AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES
December 3, 2003
On 11/24/03, President Bush signed H.R. 1588 into law. This is the FY 2004 DoD Authorization bill. The law contains most of the egregious features that the original House version held. AFGE thought the more Union friendly Senate version (Collins version) would be agreed to in Conference Committee. They were wrong. The 2 parts of the bill of maximum interest to you are the DoD Personnel System and the new Labor relations System for the DoD. Rumsfeld gets to implement his personnel system (whatever that is) to 300,000 of the 700,000 DoD civilian employees after a 30 day consultation with "National" Union groups. The other, and more frightening part of the bill, is the Labor relations system. Rumsfeld has to notify the Union groups within 60 days of the bill's passage of the proposed new system. Then, the Union groups get to offer their views for a 30 day period before Rumsfeld either accepts those views or rejects them and implements what ever he wants to.
The long and short of it is that by mid-February 2004 Rumsfeld could throw out all bargaining rights and contracts. AFGE is calling for emergency sessions this weekend and next weekend in Atlanta and Las Vegas, respectively. I will leave Thursday for the Atlanta session. They will explain what the bill means and what options are on the table for the future.
At the recent Union meeting at the Union training session in Dallas, we spoke of giving you 3 options for dues for next year. The AFGE National office raised per capita payments by $2.50 per month per member. Our bylaws state the dues will go up by $2.50 per pay period to match the monthly per capita increase. A case could have been made to raise the dues because of the increased costs of the war on Union representatives by Summers. However, with the passage of the DoD bill, I suggest we keep the dues where they are and see what Rumsfeld implements. If the worse case scenario happens, Rumsfeld will stop automatic dues allotments and we can talk about alternatives later. If we don't have any representational rights, I don't see a need to spend money unless we continue per capita payments out of the Union treasury. Many people have suggested that we just split the money between current members rather than let it go to the AFGE National office. I may get fired for unacceptable performance by Jody Niebruegge. I don't want to also add a stint in federal prison. There are Department of Labor rules on what you can use Union funds for. In the mean time, Summers continues the relentless attack on our Union. The dues allotments will not go up unless I notify personnel to raise the dues. I will not do so. In the near future, I will send a letter letting the members vote on keeping the dues where they are or so to raise them.
Raymond E. Downey