Federal Judge Guts Labor Relations and Employee Appeal Provisions of Personnel System
WASHINGTON—The American Federation of Government Employees today won a decisive ruling in U.S. District Court against the Department of Defense’s proposed personnel rules, the National Security Personnel System. Judge Emmet G. Sullivan’s ruling guts NSPS provisions pertaining to labor relations, collective bargaining, independent third party review, adverse actions, and DoD’s proposed internal labor relations panel, the National Security Labor Relations Board. The ruling on AFGE v. Rumsfeld—05-2183 (D.D.C. February 27, 2006)—effectively declares illegal major portions of NSPS.
AFGE jointly filed the lawsuit with a coalition of unions representing civilian defense workers, the United DoD Workers Coalition, in February 2005. AFGE Assistant General Counsel Joe Goldberg argued before Judge Sullivan on January 24, along with two attorneys representing other member unions of the UDWC.
“The Department of Defense was granted certain latitude to develop a new personnel system, and it still violated the law by over reaching,” said Goldberg. “Judge Sullivan’s ruling eviscerates the core of NSPS, leaving but a hollow shell of provisions that simply cannot stand on their own.”
Judge Sullivan wrote that “the new rule fails to ensure that employees can bargain collectively…the NSLRB does not meet Congress’ requirement for ‘independent third party review’ of labor relations decisions and…the process for appealing adverse actions fails to provide employees with ‘fair treatment,’ as required by Congress.”
“Ironically Judge Sullivan’s ruling affirms AFGE’s position on the one point we didn’t win, whether or not DoD engaged unions in meaningful discussions of the proposed rules. Had DoD engaged in a meaningful meet and confer process, the unions could have helped DoD avoid this stinging defeat in the courts,” said Goldberg.
NSPS originally was scheduled to go into effect in the spring of 2005, but implementation was postponed several times because of AFGE challenges. Today’s ruling follows a decision last year by U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer that blocked implementation of similar personnel proposals for the Department of Homeland Security. NSPS would impact the Defense Department’s more than 700,000 civilian employees.
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. For more information, please visit www.afge.org.