American Federation of Government Employees
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|Full name||American Federation of Government Employees|
|Founded||August 18, 1932|
|Members||288,374 (2014) |
|Key people||Jeffrey David Cox, president|
|Office location||Washington, D.C.|
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is an American labor union representing over 650,000 employees of the federal government, about 5,000 employees of the District of Columbia, and a few hundred private sector employees, mostly in and around federal facilities. AFGE is the largest union for civilian, non-postal federal employees and the largest union for District of Columbia employees who report directly to the mayor (i.e., outside of D.C. public schools). It is affiliated with the AFL-CIO.
AFGE was founded on October 17, 1932, by local unions loyal to the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and left the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) when that union became independent of the AFL (NFFE has in recent years become part of the IAMAW, which is affiliated with the AFL-CIO).
AFGE is a federation of local unions, with each local maintaining autonomy through operating under local constitutions that comply with the AFGE National constitution ratified originally during its founding in 1932.
Federal employees' right to organize and bargain binding labor contracts was established in law by the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, which AFGE helped to draft, and which states that collective bargaining in the federal sector is in the public interest while also barring the right to strike.
AFGE has played a crucial role in the struggle for women's rights and civil rights in the federal sector, and was one of the first unions to establish a Women's Department and a Fair Practices Department, with the officer over those Departments holding a seat on the NEC and with Women's and Fair Practices Coordinators elected in each AFGE District since the early 1970s.
AFGE's December 2009 court suits stopped aspects of the George W. Bush Administration's "National Security Personnel System" (for DOD) and MAXHR (for DHS), and AFGE also won recent changes to law that make the contracting out process more balanced in regard to federal employees' interests. In 2010, the Obama Administration issued an Executive Order for the Federal Government to focus on insourcing Federal jobs rather than outsourcing them overseas or to contractors.
AFGE's motto was established as "To Do For All That Which No One Can Do For Oneself".
AFGE's original emblem was a shield with the stars and stripes and the words "Justice, Fraternity, Progress" and the current emblem is three workers supporting a globe with a map of the United States and the words "Proud to Make America Work".
In June 2011, AFGE also won the historic largest single nationwide consolidated bargaining unit election of over 44,000 employees of the Transportation Security Administration, part of the Department of Homeland Security. AFGE is working for a change in law which will give them the same collective bargaining rights as other federal employees.
AFGE is led by a National Executive Council, made up of National President Jeffrey David Cox, National Secretary Treasurer Eugene Hudson Jr and National Vice President, Women's and Fair Practices, Augusta Thomas, elected at a triennial National Convention, and 12 National Vice Presidents who oversee geographic districts and are elected at District caucuses. Previous National Presidents going back to the 1960s include Bobby L. Harnage, Sr., John N. Sturdivant, Kenneth Blaylock, Dennis Garrison, Clyde Weber, John Griner, and James Campbell. David Glass was the first AFGE National President. Early National Presidents include John A. Shaw, E. Claude Babcock, Charles I. Stengle, Cecil E. Custer and James B. Burns, and James G. Yaden. National Secretary-Treasurer Berniece Heffner served as Acting National President three times during transition periods due to retirement or death during her twenty years in office.
Labor relations in the federal sector are governed by the Federal Labor Relations Authority, an independent federal agency, and federal sector unions have recourse to binding arbitration and to the Federal Services Impasses Panel to resolve impasses which might lead to a strike in the private sector.
For AFGE, collective bargaining responsibilities are delegated to Councils of Locals at major agencies, including the Veteran's Administration, the Food Safety Inspection Service (USDA), HUD, the Social Security Administration, the Bureau of Prisons (DOJ), major components of the Department of Defense, such as the Air Force Materiel Command and the Marine Corps, and major components of the Department of Homeland Security, including the Border Patrol, Federal Protective Service, ICE, CIS, and the Coast Guard. The VA Council is the largest and currently accounts for over one third of the federation's membership. Alma L. Lee is the current president of the VA council.
All union membership in the federal sector is entirely voluntary, as the law does not allow for the "closed shop"; federal employees are barred from being candidates for partisan political office, and no dues money may be spent on partisan political campaigns.
AFGE has been growing in membership in recent years and now has more than 278,000 dues paying members in about 1100 AFGE Locals at more than 100 federal agencies. AFGE represents almost every type of worker in the American economy, blue collar and white collar, and covers a variety of professional, technical and support personnel—including nurses, doctors, machinists, electricians, aircraft mechanics, astronauts, scientists, safety inspectors, mine inspectors, food inspectors, environmental specialists, accountants and accounting technicians, fire fighters, police officers, correctional officers, cowboys, engineers, administrative assistants, janitors, radio and TV broadcasters, procurement specialists, quality assurance specialists, benefits administrators, housekeepers, lawyers and paralegals, boiler plant operators and many more.