June 23, 2008
Department of Defense
Office of Personnel Management
5 CFR Part 9901
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 106: Relationship to other provisions
Subpart C – Pay and Pay Administration
Section 344 – Other performance payments
Section 345 – Accelerated Compensation for Developmental Positions (ACDP)
Section 353 – Setting pay upon reassignment
Section 371 – Conversion into NSPS
Section 372 – Conversion out of NSPS
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.
Director of Government Employees, IAMAW