Federal Employee Unions Sue Over Defense Personnel Reform: Declare "Meaningful Discussions" Never Took Place

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Contact:  Randy Erwin   (202) 216-4451 (office)   (202) 898-1866 (fax)  


Washington, DC – Today, a coalition of nine labor unions, collectively representing over 300,000 employees at the United States Department of Defense (DoD), filed suit against the Department and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) for failing to "afford employee representatives and management the opportunity to have meaningful discussions concerning the development of a new system," as was required by Congress. 


Union officials held a press conference outside of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, where the lawsuit was officially filed, to make clear the grounds for the suit.


"The National Security Personnel System goes beyond being unfair to employees and bad for the defense of our nation, it is also unequivocally illegal," said John M. Paolino, Secretary/Treasurer of the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE).


Union representatives claim DoD and OPM officials were in violation of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004, when they held "secret working groups" that denied employee representatives input into the personnel system overhaul.


The facts of the lawsuit read: "While the secret groups developed the labor relations system behind closed doors, [DoD and OPM] gave [union representatives] "concept papers" and engaged [union representatives] in meaningless discussions, in which [DoD and OPM] presented no proposals.  [DoD and OPM] did not claim that these papers and discussions were the "meaningful discussions" required by [the law]; rather, they expressly said that these papers were not proposals and that the discussions were "pre-statutory.'"


"Today, we call on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to uphold the intent of the law, and send DoD back to the table where DoD employees can have the "meaningful discussions" we are entitled by the law," said Paolino.

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