The IAM Submits Comments and a Scathing Review of NSPS Proposed Regulations

June 23, 2008

Department of Defense
Office of Personnel Management
5 CFR Part 9901
RIN 3206-AL62
Docket Number NSPS-OPM-2008-0081

National Security Personnel System

Comments on Proposed Rule published May 22, 2008, Submitted by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW)

It is with great reluctance that the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers choose to respond to the Proposed Rule.  After participating in the “pre-collaboration” meetings and the “Meet and Confer” process of NSPS Part I the IAMAW has learned that for the most part providing substantive input to this process and to the Department of Defense (DOD) is an exercise in futility.  DOD’s tendency then was to glean only the parts that they deemed important to them and disregard any that were of value to federal employees and their exclusive representatives.   

Today, it is even more apparent to the IAMAW that a contemporary workforce has never been the goal of the Department of Defense under NSPS.  Rather, the primary mission of the Department of Defense is to quash any rights federal employees might have through the suppression of their unions and the collective bargaining process. 

To illustrate this, we point out a letter sent to the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld dated March 9, 2004, by the Director of OPM Kay Cole James.  Under the proposed regulations at that time, because DOD would have the ability to abrogate language in collective bargaining agreements through the use of “implementing issuances”; Ms. James advised Secretary Rumsfeld to write the regulations as broad as possible in order to avoid the scrutiny of “public comment, collaboration with unions or OPM approval.” 

At present under section 1106 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 Congress restored collective bargaining rights under 5 U.S.C. Chapter 71.  Under this scenario because the Department of Defense does not have the authority to establish a labor relations system that they themselves can manipulate, it behooves them to write regulations as narrowly as possible in order to once again avoid the collective bargaining process and diminish the rights of federal workers. 

In the opinion of the IAMAW the following further exemplifies our position. 

General Provisions – Subpart A

Section 102: Eligibility and coverage

  • Section 9901.102(a)Delete the last sentence of subsection (a).  The IAMAW objects to this last sentence, as there is no statutory authority in the NSPS law that allows DoD to apply NSPS to employees covered by anything other than the waivable or modifiable chapters of Title 5.  This is an unlawful overreach on the part of DoD.
  • Section 9901.102(b)Amend the last sentence to conform to Chapter 71 requirements requiring notice in advance to labor organizations regarding the extension of NSPS coverage to specific categories of NSPS employees.
  • Section 9901.102(f)Remove this section in its entirety, as the NSPS statute has not provided this authority to the Secretary.

Section 106: Relationship to other provisions

  • Section 106(a)(2)Delete the last sentence in this subsection because it purports to offer greater deference to these regulations than is normally accorded or provided by law.

Subpart C – Pay and Pay Administration

Section 344 – Other performance payments

  • The IAMAW objects to the failure in this section to adequately protect our unions’ rights to bargain over these issues.  Specify the source of funds for these payments, and whether DoD can lower the amount of funds for the pay pools for performance payouts for other employees.  Include language that ensures that the EPR and OAR will not be used to preference certain workers over others. 

Section 345 – Accelerated Compensation for Developmental Positions (ACDP)

  • The IAMAW supports the provision expanding the types of workers that are eligible for ACDP payments.
  • Amend this provision to include language that ensures the unions’ ability to collectively bargain this issue.  The IAMAW   objects to the lack of rules governing the advancement of employees.  The IAMAW further objects to the lack of language ensuring the unions’ ability to bargain procedures and appropriate arrangements governing developmental positions in general and ACDPs in particular.

Section 353 – Setting pay upon reassignment

  • Amend this provision to include language that ensures the unions’ ability to collectively bargain this issue.  The IAMAW objects to the lack of language ensuring the unions’ ability to bargain assignments, reassignments, hiring, competitive procedures, and notice to employees for promotion opportunities in this section. 

Section 371 – Conversion into NSPS

  • The IAMAW supports the provision in this section that bars pay reduction as a result of conversion to NSPS.

Section 372 – Conversion out of NSPS

  • The IAMAW strongly supports provisions to move workers out of the flawed NSPS system and back into the GS system. 

The Department of Defense was given the authority to develop a personnel system that was transparent and retained the core values of civil service and merit systems principles.  The only things transparent are the draconian measures that DOD is willing to impose on its workforce.    

In our estimation, DOD has once again shown its contempt for the federal workforce, the labor unions that represent them and ultimately the rule of law and Congress.  The NSPS proposed regulations are laden with safe foxholes for the Department of Defense and OPM and landmines for federal employees and their exclusive representatives.

By submitting these comments the IAMAW does not waive any collective bargaining or legal rights entitled to its bargaining unit members in dealing with the effects of NSPS. 

Respectfully submitted,


Frank Carelli
Director of Government Employees, IAMAW