Unions riled by Pentagon

Unions representing 100,000 Defense Department workers withdrew from talks related to the new National Security Personnel System (NSPS) while another union representing 300,000 employees asked the Pentagon to delay the latest round of base closures for at least two years.

Richard Brown, national president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, said the union has withdrawn from "meet and confer" sessions on NSPS with DOD and the Office of Personnel Management. Brown described the process as a sham.

"DOD had a statutory obligation to collaborate with the unions, but they refused to have meaningful discussions about the most important issues," Brown said. "In our minds, meet and confer has not even begun."

Other unions pulling out of the talks are: the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the International Association of Fire Fighters, the National Association of Government Employees, and the Metal Trades Department of the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations.

Forty-three unions represent DOD workers. The Pentagon and OPM will continue talks with unions that choose to participate. "We remain committed to the process and to working with the unions as we identify some areas of common ground," Mary Lacey, program executive officer for NSPS, said in a statement.

On May 16, Pentagon officials presented numerous recommended changes to the proposed regulations based on their comments and discussions with the unions, Lacey said.

Meanwhile, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) urged DOD on May 13 to delay base closures recommended by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC).

With U.S. forces engaged in both Iraq and Afghanistan, "this is not the time to scale back and close military installations that provide valuable services and equipment," said John Gage, president of AFGE, which represents 300,000 DOD employees.

Gage said the union intends "to make sure that this BRAC round is not used as a backdoor means of privatization and outsourcing."

AFGE, joined by nine other unions, filed a lawsuit in February to delay establishment of NSPS. However, AFGE remains in the talks currently going on.


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