Pearl Harbor workers
protest job rating plan

More than 100 unionized Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard workers rallied outside a military installation yesterday to protest proposed new civil service changes that would affect the Pentagon's 650,000 civilian workers.

The proposed new civil service system would place Department of Defense civil workers under a new job performance rating system, use job ratings as factor in pay raises and give the Pentagon more control over employee appeals of disciplinary action.

But labor leaders like Matt Hamilton, who presides over Pearl Harbor's Hawaii Metal Trades Council, believes it would weaken the union's clout.

Hamilton and five other unions representing about 100,000 defense workers walked out of negotiations with Defense Department leaders on May 16 over the proposed changes mandated by the National Security Personnel System.

Instead, they want Congress to repeal the new proposed pay-for-performance system, which they feel would restrict union bargaining rights and eliminate the current general schedule.

Yesterday's demonstration outside Pearl Harbor's Makalapa gate was part of a nationwide effort to publicize the union's position, Hamilton said.

"Contrary to its name, NSPS has nothing to do with National Security," Hamilton said. "NSPS violates congressional intent as expressed within the law by failing to substantively negotiate over proposed changes. It undermines justice in the workplace."

"Current protection against favoritism will be diluted with pay for performance that will affect annual raises. Federal agencies that have experimented with pay for performance show that it rewards senior management at the expense of the rank and file," Hamilton said.

The change was authorized by Congress two years ago after the Pentagon said current civil service rules hinder speedy response to terrorism and other national security threats.

Hamilton said the reason the labor leaders pulled out of the negotiations, which he attended, was because the new rules prohibit bargaining of more than 75 percent of matters that usually come up in labor talks. Talks are scheduled to resume in early June.

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