Another AFGE Victory as DHS Drops Appeal in Personnel System Lawsuit
(WASHINGTON)—The Department of Homeland Security today said it would not appeal a court decision that blocked the labor relations portion of its personnel system, known as MaxHR.
“This is the smartest thing DHS has done in quite some time,” American Federation of Government Employees General Counsel Mark Roth said. “DHS management was in a battle they knew they couldn’t win. The decision not to appeal was the right thing to do for management, and more importantly for DHS employees.
AFGE and four other unions had challenged the personnel system on the basis that it was unconstitutional, among other issues. AFGE, the largest federal union in the coalition, also represents the largest constituency of Homeland Security employees across the nation.
“When it comes to DHS employees, AFGE can honestly say that it know what’s best,” Roth said. “We are the nation’s homeland security union. DHS employees put their trust in AFGE, and with this win, we haven’t let them down.
“AFGE looks forward to working with DHS on retooling this portion of MaxHR,” Roth added. “We are hopeful DHS management will take its lesson learned and this time will be more receptive to our input.”
In August 2005, Judge Rosemary M. Collyer of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued an injunction that forbade DHS from implementing the labor-relations portion of MaxHR. Earlier this year, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals sustained and expanded an injunction of the District Court that essentially gutted the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) personnel regulations.
The Court of Appeals (of which three of the four judges were Republican) stated that “DHS’s Final Rule defies the plain language of the [Homeland Security] Act, because it renders “collective bargaining” meaningless; and it is utterly unreasonable and thus impermissible, because it makes no sense on its own terms.”
AFGE also has filed a lawsuit regarding the Department of Defense’s National Security Personnel Regulations (NSPS). “We are confident that DoD ultimately will follow DHS’ lead,” Roth said. “The NSPS rulings thus far have gone the way of the DHS rulings, so DoD would be smart to end this now.”
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 700,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.