After months of negotiations with Congressional lawmakers, the International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers issued a letter of endorsement today for a bill to be considered tomorrow by the House Subcommittee on Science & Aerospace. HR 1085, being sponsored by House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R, NY), will include language that will address many of the union’s concerns.

In a letter sent today to Chairman Boehlert, IFPTE President Greg Junemann detailed the union’s original concerns with the legislation.

“We believe the final outcome of the collaborative working relationship between your office and IFPTE has led to a legislative proposal that will better serve the agency, its employees, and the Nation. IPFTE is especially pleased with the rigorous notification, planning, and monitoring portions of the bill, with the inclusion of financial incentives reserved almost exclusively for the recruitment and retention of rank and file technical staff. In addition, IFPTE applauds you for ensuring that the proposed Industry Exchange program not be included in your bill. As you know, IFPTE believes that such a program, in any form, would seriously compromise the agency’s independence from the very contractors it must oversee.

“It is also important to make note of our concerns surrounding HR 1085’s original inclusion of language that would have completely lifted the cap on demonstration projects at NASA. Through our negotiations however, IFPTE is pleased with our agreed upon compromise. IFPTE is satisfied that a lifting of the cap from 5,000 individuals to 8,000 individuals is an adequate compromise that will not only give the Administrator his requested flexibility, but will also continue to protect NASA workers. This compromise will guard against the potential dangers that unlimited demonstration project authority could have on NASA workers.”

President Junemann concluded his remarks by looking down the road as this issue moves its way through the legislative process.

“Although we are endorsing the proposed legislation now, we will continue to work closely with members of the House and Senate as this legislation and its Senate counterpart move through the legislative process. While IFPTE firmly believes that HR1085 represents the best overall bill and directly addresses many of our concerns, we will endeavor in conference to incorporate those aspects of S.610 that would further improve the final legislation. In particular, we will be looking for acknowledgement of those recommendations that come out of the final report of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, especially those pertaining to rectifying management problems at NASA.”

HR 1085 is expected to be marked up again by the full House Science Committee in mid-July. IFPTE, which represents upwards of 8,000 NASA workers nationwide, will continue to monitor this issue.


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