May 09, 2003
Diane Witiak
(202) 639-6419

Returning To The Days Of Yesteryear

(Washington, D.C.)—“Chair Tom Davis and the House of Representatives have taken a step closer to returning to the days of yesteryear when federal employees had no rights and management ruled with an iron fist,” stated AFGE National President Bobby L. Harnage, Sr., following passage by the House Government Reform Committee of H.R. 1836.

Introduced by Rep. Davis and rushed through the House Government Reform Committee, H.R. 1836—the Civil Service and National Security Personnel Improvement Act—would allow the Department of Defense (DoD) to create a completely new personnel system without oversight by Congress, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), or employee representatives.

The legislation would eliminate the current system of pay and give the Defense Secretary a blank check in how it compensates employees. Congress would no longer be involved in the process.

No longer would DoD have to adhere to the concept of “equal pay for equal work.” DoD jobs that are graded similarly now could be treated much differently, leading to serious increases in federal pay discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity or gender. The legislation also waives current provisions for premium pay, overtime, compensatory time, Sunday and holiday pay, hazardous duty pay, and firefighters pay.

Congressman Davis introduced the bill April 29; a subcommittee hearing was held the same day; his full Committee held a hearing on May 6; and on May 7 the bill was passed out of his Committee so it could be included in the Defense Authorization bill as early as next week.

“Tom Davis has betrayed federal employees by taking it upon himself to ‘fast track’ this legislation on behalf of the Administration,” Harnage added. “Both the Administration and Davis know this bill could not withstand serious scrutiny once the public sees that federal employees have again been made second class citizens. With the passage of this legislation, Congress will have created yet another pork barrel of waste, fraud and abuse and returned the civil service to the days of yesteryear when a patronage system ruled the land.”

“If Congress cared about Defense employees, they would require DoD to submit its proposals for a new system to Congress, hold hearings, and garner input from employees and others,” Harnage concluded. “The House of Representatives should not consider a bill of this magnitude on such an expedited basis and Congress should not abrogate its oversight responsibilities and abandon some 700,000 federal employees by legislating away their basic rights.”

AFGE is the largest federal employee union, representing some 600,000 government workers nationwide. AFGE represents over 200,000 dedicated employees working for the Department of Defense.

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