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Blitzer
10-01-2007, 06:36
Some Air Reservists Reject Uniform Rule

Military.com | By Bryant Jordan | October 01, 2007

The Air Force Reserve may be an unrivaled wingman to the active duty force, but it's also a conflicted one right now, with air reserve technicians angry over a new policy mandating daily uniform wear on the job.

And that's prompted some to increasingly talk like the union members many are.

Bristling at the new regs, some reservists intend to pressure the Air Force into scrubbing the new uniform policy - a demand that could have a ripple effect on Air Force missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Stop volunteering for Air Expeditionary Force rotations" is the call rebel Air Force reservists are making.

"We've got to do something to get their attention," said Master Sgt. Jerry Merrill, a KC-135 crew chief at March Air Reserve Base, Calif., and vice president of local 3854 of the American Federation of Government Employees.

Calls to boycott AEFs have been posted in a handful of messages included in an online petition against the policy, and Merrill believes reserve Airmen could begin acting on them.

"We're obligated to do a certain amount" of deploying, he said, but the reserve techs "may be less cooperative with their free time. I would say everyone is behind the war on terror, but we can't be stomped on and have this thing rammed down our throats."

There are more than 8,000 enlisted Air Force Reserve technicians - civil service employees whose civilian job and reserve job essentially are the same - of which more than 6,600 are union members.

As a condition of employment, they serve as reserve Airmen. But except when they're doing their one-weekend-a-month or two-weeks-a-year of duty, or when they are called up or volunteer for active duty, they are civilians.

But the Reserve Command in April notified the union that a change was coming, that all reserve technicians would be required to wear the Air Force uniform whenever they're on the job. Several references to the need for good order and discipline in the original letter suggested to many reservists that the change was connected to discipline problems - a claim that Reserve Command chief Lt. Gen. John Bradley later denied.

Bradley has said the change reflects the professionalism of the Reserve Command and is in keeping with its continuing and expanding role as a full partner with the active duty Air Force.

The change became effective Aug. 7 for reserve techs who are not union members. Others may wear the uniform at work if they wish - which has always been an option - or they can hold out until their next contract is finalized, when Bradley says it will be made a condition of employment.

Bradley, the prime mover behind the new policy, has regularly stressed the importance of the Reserve to Air Force operations worldwide.

"We have a better Air Force Reserve today than we've ever had," he said. "I cannot live without them. And I want them to understand that I appreciate them for that and we need them to keep doing that in the future."

Mark Gibson, a labor relations specialist for AFGE, could not agree more about the Reserve's importance to the overall mission, but he maintains the new policy threatens the force and the mission. It hurts the reserve technicians morale, could cause many who have long years of experience to leave, and could mean fewer techs volunteering to flesh out AEFs.

"This thing is blowing up in the Air Force Reserve's face and they're going to seriously damage that program," Gibson said. Boycotting AEFs, he said, is "a subject that a lot of Air Force Reservists don't want to be public about, but I know a lot have talked about it."

Gibson knows that, ultimately, the Reserve Command can impose the new policy in a future contract, which is why he is urging members to contact their congressional delegations. Only Congress can really turn it around, he said.

An online petition currently "signed" - many signatories do not include their full names - by more than 2,600 people includes a number of calls to stop volunteering for the AEFs or other assignments, even overtime.

The reserve command, wrote one, "relies a lot on volunteers and as we all know, many of these volunteers come from 'undisciplined' [air reserve technicians]. Next time they want you to do overtime, turn them down."

Still, even some reserve techs critical of the uniform policy doubt a halt on volunteering will change anything and that only Congress can reverse it.

"If you don't write your representative and senators, you will have nobody to blame but yourself," one wrote. "Any of you who decide to quit over this will be replaced by some young kid, fresh off [active duty] who has been wearing his uniform for the last four years. He won't care about this issue."

Bradley, however, while saying last month that the Air Force is seeking congressional support for the new policy, said the decision is final. Discussions the Reserve is having with collective bargaining units across the country essentially are about informing them of the policy and how it will affect them.

"I'm trying to figure out ... what a bad impact this is," he said. "It's not a bad impact. It's going to be a good impact. I want people to look at the big picture, look at something besides themselves."

Sound Off...What do you think?

Uniforms (http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,13319,150977,00.html?ESRC=eb.nl)

mitchshrader
10-01-2007, 06:42
he's stupid.

G19Tony
10-01-2007, 16:43
I was an ART in the the early 80's. We all wore our uniforms. What difference does it really make.

RF7126
10-01-2007, 22:05
I was never more than ROTC or CAP so please forgive my ignorance, but are these guys upset that they have to wear their uniforms when working on Air Force time?

gamingoddess
10-01-2007, 22:17
I really hoped that this article was a joke...until I clicked on the link. I've worked with many reservists/national guardsmen during deployments overseas. They were usually great people to work with...it's sad that there are those few out there that tarnish their image. :(

md2lgyk
10-02-2007, 09:49
Originally posted by RF7126
I was never more than ROTC or CAP so please forgive my ignorance, but are these guys upset that they have to wear their uniforms when working on Air Force time?

Not exactly. During the week they are Federal Technicians. They are only on Air Force time when they're at drill or on active duty.

For a time years ago, some Air National Guard Technicians had a uniform (non-military) they wore during the week. I don't think that's the case any more - at least it wasn't for any of the units I was in.

Egyas
10-02-2007, 10:09
Ok, I'm confused here. Are new new regs saying that they have to wear their uniform while on duty (during call-up and active time), or ALL the time (civilian time too)?

RF7126
10-02-2007, 14:34
Originally posted by md2lgyk
Not exactly. During the week they are Federal Technicians. They are only on Air Force time when they're at drill or on active duty.

I think I understand the dynamics slightly better now, thanks.

meeko
10-02-2007, 14:52
I just retired from the Air National Guard. The ANG technicioms were required to wear the standard BDU duty uniform (with rank etc) on tech time (on their full time thruogh the week job) and on drill weekends, 2 weeks annual training etc. I am at a loss as to why the AF reserve have never required it on their end!

the thing about saying no to AEF's is stupid. they can always just invoulentary activate a unit. then you would be under title 10 and it wouldn't be an issue. I spent some time as an Active Guard Reserve (AGR) position. that is the same as active duty except your a Guard asset for your particular base. No PCS's but you will deploy. It seemed like there was always animosity from the technicion side. Not all of them but quite a few had issues with darn near everything.

Egyas
10-02-2007, 15:53
Ok, so these guys work at the XYZ County Airport fixing small planes as they "primary" job. They are required to wear "the standard BDU duty uniform (with rank etc)" while preforming those duties?

Sam White
10-02-2007, 20:39
Egyas,

These people work at Air Force bases (either active duty or reserve bases). The land and equipment are owned by Uncle Sam and he pays these people. The airports are military owned facilities, not civilian ones.

These people work a job that serves a military purpose, and holding an Air Force AFSC is a job requirement to work the civilian position.

That's what makes these people different than ordinary folks.

When I switched to the Air National Guard from the Army Reserve it did seem strange to require technicians to wear BDU's while in a "civilian" status as a GS or WG gov't employee. All of the technicians on our Guard base wear BDU's all month. Our technicians in the USAR wore civies during the month. But the USAR relied mostly on AGR's (full time military) and used few technicians. My ANG base uses mostly technicians as full time staff.

The article shows why technicians should be wearing BDU's during the rest of the month, since those technicians forgot what they are there for.

Egyas
10-02-2007, 22:35
Originally posted by Sam White
Egyas,

These people work at Air Force bases (either active duty or reserve bases). The land and equipment are owned by Uncle Sam and he pays these people. The airports are military owned facilities, not civilian ones.

These people work a job that serves a military purpose, and holding an Air Force AFSC is a job requirement to work the civilian position.

That's what makes these people different than ordinary folks.

When I switched to the Air National Guard from the Army Reserve it did seem strange to require technicians to wear BDU's while in a "civilian" status as a GS or WG gov't employee. All of the technicians on our Guard base wear BDU's all month. Our technicians in the USAR wore civies during the month. But the USAR relied mostly on AGR's (full time military) and used few technicians. My ANG base uses mostly technicians as full time staff.

The article shows why technicians should be wearing BDU's during the rest of the month, since those technicians forgot what they are there for.

Thanks Sam! That explains it all very well. Based on what you have said, I see no reason why they shouldn't wear the BDUs per reg.

najaboy
10-28-2007, 10:06
Thanks Sam! That explains it all very well. Based on what you have said, I see no reason why they shouldn't wear the BDUs per reg.

Because it blurs the line of our actual status and causes us to incur additional out of pocket expenses that the .gov has no intention of compensating us for. While those expenses are minor, they do represent an additional financial burden that would not exist sans this policy.

In addition, it's going to cost AFRC more money. In a time when overall operating budgets are being slashed, they're going to have to pay more to exchange uniforms due to increased wear and tear. In short, Bradley's little pet project amounts to nothing more than FWA at the present time.

Additionally, it completely disregards 10 USC 772, which has resulted in at least one pending lawsuit and that I am aware of. It also places the Air Force in the dubious position of trying to enforce standards when it cannot do so. For instance, I can decide I want to stop off at Wally World on the way home- take off my bdu shirt, put on some mirrored sunglasses, and walk while talking on my cell phone with the other hand in my pocket. All of this is technically prohibited by AFI 36-2903. However, I am not in a military status and therefore not bound by the UCMJ, and it is outside of my normal duty hours, so I cannot be disciplined as a civilian.

Unless on orders, ARTs are not functioning in a military capacity. Compelling the wear of the military uniform blurs this distinction and causes confusion for Active Duty officers who sometimes think they have some type of command authority over anyone in uniform.

Had I wanted to wear the uniform on a daily basis, shave every morning, and get a haircut every two weeks, I would have stayed on Active Duty. However, I opted for a civilian job, electing to don the uniform for UTAs, AT, and any voluntary or involuntary activations. Hell, I'd have no problem wearing the uniform and being held to the same standard as Active Duty if AFRC were to make other facets of the job commensurate with those of Active Duty. Heck, even increase the available stripes for ARTs. Right now, the only hope that many ARTs have of seeing MSgt, even with 30 years of military time, is the PEP program- which has been curtailed.

The main problem here is not that ARTs are not proud of their military service or that we are prima donnas. Rather, this was just one more step in the continued erosion of not only benefits, but also common sense. In short, it was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.

I need to clarify a few things that have been stated...
ARTs are legally prohibited from performing any duties or training that serve an exclusively military purpose while on the clock as a civilian. For example, if I needed to attend M-16 qualification, I would have to be in a leave status and on military orders. The same technically holds true for writing EPRs. I either have to be in a military status or on my own time.

While membership in the Reserves is generally a condition of employment, this is not a hard and fast rule. If an ART loses their military status through no fault of their own, they can generally stay on in their civilian slot.

ANG technicians wear the uniform daily, but took their jobs with that as a condition of employment. In the case of AFRC, Bradley's trying to implement it on a workforce where doing your job in comfortable civilian attire was touted as one of the main perks of the job.

As for AEFs, an involuntary unit activation just isn't going to happen. The way the process works is if enough volunteers can't be found within a unit, the tasking is opened to the sister unit. If enough volunteers can't be found within those two units, then the tasking is opened AFRC-wide. If enough Reservists cannot be found to fill the slots on the DRMD, then the tasking is opened AF-wide, to include ANG.

In closing, I'd like to relay a bit of info that was given to me secondhand, so I cannot verify its authenticity. At a recent manpower conference a couple months ago, Bradley indicated that he was interested in doing away with the ART program altogether.