It has taken years of work by your union, but the NFFE-sponsored Land Management Workforce Flexibility Act (LMWFA) is now the law of the land! It passed Congress on August 5, 2015 and was signed into law by President Barack Obama on August 7, 2015. It is now Public Law 114-47.
The bill authorizes the Office of Personnel Management (OPM, the federal government's Human Resources agency) to "prescribe such regulations as may be necessary." Strictly speaking, agencies do not have to wait for OPM rules in order to implement such a simple and straightforward reform; however, it is customary for them to do so. Accordingly, NFFE officials will be pushing Congressional leaders and administration officials to prioritize the drafting of regulations so that implementation can begin as soon as possible.
On September 16, with the August recess over, NFFE wrote a letter to President Obama urging him to direct OPM to implement this important reform as soon as possible. NFFE President Dougan also met personally with OPM Director Beth Cobert with the same request. Finally, NFFE Vice-President Mark Davis has asked Congressional staff who were involved in the passage of the law to keep rapid implementation on the front burner as they work with OPM on this.
This kind of ongoing engagement can be the difference between things getting done and things languishing on the back burner. It pays to have a union on your side. It pays to have union representatives in Washington, DC. This is just one example what your dues pay for. If you are a dues-paying member, thank you for your support. If not, please consider joining today to support this kind of work.
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 LMWFA removes a barrier to the career advancement opportunities of long-serving temporary seasonal employees of land management agencies. This new law 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.
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.
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. NFFE worked 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 was crucial to getting the bill passed in the Senate.
President Obama signed the bill into law (Public Law 114-47) on August 7, 2015.
Most recent update: August 18, 2015