Jul 29, 2015

NDAA provisions would strip workers of due process

The following is a letter sent by NAGE National President David J. Holway to the leaders of both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees urging them to oppose anti-labor provisions within the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

 
July 28, 2015
 
The Honorable Mac Thornberry
Chairman
House Armed Services Committee
2216 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
 
The Honorable John McCain
Chairman
Senate Armed Services Committee
228 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Adam Smith
Ranking Member
House Armed Services Committee
2216 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Jack Reed
Ranking Member
Senate Armed Services Committee
228 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
 
Dear Chairmen and Ranking Members:
As National President of the National Association of Government Employees, I urge you to strike sections 1101, 1102, and 1103 of the Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2016 from the final conference agreement. These provisions would negatively affect Department of Defense civilian employees by undermining the principles established through the merit system, the preference of our veterans, and their constitutionally protected due process rights.
Some of these provisions would have widespread, devastating effects on the civilian workforce: doubling the length of time a new employee can be fired at will by the department, denying certain pay raises to employees without regard to their performance, and minimizing tenure when determining which employees are fired during a reduction-in-force.
Section 1101 would extend the probationary period for civilian employees and it would allow military departments to extend the probationary period indefinitely.
The current one-year probationary period for civilian employees provides ample time for managers to evaluate the ability of an employee to perform his or her job satisfactorily. Rather than extend the probationary period, if managers are having difficulty evaluating employee performance, the solution is to focus on defining performance measures and training managers on how to appropriately assess an employee’s performance. Allowing a probationary period to extend beyond the first year of employment blocks civil servants from accessing the full benefits and protections of federal employment and therefore undermines the merit-based system that has been in place for decades. Furthermore, without the aforementioned protections in place, the provision makes it easier for a manager to retaliate against whistleblowers and allows government inefficiency to in fact perpetuate.
Section 1102 would delay step increases within an employee’s grade if their work quality is unacceptable. Given that the current law already allows agencies to do this, Section 1102 is unnecessary and superfluous.
Section 1103 would force agencies to only consider performance as a factor when implementing Reductions in Force. We believe all four factors currently considered by law – performance, tenure, veteran’s status, and length of service – are significant and should be preserved as they are.
Given these concerns, we respectfully request that the conference committee exclude these provisions from any conference agreement on the NDAA. Thank you for your consideration.
 
Sincerely,
 
David J. Holway
National President
National Association of Government Employees
 

The American Labor Movement has consistently demonstrated its devotion to the public interest. It is, and has been, good for all America. - John F. Kennedy
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