(WASHINGTON)—The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is urging members of the Senate to act on legislation that would nullify portions of the Department of Defense’s National Security Personnel System (NSPS).
“The House last week passed its 2008 Defense Authorization Bill, which included language striking down major portions of the NSPS,” AFGE National President John Gage said. “The Senate must follow suit and pass a similar bill.
“In giving DoD the original authority to create a personnel system, Congress trusted the agency not to take advantage of that power,” Gage added. “However, DoD has proven that is ready, willing and able to abuse that authority. With their Authorization Bill, the House said that DoD must be stopped and now is the time for the Senate to do the same.
Arguing that this would require a legislative fix, “AFGE has long lobbied Congress to take action on NSPS,” Gage said. “We commend the House for repairing the damage inflicted by the department’s misguided personnel system and are confident the Senate will do the same.”
Ironically, the House bill passed only one day before the U.S. Court of Appeals reversed a previous District Court ruling that NSPS is illegal, potentially abusive and unjust.
In a sharply divided 2-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on May 18 upheld the DoD regulations. AFGE and its partners in the United DoD Workers Coalition (UDWC) stated that because of the strong dissent and previous court rulings, they would file a motion for an en banc (or full court) review. The deadline to file the motion is July 2, at which point the Court will have seven days to issue a mandate.
In February 2006, AFGE and the UDWC won a decisive ruling in the U.S. District Court against NSPS. Judge Emmet G. Sullivan’s ruling gutted NSPS provisions pertaining to labor relations, collective bargaining, independent third party review, adverse actions, and DoD’s proposed internal labor relations panel.
“AFGE has dedicated itself to protecting DoD employees from being subject to unfair working conditions,” Gage said. “While we are disappointed with today’s ruling, this is far from over. We have a couple of avenues for appeal, and in the meantime will continue with our aggressive legislative strategy. In the end, there is no doubt in our minds that DoD employees will be treated fairly and in a just manner.”