WASHINGTON – Lawmakers should reject proposals to cut the pay and benefits of veterans, military spouses and others who work at Department of Defense commissaries, the American Federation of Government Employees said in testimony submitted to a congressional panel.
A consulting group hired by the Pentagon has recommended cutting wages, health insurance and retirement benefits for the more than 15,000 federal employees who work for the Defense Commissary Agency. DeCA provides discounted groceries and household goods to current and retired military families through more than 250 commissaries around the world.
Many of the commissary’s employees are veterans or spouses of active-duty service members and would be directly harmed by this cost-cutting plan.
“No DeCA employee is living large on her modest paycheck. In fact, many DeCA employees are veterans and military spouses whose families depend on their jobs,” AFGE said in testimony submitted for the record Jan. 13 before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel.
The proposal from the Boston Consulting Group would convert DeCA employees from the General Schedule pay and benefits system to non-appropriated fund status. This means employees would lose up to one-fourth of their pay, lose their retirement benefits, have to pay significantly more for health insurance, and could be more easily fired or have their jobs privatized.
AFGE, who was not invited to appear at the subcommittee hearing, said Congress should reject proposals that would decimate the substantial benefit that commissaries provide to military families.