Union says “chaotic” deployment system could get worse under new Department personnel system
(Washington)— The National Defense Workers Conference (DEFCON) of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) today expressed concern over what it calls the potential “irrational” overseas deployment of civilian defense workers.
Right now 53,000 civilian defense workers are stationed overseas. But DEFCON Chair Don Hale says the number of “unwarranted” deployments could increase significantly under the new proposed National Security Personnel System. “Under the new personnel system the Department of Defense (DOD) will be able to deploy civilian employees within 72 hours with no recourse,” Hale charged.
Hale cited one recent example where a 61-year old English teacher with the Defense Language Institute English Learning Center in Texas was deployed to Iraq. This despite the fact that other candidates with equal or superior qualifications volunteered for the tour of duty. He says the teacher, who chooses to remain anonymous, was singled out because of her work with the union.
Some civilian defense workers are required to sign “mobility” agreements but most are not required to go to war zones or overseas. “When single parents or spouses of military personnel already overseas are deployed who will care for their children?” Hale added.
Union leaders and some anonymous management officials have questioned the new personnel system because of the unparalleled control it gives supervisors to determine working conditions for civilian DOD personnel.
On Feb. 23 AFGE, and 10 other DOD unions, filed suit against Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Acting Director Dan Blair. The suit claims that DOD and OPM did not adequately consult with the unions in developing the new regulations—as the law states—and that the regulations violate federal law by cutting collective bargaining rights.
The American Federation of Government Employees is the largest federal employee union representing 600,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.