Workers Celebrate Demise of Bush-era NSPS

“This is a great triumph for all federal workers,” said IAM Government Employees Department Director Frank Carelli, following news that congressional conferees removed the National Security Personnel System (NSPS) from the 2010 DOD Authorization bill. “The courage and perseverance of our members and the solidarity of the United Defense Workers Coalition (UDWC) helped put the final nail in the coffin of NSPS.”

NSPS grew out of a Bush Administration blueprint for neutering unions in the federal sector. In 2003, Congress had given the White House permission to “experiment” with personnel policies in the Department of Defense, but the scheme unveiled by Bush and then DOD Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ran far beyond what most lawmakers expected. NSPS would have virtually eliminated collective bargaining within DOD, threatened veterans’ preference and set up a pay system that invited cronyism and subjective judgment by management, completely eliminating employee input and transparency.

“Repealing NSPS clears away the toxic atmosphere that has been impeding positive exchanges between DOD Secretary Bill Gates and the unions representing DOD workers,” said Ron Ault, President of the Metal Trades Department of the AFL-CIO. “We look forward to new opportunities to introduce positive changes and to work together with DOD, Congress and the White House to do what needs to be done to make DOD more productive while safeguarding the rights of rank and file workers.”

While NSPS directly threatened collective bargaining rights for more than 750,000 DOD workers, the Bush administration often stated that they saw the NSPS as a model for crafting radical changes in all federal agency personnel practices.