AFGE Shows 1st Membership Growth Since 2019, Breaks Record for Membership Gains Since 2018!

Categories: The Insider, Organizing

We just wrapped up our organizing efforts in June, and we are happy to report that our union had our first month of positive membership growth in almost two years! Last month, 3,422 government workers joined the AFGE family, a net growth of 199 members.  

We also broke the record for the most membership gains since October 2018 when the membership gain was 173.  

Congratulations to Districts 10, 4, 3, 2, and 9 for their positive membership gains, and a special shoutout to District 10 for an astounding performance! 

Because of monthly attrition – people retire or leave their jobs or the government – it’s not easy to breakeven, let alone make gains, but we did it! NOW is indeed our moment! 

“Words can’t describe how proud I am of this collective accomplishment. To go from losing almost 1,900 members in January to growing by almost 200 in just a few months’ time is a monumental achievement. It’s a testament to the blood, sweat, and tears you all have put into returning our union to greatness,” said AFGE President Everett Kelley. “There is still a long, hard road ahead of us to get back to 318,000 and beyond. Our task certainly will not get any easier. But if I have learned anything from these past 4 years, it is that AFGE is a union of survivors and rebuilders. For me, 318,000 is not a question of if, but when. I know this union will get it done.” 

AFGE Membership and Organization Director David Cann thanks everyone involved – locals, districts, councils, staff, activists – for working hard and welcoming new members into the union through various events despite hurdles and a pandemic. 

“AFGE grew for 27 years straight- it is who we are as a union. It is in our DNA,” Cann said. “The last administration tried to destroy this union, and admitted as much, but a few short months later we are back to growth, winning new contracts, winning new rights for TSA and growing strong. NOW is our moment. AFGE is NOW!” 

“We are really pleased with the organizing work we’ve been able to do here in District 10,” said AFGE District 10 National Vice President Cheryl Eliano. “We've worked closely with our locals to prioritize organizing and provided the support our leaders need to continue to grow our union. We are proud to be the Tough Tenth District! I know with the dedication of our leaders and activists we will continue to reach new heights.” 

“We challenge ourselves” 

The local with the highest number of new members in June was Local 3511 with a net gain of 88 members. The local represents Department of Veterans Affairs employees in San Antonio, Texas. 

Local President Don Edge was elated when he learned the local had the highest net gain in the federation.  

“Our NVP Eliano contacted me several months ago and she challenged me to promise to get 10 members a pay period signed up, and it was intimidating because we’d been having such a slow bleed since coming out of the executive orders, and I told her I would do my best,” Edge recalled. “I called – we have a [local] president named Don Burrell in Dallas and asked him for some ideas because I know he’s a big-time champion of membership.”  

Edge reached out to a few other people for ideas as well. He also asked NVP Eliano for help with organizing. She sent her assistant and an organizer, and they have been hitting the road running ever since. 

Asked why he felt intimidated when asked to sign up 10 members, the local president explained that it was hard to convince people to join the union during the Trump administration. 

“Before, we gained 5 and lost 10. We gained 3 and lost 4. They thought we were going to fold,” he said. 

Under the Biden administration, things drastically changed, and people are joining again. The local is more than ready for it. 

“We challenge ourselves to get 100 members a month,” he added. 

But what’s so special about Local 3511 is the fact that it’s been helping other locals in the district as well. The local’s Executive Vice President Rena Youngblood, for example, took leave to organize the Department of Defense. Way to go, Team! 

Excited to welcome your coworkers to our AFGE family? 

Check out AFGE’s NOW page for organizing resources. 

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