The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Pentagon Readies Personnel Rule Changes

by Brendan Coyne

Oct. 31, 2005 – Despite court findings barring a similar plan and threats of a new lawsuit, the Pentagon last week officially announced it would implement a new personnel system that cuts worker input. The plan would affect about 650,000 employees, the majority belonging to labor unions vehemently opposed to the new rules.

Fashioned jointly by the Defense Department and the Office of Personnel Management, the federal government’s human-resources arm, the new National Security Personnel System closely parallels Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plans struck down by a federal court twice this year for failing to protect workers’ rights.

In nixing the rules last August, US District Court Judge Rosemary M. Collyer said the DHS system "failed at one of its basic requirements: it does not ensure collective bargaining rights." Early this month, Collyer denied an administration request to let the system be put in place and reiterated her stance that the Department must negotiate changes with unions.

The Pentagon plans call for dramatic transformation of the "way [the Department of Defense] leads and manages its people who develop, acquire and maintain our nation’s defense capability," according to a DoD statement revealing the official proposal. Military officials maintain that the rules were developed with employee input, a stance labor unions refute.

"Nothing in these new work rules can change the fact that the Pentagon has violated the law in moving ahead with a system configured without the ‘meaningful collaboration’ with the unions that Congress has demanded," American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) President John Gage said Wednesday in a statement. "We expressed our concerns to DoD and OPM representatives on five key issues, only to be told that the administration had already arrived at its own position, essentially refusing to even discuss, in any meaningful way, these issues of great importance to civilian workers in the Department of Defense."

Among provisions called for in the proposed changes, which were released by the Pentagon and published in the Federal Register last week, are regulations covering basic issues of pay, staffing, job classification and employee-employer interactions.

AFGE lawyer J. Ward Morrow told the union expects to file a lawsuit to stop the rule changes.

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Brendan Coyne is a contributing journalist.

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