Each year, the Women’s and Fair Practices Departments awards the Augusta Y. Thomas Civil Rights Award to four dedicated trade unionists who exemplify what it means to be true champions for civil, human, women, and workers’ rights in four areas of service:
- Education and Training
- Member Mobilization
- Legislative Political Action
- Representation through Litigation
The 2023 winners were awarded during our annual legislative conference’s civil rights luncheon on Feb. 13. Congratulations to all the winners!
Education and Training
The Education and Training Award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated a commitment to educating and training members in their local, council, and/or district by providing EEO training and assistance, promoting diversity and inclusion efforts in their workplaces, and more. This year’s Education and Training Award went to Monique Buchanan.
Monique is a Claims Technical Expert with SSA in Port Huron, Mich. She is a member of Local 3239, a member of AFGE Council 220’s Education Committee, and she serves on the National Training Committee (NTC) as the representative for Council 220.
Her nomination letter noted her reputation as the reasonable accommodation expert for Council 220, her history of activism at the local, regional, and national level while a full-time employee of SSA, and her willingness to help her union family across the country.
This Member Mobilization Award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated a commitment to mobilizing and organizing AFGE members around civil, human, and worker's rights in their local, council, and/or district. It recognizes an individual who has helped advance civil and human rights, strengthened the worker's rights agenda, worked with AFL-CIO constituency groups and other allied organizations, and more.
This year’s Member Mobilization Award went to Vera Marshall, president of AFGE Local 2092 representing Department of Veterans Affairs in Ann Arbor, Mich.
“Our local was in need of new leadership post Trump’s executive orders. Vera Marshal stepped in and guided our union from losing members daily to growing our membership from 500 to approximately 800,” her nomination letter says. “Vera performed as a steward and is now our first ever female president. She is responsible for saving Local 2092. I am glad to have met Augusta Thomas and believe her dream lives in Vera Marshall.”
Legislative and Political Action
The Legislative and Political Action Award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated a commitment to mobilizing and organizing AFGE members around civil, human, and worker's rights in their local, council, and/or district. This award recognizes an individual who has helped advance civil and human rights, strengthened the worker's rights agenda, worked with AFL-CIO constituency groups and other allied organizations, and more.
This year’s Legislative and Political Action Award went to Jessica Fee, president of AFGE Local 1631 representing VA employees in Chillicothe, Ohio. Jessica’s leadership was key to saving her VA and stopping the AIR Commission.
“The work did not end there, we have continued the work and have been keeping a pulse on the situation and continued to work with Senator Brown and our local Veterans and local politicians to ensure the future of our VA is secured for decades to come,” she commented on her work to stop the AIR Commission. “The work is not done and it will continue, but I would not be writing this story if not for my union. If I had not had the support and the work done across this federation, I would be writing a story of job loss, loss of veteran care, and losses in my community.”
Representation Through Litigation
This Representation through Litigation Award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated a commitment to combating discrimination in the workplace through litigation. It recognizes an individual who has advised, assisted and represented members with their EEO cases before the EEOC, MSPB and/or in arbitrations; monitored trends in EEO laws and regulations, worked with their agency, state or local officials to address EEO issues in the workplace, and more. This year’s Representation Through Litigation Award went to Oscar Gonzalez. Oscar is the Claims Specialist with SSA in Pasadena, Texas.
“As the project manager for AFGE Local 3184’s EEO cases, Mr. Gonzalez has provided guidance and personally represented over 200 EEO complaints during 2022,” his nomination letter reads. “Mr. Gonzalez has also assisted representatives within AFGE Council 220 and other locals for guidance in both drafting motions and developing case strategy during the year.”