Fedweek

The AFGE union has asked for inclusion in the upcoming annual DoD authorization bill of several provisions affecting federal employees government-wide, although opposing some of the recommendations that several commissions have made for inclusion in that bill.

While the DoD authorization measure mainly sets policies for that department, it also commonly carries government-wide provisions. There has been even more than the usual focus on that bill this year as a possible vehicle to enact various policies as Congress has fallen behind schedule due to the pandemic.

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The AFGE for example recommended adding to the Defense bill language to extend the paid parental leave authority enacted in last year’s version of that bill. That benefit, for 12 weeks of paid leave for births, adoptions or foster placements after September 30, left out tens of thousands of federal employees who are outside the “Title 5” section of civil service law. Bills to broaden coverage to those left out were offered early in the year but have not advanced as Congress set aside most issues not related to the pandemic.

However, contrary to the recommendations of several commissions, the union opposed expanding shortcut hiring processes, designating more positions as “excepted service” outside competitive service rules, and expanding “demonstration projects” that test alternative personnel policies.

The union also asked that the bill override a recent presidential memo allowing DoD to broadly restrict bargaining there by invoking national security considerations; union representation already is barred or limited on those grounds in many of DoD’s intelligence components and other sensitive areas. A bipartisan group of senators active in federal employee and national security issues previously opposed that memo, as did a coalition of federal employee unions.

It further recommended several policies restricting contracting out of commercial-type federal jobs; the Trump administration has proposed lifting a long-standing ban on that practice, which would primarily affect DoD because that department has the bulk of such jobs across government.

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