AFGE Leaders Honored on MLK Day

Categories: The Insider

Our union proudly celebrates the AFL-CIO's recognition of the late Augusta Y. Thomas, AFGE National Vice President Emeritus for Women and Fair Practices, at the AFL-CIO Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Civil and Human Rights Conference Awards Gala on Sunday, January 20, 2019.

We also proudly congratulate AFGE National Secretary-Treasurer Everett Kelley on his selection as the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Labor Leader of the Year.

Civil Rights Icon

Thomas, who passed away October last year, began her government career in 1966 as a nursing assistant at the VA hospital in Louisville, Ky. She joined the union her first day on the job and continued her union activism until her passing in October of 2018. Thomas spent her life fighting for racial equality and human rights. She participated in countless civil rights battles in her hometown of Louisville, KY and traveled across the south to fight injustice.

“We are truly grateful for this honor that is being bestowed upon our beloved Augusta Thomas,” said AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. “Our union is indebted to the work and advocacy of Ms. Thomas during her more than 50 years of service to AFGE. She was a true leader in our movement for civil, human, and workers’ rights.”

“Ms. Thomas is revered as AFGE’s most iconic civil, human and workers’ rights leader,” said AFGE National Vice President for Women and Fair Practices Jeremy Lannan. “She was a true champion who sacrificed everything to ensure future generations have a voice and seat at the table.”

NST Kelley received the award for AFGE on her behalf.

Labor Leader of the Year

Our union also proudly celebrates NST Kelley on his selection as the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Labor Leader of the Year. The award was presented by the National Action Network (NAN) at its annual breakfast honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 21.

“I am extremely humbled to receive this award and follow in the footsteps of labor leaders before me,” Kelley said. “Dr. King strongly believed in the work of the labor movement and deeply understood its profound connection to the civil rights movement. I am so honored to receive this award which speaks to the incredible work and legacy of Dr. King.”

Kelley is an Army veteran and has been a member of AFGE since 1981. He worked at the Anniston Army Depot, which he retired from after 30 years. Prior to his recent election as AFGE’s national secretary-treasurer, Kelley served as a national vice president and president of AFGE Local 1945, where he represented thousands of Department of Defense employees.

Kelley is also a board member of the Habitat for Humanity Alabama local chapter and served as a board member of the Economic Development Council of Calhoun County Alabama, East Alabama Planning Commission, and the Association of United States Army. He has also served as the senior pastor of St. Mary Missionary Baptist Church for the past 31 years.

“National Secretary-Treasurer Kelley has fought for the rights of workers for more than 35 years,” said AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. “AFGE is proud to have such a true trade unionist in our ranks. For decades he has been a leader and advocate for the training and education of union activists to fight for workers on the job and in the streets.”

Other awardees at this year’s breakfast included former Vice President Joe Biden, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill, and Montgomery County Student Government Association President Nate Tinbite.

Founded in 1991 by the Reverend Al Sharpton, NAN works within the spirit and tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to promote a modern civil rights agenda that includes the fight for one standard of justice, decency and equal opportunities for all people regardless of race, religion, nationality or gender.

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