Temporary Employment Reform

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.

Progress 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.

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.

Progress 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 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.

 Background Documents

News Reports

Most recent update: July 29, 2015

 

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