AFGE is working to revive union representation at a long-established local at Naval Support Activity (NSA) Naples in Italy after members and potential members have expressed renewed interest in the union.
Local 3712 has been representing non-appropriated fund (NAF) employees at Navy Exchange – the base’s retail store – and Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) – which provides support and leisure services – for decades.
But for a long time, there hasn’t been active organizing due to the retirement of union officers and a lack of training for current union reps, resulting in dwindling membership and limited representation.
“They do handle grievances and workplace matters, mostly based on developed relationships with supervisors which keeps matters informal,” said AFGE District 14 Legal Rights Attorney Javier Soto, who recently paid a visit and met with union reps, members, and HR officials there. “There are some supervisors that are members of the union.”
Soto said current employees are excited about having a more active union, and potential members have expressed interest in joining. Just like some other NAF locations in Europe, NSA employees are facing some workplace issues like low pay, post allowances (some get them and some don’t), tensions with local nationals represented by a local union, and discrimination issues related to disability due to an aging workforce. It’s also not unusual for employees to get different instructions on the same project from different senior managers, all unaware of each other’s instructions.
The agency also moved some MWR employees to a newly created sub-agency and removed these employees from the bargaining unit. Due to a lack of assistance and training at the time, years ago, the local was not able to challenge the change.
With the right training and support, Soto said the local could expand its membership not just at the facility but to other units around Naples and beyond, including Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily, Naval Station Rota in Spain, and Naval Support Activity Souda Bay in Greece.
The local has requested assistanceon getting a new union office at the main facility, getting an APO box and materials for organizing. We are also seeking the local’s physical presence at a New Employee Orientation so that union reps can make a short presentation about the union and what workers and the local can do together to improve workplace issues.
We are now bargaining for the local a new collective bargaining agreement. We hope to conclude that process in September.
“These are dedicated and hardworking BUEs. They are also integrated into the local communities,” added Soto. “This local has potential.”
Reviving Local 3712 is part of our campaign to expand our presence in Europe.
AFGE is in the process of launching a new local to cover more than 10,000 federal employees working for U.S. agencies in the continent who currently lack a collective voice at work. The new local was formed under AFGE District 14, which already represents small pockets of federal employees working in Europe. Most federal employees working in Europe are unrepresented, and this new local allows AFGE to extend service to those employees.