AFGE CALLS NEW DHS PERSONNEL PROPOSAL “SERIOUSLY FLAWED”
Union President Plans Continued Talks with DHS Secretary Ridge to Reach Consensus
(Washington)—The President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), John Gage, today criticized new personnel regulations released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) but said he was encouraged by a personal commitment by DHS Secretary Tom Ridge to work with unions representing federal workers to establish a personnel system which was fair.
“Quite naturally federal workers on the frontlines are upset, said Gage. “The new rules eliminate the ability of employee-elected representatives to bargain about key working conditions. The very people who have the knowledge and the expertise about how to do the job well would no longer have a real voice in decisions which will not only affect them but the people they protect,” he added.
Gage also noted that the proposed new pay system will not pay employees enough to maintain an experienced professional workforce. “However, we intend to work with Secretary Ridge to make sure that doesn’t happen. He indicated that he wants the unions to help him design the details of the new system,” said Gage. Further Gage cites as unfair to the employees the elimination of an independent arbitration system on adverse actions taken by managers towards employees.
“Secretary Ridge has met with us and we have had meaningful and substantive discussions on the initial proposal. The Secretary has promised these meaningful discussions will continue. We plan to aggressively represent the interests of our members throughout the process,” said Gage. “It is our intent to negotiate a new system that is good for the mission, good for the employees, and good for the American people.”
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 600,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.