Courage Over Comfort

After spending a week at the 2017 P.O.R.T. training, AFGE activists were energized and ready to roll.

The 2017 P.O.R.T. Leadership Academy took place in Galveston, Texas, and trained activists in the areas of legislative action, organizing, representation and peer training.

In her letter to attendees, NVP Cheryl Eliano welcomed participants to the 10th district and introduced the theme of this year’s conference – “Courage over Comfort.”

“We would like to challenge you to truly embrace this notion as a rally call to action,” wrote Eliano. “As a federation, we have come a long way and have made tremendous advancements. However, we cannot rest in our laurels, because there is still much work yet to be done.”

The conference was initially developed under the leadership of AFGE District 5 National Vice President Everett Kelley, who answered the call for more district based training. District 5 held the first P.O.R.T. Leadership Academy in November 2011. This year, Districts 10 and 14 returned as regional partners of the training and were joined by District 6.

In addition to the core training courses required to earn a certification in the academy, this year’s conference also provided training in other popular areas. These week-long classes focused on Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, equal employment opportunity issues, contract negotiations, financial officers training, and other topics. The sessions were also deliberate in addressing how these subjects impact D.C. government employees differently.

This year’s P.O.R.T. Leadership Academy also featured its first ever Living Legend Award. The honor was given to District 6 National Vice President Arnold Scott for his decades of leadership and service to the labor movement.

At the end of the training, the AFGE Y.O.U.N.G. Committee raised money for those dealing with the devastation from recent hurricanes. The campaign raised more than $47,000 for the AFGE disaster relief fund, managed by the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund.

AFGE members reflect on the P.O.R.T Leadership Academy  

“The organizing training class provided some very concrete and easy-to-follow tools for doing metros and lunch & learns. I appreciate the handouts that can be used in the future. I thank the NVPs for having the PORT training. I would also like to thank Ann, Tina and Leo for the valuable training. I really enjoyed it and appreciated that they made it fun.”  

  • Shawn Petty, District 9 National Fair Practices Affirmative Action Coordinator  

“The training is very informative. I’m still new to the union, as far as actions and organizing. I’m looking forward to taking all the information back to my local and putting it to work.”  

  • Marcus Gause, AFGE Local 3197, Department of Veterans Affairs  

“This leadership conference is a good opportunity to show young leaders what it’s all about to be a young activist.” 

  • Dr. Lydell King, AFGE Local 1495, United States Coast Guard   

“The training is awesome. From my training, I’ll take back how to do a grievance. There are certain things you must look for and you have to be very careful of what you say and what you write. If you make one mistake it can be thrown out.”  

  • Johnice Walton, AFGE Local 1975, D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles  

“It’s been great to see a lot of new, younger faces out here being more active into our movement. At the Orlando VA we are trying to grow our young committee. [And] we’re still trying to grow our local. When I arrived there we only had about 300 members and we currently have close to 2,600 members now. So, growing our local is critical to achieving our mission.   

  • Rob Robbins, AFGE Local 559, Department of Veterans Affairs  

“The greatest take away is all of it. This is my first P.O.R.T training, so I’m like a sponge, trying to absorb everything. It’s all really good information.”  

  • Kevin Seifert, AFGE Local 525, Bureau of Prisons 

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