January 7, 2008 By Brittany R. Ballenstedt
A federal labor union on Monday filed an appeal with the Supreme Court against the Defense Department's new personnel system.
The American Federation of Government Employees filed a petition with the high court, asking it to hear a case on the legality of the National Security Personnel System's labor relations rules for civilian employees.
In May, a panel of judges for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that under the 2004 law allowing NSPS, Defense has the authority to limit the collective bargaining rights of its civilian employees through November 2009. In August, the coalition's request for a full court review of that ruling was denied.
The union's move comes just weeks after Congress passed authorizing legislation that would restore the collective bargaining and appeal rights of employees and modify the way across-the-board and performance-based pay increases are awarded. While the union called the legislation "an acceptable compromise," it indicated plans to move forward with the Supreme Court petition if the legislation was not signed by Jan. 7 -- the Supreme Court-issued deadline for an appeal.
Last week, President Bush pocket-vetoed the authorizing legislation over an unrelated provision that would open up the Iraqi government to lawsuits.
AFGE has pursued the case with eight other unions in the United Defense Workers Coalition. But in weighing a Supreme Court appeal, the other unions dropped out of the case, noting fear that an unfavorable ruling by the high court could set a broad precedent that could hinder the ability to negotiate in the federal sector.