(WASHINGTON)—The American Federation of Government Employees today said that recent calls by former top generals for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to resign validate AFGE’s recent “no confidence” vote.
AFGE’s Defense Conference (DEFCON), a coalition of AFGE union locals representing Department of Defense (DoD) employees, voted “no confidence” in Rumsfeld on March 7. That vote was in direct response to a decision by DoD to appeal a federal judge’s ruling against Rumsfeld over new personnel regulations, known as the National Security Personnel System (NSPS).
“Clearly Defense Secretary Rumsfeld has lost the confidence of the civilian defense workforce, and in light of recent news reports and commentaries, it appears he has lost the confidence of military leaders and soldiers as well,” said DEFCON Chair Don Hale. “For the sake of military morale and effectiveness, it is time for Rumsfeld to go.”
AFGE long has argued that NSPS would sabotage worker morale by inviting abuse of management authority and permitting favoritism through subjective rules on promotions and pay. AFGE, as part of the United DoD Workers Coalition, brought suit against NSPS in federal court last year. On Feb. 27 AFGE and the UDWC won a stay against the new work rules when Federal Judge Emmet G. Sullivan prohibited DoD from implementing major parts of NSPS. Sullivan said NSPS eviscerated collective bargaining rights, failed to provide employees with a fair way to appeal disciplinary actions, and did not provide for an independent third-party review of labor relations rulings.
NSPS was designed to cover more than 700,000 civilian DoD employees. Portions of the new rules not blocked by Judge Sullivan’s decision pertain to a plan to replace the objective General Schedule pay system with subjective rules that AFGE fears will worsen employee attitudes toward the DoD leadership and scuttle morale.
“As a former Marine, I understand that ego and pride must not get in the way of national interests and mission effectiveness,” said Hale. “Sometimes situations get so bad that the only honorable thing to do is step aside so that someone else can put things back in order. The time to step aside has come for Rumsfeld.”