Bright smile? Check. Passion for organizing young people and LGBT members? Check. Clear record of leadership and community service? Check.
For these reasons and so many more, AFGE was proud to honor Francis Nichols with its first ever Y.O.U.N.G. Emerging Leader Award at the 40th National Convention in August.
Nichols is proud to a part of the "Fighting 14th," AFGE's 14th District. When he's not writing reports for the Superior Court as a federal pretrial services officer in the District of Columbia, Nichols is busy helping his Local 1456 colleagues run community service projects. He was very active in last winter's "Hot Cocoa and Coats" drive, which collected hats, scarves and jackets for over 200 homeless men and women in Washington, D.C.
"It is important for young people to stay active in unions because all of the voices before us are retiring," Nichols said. "There is a need for young and motivated members that wish to see the work of the current union to be upheld. The fight must continue when these members are gone."
Nichols started his activism by enrolling in AFGE's Organizing Institute, a program designed to train activists how to recruit new members to the union and encourage more participation among current members. The institute not only helps activists grow the union Big Enough to Win through increased outreach and membership, but strong enough to win through civic engagement and increased donations to pro-worker candidates through AFGE PAC.
Nichols said that with his training, he hopes to join with his local to coordinate his community in a peace walk, to join law enforcement, community leaders, special interest groups, businesses and local unions in a movement to make our communities safer.
"The hope is that we will be able to promote peace but also given citizens pertinent information on educational resources, summer and after school programs, literature on jobs, voter registration, restoration of rights and information on how to dispose of guns," Nichols said.
Nichols is also active in the LGBT community, as both a performer in the drag community as Nikki Revlon and as a union advocate. Nichols believes in promoting union membership for more egalitarian workplaces, citing the union's success in creating more egalitarian workplaces for government workers. By pushing boundaries in the workplace and his personal life, Nichols has shown that staying true to who you are and what you believe is something to be proud of.
He considers his AFGE sisters and brothers another family, and wants to ensure that all the members of that family receive the representation and voice that they have earned.
"I think all LGBT members should be a part of the labor movement, because it brings equality and fairness for everyone," he said. “You can be free in what you want to do...the labor movement helps you be free.”
Nichols also hopes to continue his organizing in the LGBT community, and wants to increase AFGE's visibility to potential members. I want to take AFGE PRIDE to the next level. We have a lot of work still to be done."