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Federal judge blocks merit pay system for Pentagon employees

[JURIST] A federal judge blocked [press release] the Department of Defense [official website] Monday from enacting a merit pay system for its government employees. US District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan [official profile] said the proposed National Security Personnel System [official website] would make it unfairly difficult for employees to appeal unfavorable personnel decisions. A lawsuit [press release] challenging the system was filed in November by the American Federation of Government Employees [union website] and nine other federal employee unions to contest the proposed system in which leaders in the Department of Defense would be able to override provisions of collective bargaining agreements and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld [official profile] would have the flexibility to change workers' assignments.

The system would allow Rumsfeld to transfer civilians to administrative positions held by armed services members, and allow the armed service members to return to military positions. Rumsfeld argued that the changes were needed in order to improve the management of civilian work, but the judge ruled [opinion, PDF; order, PDF] that the system would erode bargaining rights for more than 650,000 government employees. AP has more.

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