Representative Rokita (R-IN), along with Representatives Brat (R-VA), Loudermilk (R-GA), and Smith (R-MO), have introduced legislation, the Promote Accountability and Government Efficiency Act (H.R. 3257), that would make radical changes to the rights and protections of federal workers.
To start, the bill would make any employee hired on or after one year after the bill’s enactment an at-will employee that may be removed or suspended without notice or a right to appeal for “good cause, bad cause, or no cause at all.” However, certain legal protections remain, including laws protecting employees from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicapping condition, marital status, or political affiliation; prohibited personnel practices; and whistleblower retaliation. Laws protecting the employment rights of veterans would also apply. However, monetary court awards are limited to $50,000 per person, or in the case of a collective bargaining unit, $10,000 per occurrence or $300,000 in any calendar year. Furthermore, employees may appeal an adverse personnel action only to a single agency and for those who file with multiple agencies, the remedy is limited to $1,000 in the aggregate.
For current employees (not at-will), the legislation allows agencies to suspend (with or without pay) an employee if the agency head determines that the performance or misconduct warrants such suspension. Employees would be entitled to written notice not later than 10 days after the suspension starts, 10 days to respond, an attorney or representative, and a review by the agency head and a final written decision. Appeals may be made to the Merit Service Protection Board (MSPB), but the employee may not be reinstated pending the final decision of the appeal. Current employees are also prohibited from appealing adverse personnel actions to more than one agency.
The legislation also prohibits employees from receiving an increase in their annual rate of pay if the employee did not receive at least a score of 4 or 5 out of 5 (or equivalent rating) on the employee’s latest performance review, and the number of employees receiving a score of 4 out of 5 does not exceed 50 percent of all employees at that agency. In the case of an employee covered by a collective bargaining agreement entered into on or after the date of enactment of this bill, a grievance filed on behalf of such employee that results in an increased performance rating may not result in an increase in the annual rate of pay for the employee.
Under the bill, employees may not be paid an annuity on the basis of their service if the individual is convicted of a felony offense that is related to the performance of any position within the service occupied by such individual.
Regarding official time, the bill states that an employee must be in non-duty status and may not use any government property when carrying out any activities related to the internal business of a labor organization (including the solicitation of membership, elections of labor organization officials, and collection of dues). Moreover, employees engaging in such activities must account for their time spent carrying out such activities and may not engage in any political activities that may impact an employee’s agency.
NTEU is fighting against these harmful proposals on Capitol Hill and will continue to strenuously defend federal workers and retirees from such vicious attacks.
Please visit the NTEU Legislative Action Center to see what you can do.