DoD Bargaining

Federal Members,

Many of you may have seen reports regarding a letter that the President sent to DoD allowing DoD to prohibit bargaining for federal civilians employed by DoD.  An article on the letter can be found here.

The District and the IAFF will continue to fight these egregious attempts by the Administration to bust Unions in the federal sector.  We are working with other Unions within the Federal Workers Alliance (FWA) to protect your bargaining rights.   On February 11, 2020, the following was sent to SecDef from the IAFF regarding the letter:


February 11, 2020

The Honorable Mark T. Esper
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, D.C.  20301-1000

Dear Secretary Esper,

On behalf of the nation’s 320,000 professional fire fighters and emergency medical responders, please reject the elimination of unions and collective bargaining within the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) – it will hurt all of our federal fire fighters, their safety and families immeasurably.

In 1962, President Kennedy first recognized the right of federal employees, including those employed by the DOD, to have their voices heard in grievance and arbitration matters.  Seven years later, expanding on the right Kennedy provided, President Nixon set forth the framework of today’s labor-management relations in the federal government.  President Carter determined that comprehensive reforms were necessary for the federal workforce.  Working with Members of Congress in a bipartisan manner, President Carter worked to pass and signed into law the Civil Service Report Act of 1978 codifying the rights and responsibilities of unions and the government.  There is simply no basis to even suggest that the long-standing legal protections afforded to the nation’s federal fire fighters “cannot be applied . . .  consistent with national security requirements.”  More than 50 years of history proves otherwise.

During the 58 years that have elapsed since IAFF fire fighters first achieved recognition at the DOD, union representatives have worked in partnership with DOD officials to find solutions and improvements in all types of matters facing the Department.  Together, we have achieved solutions that continue to assure the safety of everyone entering military installations while maintaining a highly trained and agile emergency response force capable of suppressing and mitigating natural and man-made disasters placing lives in harm’s way.  Nothing in our past suggests our successful partnership cannot continue to safeguard the public interest, contribute to effective public business and facilitate and encourage the amicable settlements of disputes between employees and their employers.

Since 1962, unionized federal fire fighters have successfully participated in securing our nation and our national security interests.  IAFF fire fighters have worked hand in hand with agency officials during threats to the nation, both man-made and natural, with a singular focus of preserving our government and protecting American citizens.  History has demonstrated this to be true.  From days of the Cuban Missile Crisis through our nation’s current and continuous response to terrorism, unionized federal fire fighters have served to protect this nation, defense installations and America’s defenders with distinction.

Today, as the world gets more and more dangerous, and protecting our nation’s military has to remain paramount, fire fighters on military bases and in other DoD facilities need a voice in their work to do their jobs.

Silencing their voice would hurt their ability to serve and protect as effectively as possible.  I urge you in the strongest possible terms to continue to allow federal fire fighters to retain their union voice in the federal workplace. The eyes of America’s fire fighters and history are on you.


Harold A. Schaitberger,  General President


Jim Johnson