FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE    Contact: Emily Ryan or Michael Victorian at (202) 639-6419

May 18, 2007



DoD’s Reign of Abuse Must Come to an End

(WASHINGTON)—The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) today urged members of the Senate to act on legislation that would nullify portions of the Department of Defense’s National Security Personnel System (NSPS).

'The House yesterday passed its 2008 Defense Authorization Bill, which included language striking down major portions of the NSPS,” AFGE National President John Gage said. 'The Senate must follow suit and pass a similar bill.

'In giving DoD the original authority to create a personnel system, Congress trusted the agency not to take advantage of that power,” Gage added. 'However, DoD has proven that is ready, willing and able to abuse that authority. With yesterday’s bill, the House said that DoD must be stopped and now is the time for the Senate to do the same.

Arguing that this would require a legislative fix, 'AFGE has long lobbied Congress to take action on NSPS,” Gage said. 'We commend the House for repairing the damage inflicted by the department’s misguided personnel system and are confident the Senate will do the same.”

Ironically, the House bill passed only one day before the U.S. Court of Appeals reversed a previous District Court ruling that NSPS is illegal, potentially abusive and unjust.

In a sharply divided 2-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit today upheld the DoD regulations. AFGE stated that because of the strong dissent and previous court rulings, it believed an en banc (or full court) review would be appropriate.

In February 2006, AFGE and its partners in the United DoD Workers Coalition won a decisive ruling in the U.S. District Court against NSPS. Judge Emmet G. Sullivan’s ruling gutted NSPS provisions pertaining to labor relations, collective bargaining, independent third party review, adverse actions, and DoD’s proposed internal labor relations panel.

'AFGE has dedicated itself to protecting DoD employees from being subject to unfair working conditions,” Gage said. 'While we are disappointed with today’s ruling, this is far from over. We have a couple of avenues for appeal, and in the meantime will continue with our aggressive legislative strategy. In the end, there is no doubt in our minds that DoD employees will be treated fairly and in a just manner.”


AFGE is the largest federal employee union representing 600,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia, including some 300,000 in the Department of Defense.

Talking Points

We’re not happy with the results, but we are not surprised. The ruling was more indicative of the ruling judge’s political ideology than sound law.

We have always felt that NSPS required a legislative remedy:

The two to one decision was widely divergent in its judicial rulings representing two politically diametrical world views.

Six Federal Judges from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit have ruled in support of repealing the regulation in DoD and DHS while only two have found a legal basis for DoD’s actions.

Today’s court ruling is disappointing, but the legal fight is not over. Even the court referred to the law as a complicated puzzle. There are additional avenues of appeal. We will select the best course of action.

The NSPS personnel system destabilizes the Department of Defense at a time when our country’s men and women serving abroad need its support the most.

DoD cannot be trusted:

We have opposed the law since its legislation on the grounds that DoD could not be trusted to ensure civilian employee’s labor rights.

The DoD’s argument brought forth in this case revealed their nefarious ambitions to eliminate civilian workers rights to collective bargaining an element necessary for fair due process.

It merely legitimizes DoD’s abuse of its power, displaying the importance and urgency of Congressional action. It said that it was okay for DoD to curtail collective bargaining.

We Plan to Act with Congress to Continue to the Fight to Repeal NSPS

The timing of today’s ruling is ironic and compelling. The House has already expressed the need for checks and balances in government labor relations in its bipartisan vote striking down DoD’s NSPS personnel system.

The House of Representatives voted yesterday in 397 to 27 vote to dismantle the DoD’s NSPS personnel system. Now, we urge the Senate to stand with DoD civilian employees and protect them from being subjected to unfair working conditions.

Next Steps:

AFGE along with its partners in the United DoD workers coalition will hold a press conference at AFGE headquarters on Monday at 2:00 pm to discuss further legal and legislative action.

There are additional opportunities for appeal. The widely divergent judicial rulings make reconsideration a viable and attraction option. We are considering filing a Request for Reconsideration on En Banc in which we will petition the Court of Appeals to revisit the decision.