I am writing to you to express a complaint I have regarding a change of working conditions that I have been directed to comply with. I am a Federal Civil Service Employee (competitive service) under US Code Title 5 Part III Sub A Chap 21 Section 2101(1) with over 25 years of creditable civil service with our government. During this time I have served as a civilian Aircraft Structural Mechanic and now a supervisor with the 442ndFighter Wing, Whiteman AFB, Missouri. Section 2101 of US code Title 5 defines employees in “three” distinct categories: “Civil Service”, “Armed Forces” and “Uniformed Services”.
In accordance with definitions in military statute: US code Title 10 Sub E Part 1 Chap 1007 Sec 10216 “Military technicians (dual status) (a) In General.--(1) For purposes of this section and any other provision of law, a military technician (dual status) is a Federal civilian employee who— (A) is employed under section 3101 of title 5; (B) is required as a condition of that employment to maintain membership in the Selected Reserve; and (C) is assigned to a civilian position as a technician in the administration and training of the Selected Reserve or in the maintenance and repair of supplies or equipment issued to the Selected Reserve or the armed forces. (2) Military technicians (dual status) shall be authorized and accounted for as a separate category of civilian employees”.
My position by statute is that of an Air Reserve Technician (ART) which as a condition of employment requires me to maintain membership in the Air Force Reserve unit that I am employed with. I participate in a military status as any other Reservist one weekend a month and a minimum of two weeks a year and have done so since 1985. Prior to that I spent 6 years of Active Duty military service to my country. My civil service job during the week is the same as any other competitive service Federal Employee that is in an appropriated fund position under US Code Title 5. I am mandated to maintain membership in selected reserves not emulate them all the time. I am assigned to a civilian position! Dual Status is exactly that “dual status”, Civilian in one position and Military in the other.
As a civilian supervisor, I am considered a non-bargaining unit employee whose position is not covered by a labor organization. This is why I turn to you for assistance.
My concern relates to a change in working conditions that was mandated to me on 17 Aug 07 by the Commander of the Air Force Reserve Command. I was directed that on Monday morning, 20 August, I was to report to work wearing my Air Force Reserves military uniform while in civilian status and that this was now a condition of my civilian employment.
In essence, I am being forced to emulate the Active Duty Air Force with no funding provided to me for maintaining grooming, hair cuts, purchasing military issue undergarments such as T-shirts, socks etc. of which are not provided. This burden of additional costs to me is estimated from $1100-1500 annually. I was also directed that if I did not comply with this mandate, that I would be disciplined under existing civilian “civil service” regulations. To include action that would be taken to terminate my employment.
This affects approximately 8,000 to 10,000 civilian employees across the country. It is not presently affecting bargaining unit employees (approx. another 6,000 personnel) as they are represented by a labor union, (American Federation of Government Employees, AFGE) at most bases. AFGE is going to have to make a case for defending these civilian employees against this change in working conditions and the outcome remains unknown.
I solicit your investigation into this change of working conditions not just for myself, but for the approximately 150 other Air Force Reserve Civilian Technicians this is effecting, or will be affecting at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri.
This change requires a Federal Civil Service Employee while in Civilian Status to comply with Active Duty Military requirements for dress and appearance, grooming standards, customs and courtesies, and typical rules and regulations that apply to members of the “uniformed services”.
In closing I want to stress to you that as a civilian/reserves technician we are key players in the civilian and military work forces of this great country and gladly wear the uniform for monthly Unit Training Assemblies, 15 days of Annual Tour requirements and any time mandated to perform military duty “in a military pay status”. As you are well aware, our Reserve Component Forces are deeply involved in Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Technicians in most instances now serve much more than 15 days a year with their reserve unit. Within the past 6 years our unit, equipped with A-10 aircraft, was activated for 1 year and deployed to Iraq for 8 months. We have deployed to Afghanistan twice since 2002 and are scheduled again next year. Most Reserve folks are participating for at least 40 or more days a year now instead of 15. I personally served as a reservist moved forward in the initial stages of the Iraq war to Tallil AB IRAQ. And have served at Bagram AB in Afghanistan. The ART technician’s conditions of employment for the civilian job however, never included dressing and conforming to Active Duty military requirements as part of my civilian employment.
Please check into this unfair labor practice that targets a fairly small group of civilian employees. This group is being singled out from all the other Federal US Code Title 5 civilian employees for this loss and violation of individual rights. This abuse of power and such an egregious change to conditions of employment warrants assistance from legislative powers. I implore you to assist us in these matters.
I can furnish copies of precedent letters, policy change letters and various internal correspondence that has led to this change of working conditions upon request.