May 8, 2003

The Republican-dominated House Government Reform Committee approved legislation late Wednesday night that would create a completely new civilian personnel system at the Department of Defense (DoD) by eviscerating the current Federal civil service protections for DoD employees contained in Title 5 of the United States Code.

The legislation (H.R. 1836), which was approved by a 21-15 party-line vote, would let DoD

pay system, the annual congressionally-mandated pay increases, and the within-grade step increases currently provided to DoD employees who have performed at an acceptable level. Instead, H.R. 1836 would allow DoD to put employees into a pay-banding system that allows supervisors to decide whether and by how much individual employees' pay will be adjusted.

1836 therefore would allow DoD to not provide overtime pay, compensatory time off, "night, standby, irregular, and hazardous duty differential" pay, availability pay for criminal investigators, pay for firefighters, Sunday and holiday work pay, etc.

classification system that requires different pay levels for different jobs be based on the standard of "equal pay for substantially equal work." Instead, H.R. 1836 would allow DoD to disregard that standard, resulting in jobs which are graded similarly now being treated completely differently after the new personnel system is in place. This is particularly important because the current standard goes a long way toward preventing federal pay discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, or gender.

employees' right to due process and ability to appeal with regard to disciplinary actions. Instead, H.R. 1836 would allow DoD to establish a much weaker, less protective appeals process for employees.

organize into unions and bargain collectively with management over some employment conditions. Instead, H.R. 1836 would allow DoD to eliminate collective bargaining rights for employees or create a labor-management system tilted even more in favor of management.

At the same time, the Republican majority in the House Government Reform Committee rejected various AFGE-supported, pro-federal employee amendments. The House Government Reform Committee:

Stephen Lynch (D-MA) to restore the collective bargaining rights of chapter 71 of Title 5.

Holmes Norton (D-DC) to restore the due process and appeal rights of chapters 43, 75, and 77 of Title 5.

Van Hollen (D-MD) to ensure that DoD civilian employees continue to receive the annual pay increase that is passed by Congress and which has been linked to the military across-the-board pay increase for 18 of the last 21 years.

TN) to apply the new civilian personnel system created by DoD to managers and supervisors only. Since the Republican majority insisted on moving a bill of this magnitude on such an expedited basis, it was only prudent to restrict the application of these sweeping changes to managers and supervisors. Doing so would allow DoD to begin to implement the flexibilities it desires, but at the same time protect the non-supervisory employees from these changes until there has been an adequate evaluation of the success or failure of their application to managers and supervisors.

H.R. 1836 now goes to the House Armed Services Committee for consideration. This legislation is expected to be included in the House version of the FY 2004 defense authorization bill. That defense authorization bill is expected to be considered by the full House in approximately two weeks.