(WASHINGTON) - AFGE and other representatives of the 40 Department of Defense unions held a news conference to protest the soon-to-be-released rules that will completely replace the existing DoD personnel system. The conference begun at 9:45 a.m, on Tuesday, February 8, followed by a rally that led defense workers to march on Capitol Hill.
What: Joint DOD Union News Conference and Rally
Where: Hyatt Regency Hotel
400 New Jersey Avenue, Washington, DC
When: Tuesday, February 8, 9:45 a.m.
Rally to follow, beginning at approximately 10:30 a.m.
Who: John Gage, National President, American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE)
John Sweeney, President, AFL-CIO
Ron Ault, President, AFL-CIO Metal Trades Department
Gregory Junemann, President, Int'l Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers
David Holway, National President, National Association of Government Employees
Richard Brown, National President, National Federation of Federal Employees
The Department of Defense, following the lead of the Department of Homeland Security, is developing a new personnel system, from the ground up, for the agency's seven hundred thousand civilian employees. The new system will completely replace the civil service system and will redefine pay, appeal rights, and collective bargaining, all under the guise of "management flexibility". The new system is the result of legislation passed by Congress late in 2003, at the request of the Bush Administration, authorizing the Secretary of Defense to make the changes. An initial outline of proposals was released in February of 2004 and met by widespread criticism from employees and their unions. Despite attempts on the part of DOD to put a more positive spin on the proposed changes and process by which they are being developed, defense workers remain skeptical.
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"Despite the code words and false rationales provided by DOD, these new regulations will have a chilling effect on the courageous employees who would otherwise come forward to blow the whistle on government corruption and wrongdoing," said Gage. "We anticipate the new personnel system will provide DOD with every means to put the squeeze on employees, enabling the agency to mess around with pay, work schedules, leave, and evaluations, without any meaningful appeal rights."
The proposed regulations are anticipated to be released in the near future. Once unveiled, a 60-day consultative period with the unions representing DOD employees begins. The coalition plans to file a lawsuit in response.
Last year, defense workers organized town hall meetings and demonstrations against the proposed changes. DOD employees conducted events on dozens of sites, including Fort Hood (Tex.), Davis Monthan AFB (Ariz.), Warner Robins AFB (Ga.), Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (N.H.), Redstone Arsenal (Ala.), Norfolk and Dover AFB (Del.).
The press conference and march will be held in conjunction with the AFGE 2005 Legislative and Grassroots Mobilizing Conference, which brings over 600 AFGE activists to Washington. The Conference will be held February 6-10, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.