Meetings are ongoing between those designing the Department
of Homeland Security’s personnel system and the heads of
federal employee unions, as both sides say they want to
keep open the lines of communication as the rules go
through their comment period.
Under the new system basic pay would be replaced with pay
bands and broad occupational groups such as entry level,
full performance, senior expert and first line supervisor.
Rates would be set by surveys, adjusted annually and would
include performance-based bonuses.
The two major unions representing DHS employees are the
American Federation of Government Employees and the
National Treasury Employees Union. The unions had formal
roles in the early stages of the DHS planning but were
not part of the actual rule writing.
As with the parallel personnel overhaul underway at the
Defense Department, the unions’ main concerns focus on
employee appeal rights, the scope of bargaining and issues
involving eligibility for union membership. NTEU has
cautioned against rumors to the effect that DHS employees
would lose union representation on March 1, 2004 under the
new personnel system, stating that contracts will remain
in effect on that date.
The system will likely be a prototype for other government
bodies and is attracting attention on Capitol Hill as well.
In a statement on the new DHS system Senate Governmental
Affairs Committee Chairman Susan Collins announced her
intention to review how DHS plans to consult with unions
on workforce matters, noting that the proposed system is a
significant departure from current practices. House
hearings are planned for this week.