Unions commend NSPS changes but say it still needs work

Labor unions that represent Defense Department employees applauded recent changes in the law governing the National Security Personnel System but cautioned that NSPS is still flawed.

“We believe these changes greatly improve the personnel system over its previous form, but NSPS is still far from perfect in our opinion,” said Richard Brown, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees. “But at least some common sense has been restored.”

Jan. 28, President Bush  signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, which includes language restoring collective-bargaining rights and appeal rights for DOD workers under NSPS. It also exempts the department’s blue-collar workers from NSPS.

Although the law left in place DOD’s authority to implement a performance-based system, it guarantees that NSPS employees with satisfactory ratings will receive 60 percent of the annual pay raise given to most federal workers under the General Schedule pay system. Only the remaining 40 percent of the pay adjustment would go toward performance pay.

Officials at the American Federation of Government Employees said the adjustments in the law will assure fairness for employees but contended that NSPS is still seriously flawed. They said AFGE “will continue its efforts to see that the NSPS pay system is properly reformed.”

Those efforts likely won’t include pursuing remedies through the legal system. AFGE officials said Jan. 29 that the union will drop its current lawsuit against DOD over NSPS  because “the employee rights issues have been effectively corrected in the new legislation.” Earlier this month, AFGE petitioned the Supreme Court to hear its case after setbacks in lower federal courts.

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