(WASHINGTON) – Civilian employees of the Department of Defense are warning that a newly proposed personnel system for DoD could devastate morale on U.S. military installations around the globe. The plan, published in the Federal Register on Monday, is officially called the National Security Personnel System (NSPS). Leaders of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), who represent civilian workers within DoD, cautioned against a hasty timetable to implement NSPS.
“In the military, morale is crucial to mission success and can make the difference between living and dying,” said Don Hale, a marine corps veteran and a current civilian defense employee at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Hale said that the workplace environment and morale on military installations would be impacted adversely by NSPS. He explained that because many civilian defense employees work along side military personnel, the uniformed military would also be impacted by a low morale work environment. The proposed regulations revoke most due process rights (rendering whistleblower protections moot), allow supervisors to punish employees in their paychecks, create a so-called “pay-for-performance” system that pits employees against each other for pay increases, and end all meaningful collective bargaining.
In the case of a reduction in force (RIF), a one-year employee with an “outstanding” rating would be retained over a 20-year employee with an “excellent” rating. When disciplinary actions are appealed to either the Merit Systems Protection Board or an arbitrator, neither would be able to substitute a lesser penalty unless the penalty was “wholly unjustifiable,” an impossible standard to overcome. For some alleged offenses, even the manager proposing the discipline would not be able to propose anything short of removal.
“When an employer has the power to mess with people’s pay and work schedules arbitrarily, workforce morale will suffer,” said Hale. “We’ve got to be absolutely sure we make every effort to support our troops. We must not undermine our efforts in these trying times by lowering the morale of those American who support our troops every day on the job.”
DoD Workers will be represented in lawsuit, soon to be filed in federal court, challenging the new work rules on a statutory basis. AFGE, together with other unions including the Association of Civilian Technicians (ACT), International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), Laborers International Union (LIU), Metal Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, National Association of Government Employees (NAGE), National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE), and United Power Trades Organization (UPTO) will file the lawsuit.
The American Federation of Government Employees is the largest federal employee union, representing 600,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.