WASHINGTON, D.C.—In announcing its decision to implement new and radical personnel regulations on August 1st, the Department of Homeland Security is rushing to put into practice rules whose legality have yet to be established. That’s what the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) alleges in a suit filed, together with four other unions, in federal court this week. The unions are requesting a preliminary injunction that would bar DHS from moving ahead with the new rules until the federal court rules on a case, filed earlier this year by the unions, which challenges the legality of the new personnel system.
“It’s hard to see how these new regulations will lead to greater security for the American people,” said AFGE National President John Gage. “If anything, the chaos they will create in an already demoralized workforce bode ill for the security of the homeland.”
In its Federal Human Capital Survey, the Office of Personnel Management found DHS workers to be the most dissatisfied among federal workers, citing poor leadership and confusing policies implemented by the agency’s upper management. More than half of DHS respondents disagreed with the statement that leaders motivate them and commit them to their jobs.
“These new regulations are nothing more than a blatant and illegal power grab by the Administration,” Gage said. “They run far afield of the authority granted by Congress for the creation of a new, national-security-driven personnel system.
“For instance,” Gage continued, “these regulations eliminate all meaningful collective bargaining—an obvious transgression of the Homeland Security Act, the legislation that created the Homeland Security Department. In that legislation, Congress called upon DHS to guarantee the collective bargaining rights of its employees.
“This new power-grab personnel system isn’t just a bad deal for homeland security workers,” Gage explained, “it’s a bad deal for the American taxpayer. Without protected rights to due process, the ability of DHS employees to act as watchdogs within their agencies is greatly curtailed. A room-darkening shade is being pulled on the activities of the federal government.”