WASHINGTON—The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) today presented legal arguments in federal court against the Department of Defense’s (DoD) plan to implement its controversial National Security Personnel System (NSPS). AFGE, along with several union coalition partners, started its fight to protect the rights and pay of civilian DoD workers by filing a lawsuit in February 2005 challenging the legality of the rules.
AFGE argued before Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. During the hearing, AFGE scored a major victory when DoD representatives agreed to postpone implementation of NSPS until March 1 to give Judge Sullivan time to review arguments and issue a decision. The postponement marks the second time in as many months that DoD has delayed implementation of NSPS, originally scheduled to go into effect in the spring of 2005.
AFGE has argued that DoD defied Congress by refusing to engage in any meaningful collaboration with the unions that represent the department’s employees, as called for in the legislation that authorized the creation of NSPS. AFGE has consistently stated that NSPS stands to devastate the federal workforce by gutting worker pay, eliminating collective bargaining rights, rendering whistleblower protections moot and wasting millions of taxpayer dollars.
The AFGE-led lawsuit that prompted today’s hearing mirrors a lawsuit filed by AFGE and other labor unions against comparable personnel regulations at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Twice last year Federal District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer ruled to block implementation of the DHS proposal because of illegal provisions.
“We are confident that Judge Sullivan will rule against DoD’s extreme personnel proposal,” said AFGE National President John Gage. “AFGE won a similar case against the Department of Homeland Security and we will win against this misnamed DoD scheme.”
If implemented, NSPS would eliminate the decades old general schedule (also known as GS) pay scale system and other federal workplace rules and affect 750,000 civilian defense workers.