In Historic First, AFGE Leader Appointed by DoD to Sit on Defense Business Board

Categories: DoD, The Insider

For the first time, a labor representative will sit on the Department of Defense’s Defense Business Board. 

District 10 National Vice President Cheryl Eliano is one of 18 individuals asked to serve on the Defense Business Board in fiscal 2022. It’s the first time a union representative has ever served on the panel, which provides the Secretary of Defense and other senior leaders with independent advice on best business practices for application by the department. 

“I was ecstatic,” said NVP Eliano when asked how she feels about being appointed to serve on the board. “I look forward to working with the other board members to develop proposals that further the interests of DoD’s mission, its employees, and the public.” 

Eliano said it’s important to have labor’s perspective on the panel. 

“We’re the ones who turn those wrenches. Therefore, we would know more of the field’s thoughts of the labor versus the directors and CEOs,” she explained. “By getting a labor perspective, it will help them to improve in the practices.” 

AFGE has advocated for many years for a position on the Defense Business Board in recognition of the 300,000 civilian employees the union represents in the Department of Defense. AFGE most recently renewed this request in an April 5 letter to Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks. 

Eliano serves as National Vice President for AFGE’s 10th District, which represents more than 40,000 federal employees in Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Panama, and Texas. She was first elected to the position in May 2014 and was reelected in 2017 and again in 2020.  

She previously served for more than 11 years as president of AFGE Local 1920, which represents more than 5,700 Army civilian employees at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas. 

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