NORFOLK, Va. – The American Federation of Government Employees will hold a joint press conference on Thursday, April 15, at 3:30 p.m., with the AFL-CIO's Metal Trades Department to ask Senator John Warner to halt the proposed personnel system for the Department of Defense. Following the press conference, defense workers will march to Senator Warner's office to meet with his staff and register their concerns.
"AFGE is hopeful Senator Warner will use his authority, as Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, to stop the implementation of the horrendous proposals DoD has developed," said AFGE National President John Gage. "Senator Warner could insist that DoD work with the elected representatives of employees to develop a personnel system that fosters a vibrant management-union relationship," Gage added.
Late last year Congress passed legislation at the request of the Bush Administration authorizing the Secretary of Defense to make sweeping changes to the DoD personnel system. The law grants the Secretary of Defense new authority in many areas including the civil service system, pay, appeal rights, and collective bargaining agreements.
When DoD unveiled an outline of its intentions in February, the unions representing defense workers were stunned. The DoD outline includes replacing collective bargaining with a non-binding consultative process and ending the right of workers to appeal to an impartial third party. AFGE argues that DoD overstepped its authority both on the specifics of its proposal and the process by which the proposals were developed.
AFGE is the nation's largest federal employee union representing 600,000 federal and D.C. government workers nationwide and overseas. The AFL-CIO Metal Trades Department is an umbrella organization representing a large number of workers on defense facilities.
Norfolk joins a list of military installations across the country where defense workers have organized events around the proposed changes to the DoD personnel system. Defense workers have held rallies and town hall meetings to express their concerns at facilities including Davis Monthan AFB (Ariz.), Warner Robins AFB (Ga.), Redstone Arsenal (Ala.), Dover AFB (Del.), Fort Hood (Tex.), Rock Island Arsenal (Ill.), and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (N.H.).