Meet AFGE’s Very First Veteran of the Year!

Categories: Veterans, The Insider

The nominations are in, and we have a winner.

For 2020, the first AFGE Veteran of the Year awardee is Roslyn Austin-Stewart, an Air Force veteran, out of Local 2429 in District 12! An award ceremony will be held during the union's legislative conference next month.

Ros, as she is referred to in her local, was elected to her first term as the AFGE Local 2429 President in June 2017 after successfully serving 10 years as the appointed fair practices coordinator.

In her role as the fair practice coordinator, her primary mission was to represent over 1,000 bargaining unit employees assigned to the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), Los Angeles Air Force Base (LAAFB), the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS), El Segundo, CA, the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA), Los Angeles, CA, Non-appropriated Funded Missions Support Employees (NAF), Los Angeles AFB, CA and the Defense Contracting Management Agencies (DCMA), against all forms of discrimination. In her more than 10 years as the fair practice coordinator, Ros won many cases. But her winning streak didn’t stop there.

In her first two years as president, Ros has more than doubled her union membership. With her goal of giving back to the local, she has spent countless hours developing programs that educate and directly benefit her membership. Her monthly meetings are spent educating and training her membership on the various appraisal programs, how to properly file grievances, how to identify and document disparate treatment, harassment and discrimination.

She worked in partnership with local agency leadership on how to identify and reduce/eliminate unfair labor practices. She established partnerships with agency management that resulted in reduced grievances and better management to employee relationships. She established a Union Plus Featured Vendor Program and instituted membership programs that contributed to morale. Among these programs, she instituted the Monthly Birthday Recognition Program, where the local treats those with birthdays during each month to lunch.

She responded to the needs of her membership by implementing a Bereavement Program, which contributes $250 to members going through the death of an immediate family members. She, in partnership with her local political officials has developed a robust Political Liaison Program that provides information and is disseminated via private email and social media. Even more impressively, she has appointed and trained more than 13 union stewards.

While creating and implementing new programs for her Local, she also has found time as an active delegate with the AFL-CIO, Los Angeles Federation of Unions. She works tirelessly with other national and local unions to strengthen the labor movement and volunteers as a member of the AFGE Mentoring Program (Each One, Teach One) mentoring to AFGE first-time presidents in New York and Florida.

Prior to being elected as AFGE Local 2429 President, Ros served more than 30 years as both an active duty military member and civilian government employee.

Roslyn began her career in the federal government in 1980 as an active duty airman assigned to the career field of personnel. Her first duty station was Wurtsmith AFB in Michigan. In 1984 she was retrained as a contracting specialist. Roslyn’s military career led her to many different military locations for mobility and training.

She separated from active duty at Barksdale AFB, LA, in March 1990 at the rank of Staff Sergeant and received an Honorable Discharge. She rejoined the military in July 1991, entering the civilian career field during Desert Strom as a contracting officer at the Tank and Automotive Plant in Warren, Michigan. She was reassigned to Lowry Air Force Base, Colo., for base closure, and then moved on to serve at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. She then accepted an assignment to Los Angeles AFB, Calif. as a contract specialist/officer. During her military career she received over 20 Performance Awards, Air Force Longevity Service Awards, Good Conduct Service Awards, Military Marksmanship Ribbons, and Air Force Commendation Awards.

The military appreciated Ros for her valor and commitment, but recently, so has her community. She was recognized at the 41st Triennial National Convention for increasing the membership by an overall 25%. The Los Angeles NAACP Youth Council presented her with “This Hero Appreciation Award” for service rendered with dignity and pride to preserve this country’s freedom. She received a Commendation from the County of Los Angeles in recognition of dedicated service to the affairs of the community and for the civic pride demonstrated by numerous contributions for the benefit of all the residents of Los Angeles County. She became the first person from District 12 to graduate from PORT Leadership Academy in October 2019.

Though this is only her first term as president, her programs, business acumen, and forward thinking will live on for years to come. She is the perfect model of a union employee.

Roslyn said she is honored to have been chosen as the very first AFGE Veteran of the Year.

“I share this award with all fellow veterans no matter what branch of the service they served or the length of time,” she said. “Receiving this award as an Air Force veteran shines a light on the sacrifice’s veterans make and have made while being trusted to protect and serve our country. This has left us all with a strong sense of pride and humility. I am proud to say as a veteran, I am a part of a strong bond of people that reaches across AFGE.”

“This award is framed with the comments I hear when I am identified as a veteran “Thank You for Your Service”. Thank you AFGE for recognizing me to be the first to carry the torch for the AFGE veterans around the world,” she added.

Congratulations, Roslyn!

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