Temporary Employment Reform

WE DID IT!!!

Man looking into the Sun with outstretched arms symbolizing victory

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Background on the Reform

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.

 Background Documents

News Reports

The History of the LMWFA in the House

  • On June 30, 2010, at the request of NFFE-FSC, the House Oversight and Government Reform (OGR) Committee held a hearing on the use of temporary employment by the federal government and the need for reform.
  • On August 2, 2012, Rep. Connolly introduced the LMWFA in the 112th Congress. It garnered three cosponsors but ultimately died in committee.
  • On February 6, 2013, Rep. Connolly reintroduced the LMWFA in the 113th Congress with Rep. Don Young as an original cosponsor.  It garnered 31 cosponsors. Support was bipartisan, with a roughly equal split between Republican and Democratic cosponsors.  However, OGR Chairman Issa did not support the bill and it died in his committee.
  • On March 23, 2015, Rep. Connolly reintroduced the LMWFA in the 114th Congress (bill number is HR 1531) with Reps. Don Young and Rob Bishop as original cosponsors. Eight Republican and eight Democratic representatives quickly signed on as cosponsors.
  • In 2015, OGR Chairman Chaffetz agreed to move the bill through his committee.  On March 25, 2015, HR 1531 was reported out favorably by OGR by unanimous voice vote.  Chairman Chaffetz expressed his strong support.
  • On July 7, 2015, HR 1531 was passed by the full House of Representatives by voice vote.  It was referred to the Senate the next day.

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.

The History of the LMWFA in the Senate

  • On September 20, 2012, Senator Tester introduced the LMWFA in the 112th Congress.  No cosponsors stepped up and the bill died in the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC).
  • On June 7, 2013, Senator Tester reintroduced the LMWFA in the 113th Congress with Senator Mark Udall as an original cosponsor.  No other cosponsors stepped up and the bill ultimately died in the HSGAC.
  • In 2015, HSGAC Chairman Ron Johnson expressed an interest in moving the bill through his committee.  Because of delays in getting the House bill approved and referred to the Senate, Chairman Johnson introduced an exact duplicate of HR 1531 in the Senate on June 8, 2015 to facilitate having the HSGAC take up the bill.
  • On June 17, 2015, Senator Tester introduced the LMWFA in the 114th Senate (bill number is S 1591) with Senator McCaskell as an original cosponsor.  Senator Peters subsequently joined as a cosponsor.
  • Working collaboratively, Senator Tester and Chairman Johnson agree that the HSGAC would consider the already-passed House bill, HR 1531.  This was an important procedural agreement because if HR 1531 were to be passed by the Senate without amendments, then it would not need to be reconsidered by the House and would be ready for the President's signature.  On July 29, 2015, HR 1531 was reported out favorably by the HSGAC.
  • On August 5, 2015, just before leaving for their August recess, the Senate passed HR 1531 by unanimous consent.

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

 

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