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Federal Employees

Implementing FAA Contract

Operating under new pay setting authority granted by Congress, AFSCME and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the Department of Transportation (DOT) began negotiations on their first contract in January 2001. AFSCME members at the FAA overwhelmingly ratified the contract in February 2001, however, since the new Bush administration has taken over, the FAA has refused to implement the agreement. At AFSCME's request, members of the House and Senate Appropriations committees included a directive to FAA Administrator Jane Garvey to implement this contract. Language inserted into the Conference Report on the transportation spending bill (H.R. 2299) subsequently directed the FAA to report to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations, not later than January 15, 2002, on how the agency has implemented and/or plans to implement the ratified contract between AFSCME and the FAA. Since then, the Administration has refused to implement the contract.

Union Busting

Union busting in the federal government has taken center stage under the Bush Administration. Unions representing employees of five Justice Department subdivisions have been recently informed that the employees' locals have been dissolved and their collective bargaining agreements no longer are valid under an Executive Order that was signed by President Bush. The order states that employees in those agencies have a primary function of intelligence, counterintelligence, or national security work, and that the federal service labor/management relations statute cannot be applied to them because of national security concerns. AFSCME represents a number of clerical workers in the U.S. Attorney's office and others in the DOJ's criminal justice division. A number of congressional leaders have expressed displeasure with the Bush Administration's move to deny federal employees union protections and are exploring legislative and legal options to prevent further weakening of union representation.

Contracting Out

The pressures to transfer government work to private for-profit and non-profit organizations affects a broad range of government operations from corrections to social services to highways. This issue is always looming on the horizon and is expected to come up again in one form or another in this Congress. H.R. 721, the Truthfulness, Responsibility and Accountability in Contracting (TRAC) Act, was introduced in the first session of the 107th Congress, which would temporarily suspend new federal service contracts until agencies have established a comprehensive and reliable reporting system to track the costs of service contracting. This action would prevent work from being given to contractors without public-private competitions, and subject work performed by federal contractors to the same level of public-private competition as that experienced by federal employees.

Management Authority to Fire Workers

The Freedom to Manage bill, S. 1613, would give federal managers more flexibility in managing federal employees including more opportunity to hire and fire. This would weaken statutory personnel guidelines.

Recruitment and Retention

Another bill, S. 1612, focuses on human capital reform for federal agencies. The legislation would require agencies to do a better job of recruiting and retaining employees. It would also provide federal managers with the tools and flexibility in areas such as personnel, budgeting, property management and disposal. Unfortunately, the bill fails to do much to address granting shortages in the executive branch.

Pay Parity

Pay parity between military and civilian federal workers was in jeopardy because President Bush's budget for 2003 called for a massive increase in military spending which would once again leave civilian employees with a pay increase not comparable to the military's. However, pay parity prevailed because the Treasury Postal Appropriations that passed in the House had a 4.1% pay increase for federal workers.

AFSCME Position

AFSCME continues to demand that FAA implement the contract and is working with Congress to ensure a successful outcome. AFSCME opposes union busting in any form and will fight to stop this trend and threat by the present Administration. AFSCME also opposes "contracting out" in the federal government especially when the private contractors do not have to adhere to the same standards as federal employees. We oppose any legislation that will make union representation weaker in the federal government, including granting new management authority to unfairly fired workers. In addition, we support continuing pay parity between military and civilian federal workers.

Legislation Department
July 2002