Defense and Homeland Security Unions Warn of Disastrous Consequences from Rush to Remake Federal Government
(Washington)—Hundreds of federal employees turned out on Capitol Hill to protest proposed changes to personnel systems throughout the federal government, saying that the ability of federal agencies to succeed at their missions could be severely hampered by the changes. Many of the workers in attendance were from the departments of Defense and Homeland Security, which have been in the process of developing entirely new personnel systems for over a year. Just recently, some members of Congress have proposed legislation that would implement similar personnel changes in all federal agencies.
"These bogus personnel changes will destroy morale and undermine public servants throughout the federal government by injecting politics into the federal workplace, stripping workers of their whistleblower protections, and eliminating accountability over federal spending on salaries and raises," said John Gage, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). "Taxpayers should be outraged that the same courageous Americans who protect our homeland, support our troops, and care for our veterans are being insulted and slapped around by the federal government."
In a show of solidarity, several notable Washington area officials joined the rally:
John Gage, National President, AFGE Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) Rep. Jay Inslee, (D-WA) Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Ron Ault, President, AFL-CIO Metal Trades Department Dwight Bowman, National Vice President, AFGE Andrea Brooks, National Vice President for Women's and Fair Practices, AFGE David Holway, President, NAGE Gregory Junemann, President, IFPTE Gerald McEntee, President, AFSCME
The rally was organized by the United DoD Workers Coalition (UDWC), an alliance of labor unions representing civilian defense workers. AFGE, a member of UDWC, helped to coordinate the travel of hundreds of federal employees to come to Washington to participate in the rally.
The proposed personnel changes focus on ending the Civil Service and the GS pay scale system, severely curtailing the role of independent arbiters and unions in employee-management relations, and granting supervisors wide latitude over personnel decisions to a degree not seen for over one hundred years. AFGE points out that the proposed changes resemble the spoils system of the 19th century, which resulted in widespread corruption throughout the federal government. It was a desire to remedy the failings and corruption of the spoils system that gave rise to the Civil Service in the mid to late 1800s.
"The proposed systems are nothing new. Like the spoils system, these proposals would reward loyalty to supervisors over dedication to mission. That could endanger our national security," said Gage.
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.