Our History

Information about contacting a Union Representative is located in the “Contact Us” Tab

The intent of this information is to provide a brief history of the largest Federal Workers’ Union

The American Federation of Government Employees – AFGE.

WHO? WHAT? WHERE? WHEN? WHY?

We are the civilian employees who operate the Federal Government.  We are the heart and soul of the Government. Some of our accomplishments are:

  • The Space Program
  • Nuclear submarines.
  • Social Security benefits to you in a timely manner.
  • Excellent health care for our Veterans.

Our members provide vital services for the country’s veterans through medical, rehabilitative and financial services at the department of Veteran Affairs.
OSHA Inspectors look after the health and safety of workers.
We protect the national health through members at the CDC, by protecting the food we eat through the meat inspectors at USDA. We inspect mines, guard the borders, assist immigrants, protect and conserve national parks.
Therefore WE ARE THE HEART OF GOVERNMENT: DEDICATED, HARD WORKING MEN AND WOMEN DESERVING RESPECT, JUSTICE AND EQUAL TREATMENT!!
AFGE  was born in 1932, in the midst of the Great Depression. It had been affiliated with NFFE which had a falling-out with the AFL and left the federation.
The Congress, in two “Economy Acts” of 1932 and 1933, ordered a 15% across-the-board pay cut for every government employee making more than $1,000 a year.  Furloughing without pay became widespread–-one month each year. Even the salaries of the President and Vice President were cut fifteen percent.
Congress reduced its pay by only 10%.
Continued employment of anyone reaching retirement age was forbidden.
Most travel allowances were eliminated and those allowed were extremely reduced.  Overtime pay was eliminated.
A particularly vicious personnel action ordered: One member of a married couple working for the Government be laid off before any others in the agency.

THE BIRTH OF AFGE UNION:

The Union was chartered by the AFL on January 14, 1933, at which time full authority was given to the AFGE to organize Government employees.
Our First President was John Arthur Shaw.

WE SUCCEEDED IN OBTAINING LEGISLATIVE PROGRAMS ADOPTED FOR:

  • Restoration of 15% pay cut.
  • End of furloughs.
  • End of 30 year optional retirement.
  • End of prohibition against promotions and reallocations.
  • Repeal of married persons clause.
  • Improve conditions relating to Time off and protection of Merit and Classification Systems
  • The Convention also elected 10 Vice Presidents to serve on a part time, unpaid basis.

EARLY LEGISLATIVE SUCCESSES:

• During the FDR years, AFGE was successful in obtaining rights and benefits for Civil Service workers with regard to retirement pay, classifications, and automatic promotions.
• By 1936, AFGE obtained annual and sick leave bills; restored promotions and allocations; protected retirement funds; and helped secure a five-day 40-hour work week and overtime pay.

EXECUTIVE ORDERS:

• January 17, 1962:  JFK signed Executive Order 10988 granting collective bargaining rights to Federal employees.
• June 30, 1961:  JFK ordered all agencies to pay employees the new enacted minimum wage — $1.15/hr.
• A 10% increase in annuity payments was voted in Congress and approved by JFK.  He also increased travel pay.

FROM EXECUTIVE ORDER TO STATUTE 5 USC 71:

• Executive Orders that expanded EO 10988 were signed by Presidents Johnson and Nixon.
• In 1978, under Jimmy Carter’s presidency, Congress passed 5 USC 71, the Federal Sector Labor Management Relations Statute.  Ken Blaylock served as AFGE President during this time. It was AFGE’s greatest accomplishment.

THE RECENT PAST AND PRESENT:

• Under the Bush administration, the AFGE faced one of the most anti-union Administrations in our history.
• President Obama has been supportive of the efforts of the AFGE and most recently signed Executive Order 13522, which is a way of involving employees and their unions in working together with management to  more efficiently deliver government services, build employee morale and job satisfaction, and improve the labor-management relationship.
• AFGE keeps gaining in membership strength.

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS:

• AFGE must grow. With adversity, more and more government employees realize that without high rates of membership, we will lose the benefits we have fought so hard to obtain.
• Legislative action and membership recruitment must go hand-in-hand in order to ensure AFGE’s formidable force.

PEOPLE POWER:

• AFGE’s greatest resource and its greatest strength comes from its more than 200,000 active and 30,000 retired members.
• The key is to motivate members into action.

MOTIVATING ACTION:

We must move quickly throughout the AFGE in order to bring the strong message to our members that we are all soldiers in this fight for equality. To ensure our victory, we must work together to ensure our survival.

WORK IN UNITY. SPEAK AS ONE:

Become part of the proud history of the AFGE. Join your Local 548 today serving employees of Bay Pines VA Healthcare System.