(WASHINGTON) – The American Federation of Government Employees today filed a complaint on behalf of civilian employees in the Air Force who maintain a dual status as Air Force Reserve Technicians. For years Air Force Reserve Technicians, who are civilian bargaining unit employees in the Department of Defense, have enjoyed working as civilians while serving their country in the Air Force Reserves.
As part of a concerted effort to beat back the recently enacted mandate to force civilian Air Force Reserve Technicians to dress in military uniforms while in civilian status, AFGE Local activists, General Counsel, Legislative, and Field Services departments have organized a strategic team to protect the civilian status of these government employees. The members mentioned in the complaint are being represented by Eugene Fidell, head of the Military Practice Group in the firm Feldsman, Tucker, Leifer, Fidell LLP.
“We are arguing that the regulation regarding the uniforms is capricious and contrary to law,” said Eugene Fidell, the attorney handling the case. “A civilian employee cannot be required to wear a military uniform. Requiring ARTs to wear military dress while serving in their civilian capacity improperly upsets settled expectations and confuses military and civilian status.”
The mandate requiring ARTs to dress in uniform was enacted by the Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC). The AFRC claims that the change is meant to facilitate integration with active duty Air Force and National Guard members. Many local union members feel the move is aimed at undermining collective bargaining rights. Specifically, ART union members say the mandate is designed to give the administration wide latitude in deploying federal employees without honoring previously negotiated collective bargaining agreements. ART union members also believe the administration may be using the new mandate as a precursory step to convert civilian employees to “active duty” status without providing them the same pay and medical benefits of active duty personnel.