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IBEW Shares Progress in New Personnel System at Defense


October 28, 2010

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Years of contentious negotiations, court filings and legislative maneuvers dealing with the Bush-era National Security Personnel System at the Department of Defense were relegated to history in late September at a Los Angeles conference.

The New Beginnings Conference brought together labor and management leaders from across the nation representing all DoD military services and departments.  IBEW Government Employee Department Director Chico McGill was on the planning committee for the conference.


Says McGill, of the dozens of workshops held:

You often didn’t know who was sitting at the table.  They might have been high-level military officers or union representatives.  But everyone brainstormed together, showing mutual respect and all ideas were listed in a 200-page report.

New Beginnings grew out of a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2010 that called upon labor and management to work collaboratively to come up with recommendations on a new fair and transparent performance management system, hiring flexibilities and an incentive system for compensation at DoD.

Contrasting the different approaches of two presidential administrations, McGill says:

The Obama administration’s NSPS Transition Office absolutely encouraged union participation in the process of fixing what was damaged during the last administration in personnel relations at the DoD.

The process of coming up with new programs is not complete, but ongoing meetings are showing promise, says McGill.  The United Department of Defense Workers Coalition, representing 36 unions is co-chairing meetings reviewing the report from Los Angeles.

During his 2008 presidential campaign, President Barack Obama pledged to reform the NSPS, answering charges that collective bargaining rights exercised by DoD workers could undermine national security, saying:

I am fully aware that DoD’s civilian employees are the Department’s backbone, without which our troops would never be able to conduct operations in an effective manner.

Other IBEW members attending the conference were Jay Studebaker and Paul O’Connor, Metal Trades Council (MTC) at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in New Hampshire; Don Bongo, MTC, Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in Hawaii and Lonnie Jarman, business manager, Dardanelle, Ark., Local 2219.


Photo used under a Creative Commons license from flickr user mindfrieze.