge.org to learn more about AFGE.