April 25, 2003
Diane Witiak
(202) 639-6419

AFGE Renames DoD Proposals "Operation Erode The Civil Service"

(Washington, D.C.)—Calling the recent legislative proposals submitted by the Department of Defense (DoD) “Operation Erode the Civil Service,” Bobby L. Harnage, Sr., National President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), will express his strong opposition to the DoD’s proposed new personnel system at a hearing before the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Civil Service to be held Tuesday, April 29, at 10 a.m. in Room 2203 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

“These proposals would erase decades of social progress in employment standards, punish a workforce that has just made a crucial and extraordinary contribution to our victory in Operation Enduring Freedom and take away from Congress and affected employees the opportunity they now possess to have a voice in crafting and approving the personnel and other systems of DoD,” Harnage will emphasize.

Harnage will point out that each new Secretary of Defense would be free to create a wholly new pay and classification system for DoD. Any Secretary of Defense could eliminate the General Schedule and the Federal Wage System and replace them with new systems of his own design. Annual salary adjustments passed by the Congress would be gone. Periodic step increases for eligible workers who are performing satisfactorily would be gone. And supervisors, not Congress, would decide whether DoD employees get a raise and what the size of that raise would be.

“AFGE is at a loss to identify a serious or true rationale for this legislation,” Harnage will state. “DoD has been granted tremendous flexibility, and its has exercised its authorities to the maximum extent. The burden is on DoD to explain the need for this authority outside Congressional review.”

“Pentagon officials have argued their case as a plea for freedom—freedom to waive the laws and regulations that comprise the federal civil service—so that the nation’s security can be assured,” Harnage will add. “AFGE asks Members of the Subcommittee to consider that our opposition is a plea for freedom as well—freedom from political influence, freedom from cronyism, and freedom from the exercise of unchecked power.”

“History has shown that a concentration of power in the hands of one individual does not necessarily translate into success on the battlefield,” Harnage will conclude. “Our nation’s tradition of checks and balances on power has been tremendously successful in allowing our military the freedom to pursue our nation’s security interests at the same time that the public and the civilian workforce are allowed freedom from unfettered military authorities.”

Harnage will strongly urge the subcommittee to reject DoD’s proposals and the processes that led to is presentation and instead recommend that the Pentagon resume a dialogue with its unionized workforce to solve any real problems with the civil service infrastructure as it relates to our nation’s military mission.

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