Federal Employees News Digest

Should there be a sixth military branch?

The American Federation of Government Employees and a bipartisan group of lawmakers has raised concern about the administration’s proposal to create a sixth military branch, the U.S. Space Force.

Included in the fiscal year 2020 budget is a proposal that calls for the creation of the Space Force, which will remain under the Department of the Air Force in a structure similar to the Marine Corps’ relationship to the Navy.

The proposal would exempt Space Force civilian workers from Title 5 rules and protections, including collective bargaining rights and whistleblower protections.

“Current Department of Defense employees could be involuntarily transferred to the new department, stripping them of their existing rights in the process,” according to an AFGE press release.

Employees could be hired or fired at will without any appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board or another third party.

“It would create an alarming precedent, I think, that potentially could erode the merit-based civil service within the Pentagon and eliminate the rights of Space Force employees to participate in collective bargaining, for example,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said during a recent Senate Armed Services Committee official hearing on the topic.

About 1,000 of the department’s 16,500 employees would be headquarters staff, including two four-star generals and a separate undersecretary.

Committee members “were skeptical about the need for a new branch and raised numerous questions about the proposal and its impact on the workforce,” the release states.

Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) said that creating a new service would further degrade military readiness, which he said has “plummeted” over the years.

They are asking that Weichert rescind the proposed rule change under grounds that the “federal government should be leading the charge to encourage reintegration and rehabilitation,” instead of doing the opposite.

Read the letter here.

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Contributors

Edward A. Zurndorfer Certified Financial Planner
Mike Causey Columnist
Tom Fox VP for Leadership and Innovation, Partnership for Public Service
Mathew B. Tully Legal Analyst

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