National President J. David Cox Sr.

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Jeffery David Cox Sr. is National President of the American Federation of Government Employees, which is the largest union representing federal and D.C. government workers. Cox was first elected president in August 2012, by delegates to AFGE’s 39th National Convention in Las Vegas. AFGE members re-elected him to two successive three-year terms at AFGE’s 40th and 41st National Conventions in 2015 and 2018.

As National President, Cox has been a tireless and fearless advocate for federal and D.C. government workers, leading AFGE through some of the most difficult battles in its history.

Under his leadership, workers defeated the disastrous 2013 shutdown, beat back threats of a presidential pay freeze, and stopped the longest government shutdown in U.S. history during 2018-2019, with Cox heading massive protests in front of the White House and inside the Hart Senate Building.

Cox has also led major efforts to grow union membership within AFGE and in the broader labor movement. He presided over the largest successful labor organizing drive in recent U.S. history, helping workers at the Transportation Security Administration win their union and a first contract. Since first taking office, Cox has implemented programs that helped AFGE organize over 33,000 net new members and get past the 300,000 member mark for the first time in 2015.

He has led AFGE’s combined active and retired membership to over 325,000 and built a stronger, more powerful union capable of facing down the continual threats of hiring freezes, budget cuts, and attacks on the pay, benefits, and collective bargaining rights of government workers.

As a nationally recognized labor leader, Cox was appointed by Presidents Obama and Trump to serve on the Federal Salary Council and the Federal Prevailing Rate Advisory Council. He is a member of the AFL-CIO Executive Council and Vice President of the North Carolina State AFL-CIO, serving in the latter position since 1993. Cox was unanimously elected chairman of the Executive Committee of the Department for Professional Employees (DPE), AFL-CIO. He also chairs the AFL-CIO’s Union Veterans Council, which seeks to help veterans with employment opportunities through the VA and in the building trades.

Cox is the proud recipient of numerous awards honoring his commitment to the labor movement:

  • The Yitzhak Rabin Public Service Award, American Friends of the Yitzhak Rabin Center, 2012;
  • At the River I Stand Award, AFL-CIO, 2013;
  • Martin Luther King Jr./the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Labor Leader Award, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, 2013;
  • Labor Award, National Action Network, 2014;
  • Peggy Browning Award for Social Justice Advocacy, Peggy Browning Foundation, 2014.
  • David L. Clendenin Labor Award, Workers Defense League, 2016.
  • Sol Stetin Award, American Labor Museum/Botto House National Landmark, 2018.

Cox began his career in health care in 1970. In 1983, he became a registered nurse and started a public-sector career with the Department of Veterans Affairs that lasted until September 2006, when he became AFGE National Secretary-Treasurer.

A native of North Carolina, Cox is a graduate of North Carolina’s Rowan-Cabarrus Community College and a former member of its board of trustees. He also attended Gardner Webb University in Boiling Springs, N.C.

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