Our union has wrapped up our organizing efforts for May, and we are happy to report that 2,864 federal and D.C. government employees joined AFGE!
AFGE’s NOW organizing effort is turning things around. After two years of loss after loss, membership is finally starting to turn the corner back to growth. While our goal is to break even by July, we saw a loss of only 0.09% in May and are on track to show growth as early as June. Congratulations to all on this new milestone!
Here’s the breakdown of new members by district:
Dist. 2 – 180
Dist. 3 – 167
Dist. 4 – 284
Dist. 5 – 491
Dist. 6 – 139
Dist. 7 – 199
Dist. 8 – 94
Dist. 9 – 270
Dist. 10 – 461
Dist. 11 – 112
Dist. 12 – 383
Dist. 14 – 84
‘NOW materials are useful’
One of the locals that saw membership gains in May is Local 1966 representing employees at the Veterans Affairs medical center, North East Consolidated Patient Account Center, and Fort Indiantown Gap National Cemetery in Lebanon, Penn.
Last month, 25 VA employees joined the local, which currently has 1,171 members out of a bargaining unit of 1,350.
To put things in perspective, the local averaged around 5-6 new members a month during the Trump administration, which left 50,000 vacancies unfilled in addition to being hostile to unions.
“It was tough. They pretty much shut us down. We didn’t have a voice for a long time,” Local President Charles Wright explained.
With the new administration, the local finds it easier to organize mainly because the VA is hiring again. They have bigger New Employee Orientations where Wright introduces AFGE to the new hires.
The local organized around telework, collective bargaining, and employee rights. Wright said he has been using AFGE’s NOW organizing tools to help organize new members.
“I think it’s very useful. It helps us to get out key information – things that happen at AFGE as a whole – to our members in real-time events,” he said. “I love it.”
At these organizing events, he tries to educate members about their rights. The goal is to give them the power to negotiate for more favorable working conditions and other benefits.
“Collective bargaining is the heart and soul of the labor union,” he added.
‘We explain to them what our power is’
For Local 2145 representing VA employees at seven facilities in Richmond and nearby cities in Virginia, the key to organizing members is explaining to potential members the power and benefits of being a union member.
In May, 66 new employees joined the local, ready to be a part of the union that has shown them results.
“We explain to them what our power is, how we can represent people. Then we go to the benefits,” said Local 2145 President Gloria Dunham-Anderson.
By that she means, for example, the local’s recent victory in getting two employees’ paid emergency leave reimbursed after the employees who worked the mid-night shift were denied the use of this new COVID-related leave category.
New members were also happy with members-only benefits like goods and services discounts and Union Plus Scholarships.
The local organizes mainly through new employee orientations and lunch and learns. These days, because of COVID, they have to bring food to various departments and talk about the union there instead of having people gather in one place like before.
The local currently has about 2,600 members out of the bargaining unit of 3,200. They hold all kinds of events, including Zumba and yoga classes, throughout the year to show members they appreciate their support.
The local’s goal this year is to get to 3,000 members and to organize physicians. They have about 20 physician members and want to get to 33% so that these doctors could be covered by the collective bargaining contract.
“It’s easier to organize now because the [Trump] EOs have been rescinded. Employees know we are in the fight with them,” Dunham-Anderson explained.