It has taken years of work by your union, but Congress may be poised to enact significant reform in temporary employment regulations.
The seasonal work of land management agencies is accomplished by a mix of permanent seasonal employees and temporary seasonal employees. Permanent seasonal jobs are preferable to employees because they feature greater benefits and job security (see table of differences). Currently, regardless of how many seasons they serve, temporary employees cannot compete for permanent jobs under the merit promotion procedures available to other federal employees. This barrier causes high attrition, leading to high training costs and a less capable and less safe workforce. It erodes our nation's wildland firefighting and emergency response capabilities.
The Land Management Workforce Flexibility Act (LMWFA) removes a barrier to the career advancement opportunities of long-serving temporary seasonal employees of land management agencies. The bill gives temporary employees the opportunity to compete for agency positions on an equal footing with other federal employees if they've worked over 4 seasons (at least 24 months of service time) and their performance was satisfactory. It also exempts experienced seasonal firefighters from maximum entry ages that apply to inexperienced, off-the-street applicants. This provides long-serving temporary employees with opportunity and their employing agencies with better applicant pools. This is a common-sense, good government reform with no direct costs and significant payoffs.
On behalf of temporary employees all across the country, NFFE-FSC wishes to thank Rep. Gerald Connolly for his unwavering support during this multi-year effort. We also thank the many Republicans who reached across the aisle to make this a bipartisan bill and make its passage possible. In particular, the consistent support of Rep. Don Young, former Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, and the support of OGR Chairman Jason Chaffetz.
Next steps: For the measure to become law, the Senate must pass an identical bill which would then go to the President for him to sign or veto. Alternatively, if the Senate amends the bill, it would then need to be referred back to the House and the language differences reconciled. We are working hard for passage of the HR 1531 without amendments to avoid the cumbersome reconciliation process.
On behalf of temporary employees all across the country, NFFE-FSC wishes to thank Senator Tester for his unwavering support during this multi-year effort. We also thank Senator Ron Johnson, Chairman of the HSGAC, who was the first Senate Republican to reach across the aisle and support the bill. As Chairman of the committee of jurisdiction, Senator Johnson's support is absolutely crucial to getting the bill passed in the Senate.
Next steps: The bill must now be approved by the full Senate. With the stamp of approval from the committee of jurisdiction, passage by unanimous consent is a possibility and would be by far the best outcome. The bill would then only need the President's signature to become law.
Most recent update: July 29, 2015