Remember Your Rights

So you are new to the AFGE family. Welcome! We're so excited to have you on board. You are now part of the labor movement that created and maintains the middle class in America.  

Studies have shown that union members make more money and have better healthcare and retirement benefits than non-union members. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people who are not in a union are giving up more than a half million dollars in lifetime earnings. In the federal sector, even though Congress and the President control the wages of federal workers, unions make sure they get paid fairly. AFGE, for example, secured a locality pay increase in 13 new cities. 

Union members also have a voice on their job on important issues like safety and protections against retaliation and discrimination.


Now that you are an AFGE member, it’s important that you know your rights if you are to have a successful career. Here are a few things you need to know.  

1. You Have the Right to Workplace Protections

As a federal employee, you have some basic and specific rights under Title 5 of the United States Code to, among other things: 

  •  a 40-hour work week, specific paid holidays, paid leave, overtime or compensatory time off  
  • join with your coworkers and negotiate collectively with your employer for better working conditions  
  • appeal as part of a fair due process if you believe you are unfairly disciplined, terminated, evaluated 
  • protect yourself against retaliation or discrimination by management  
  • speak out against waste, fraud, and abuse  

2. You Have the Right to Protect your Rights

The U.S. government is expected to be a model employer, but individual managers may not live up to this ideal. That’s why you are allowed to unionize and have union representatives to look out for you.  

Your union reps are your co-workers who are also 'union stewards' or 'officers.' While they work on your behalf, union reps:  

  • hold management accountable and help you respond if your manager mistreats you 
  • meet with management to discuss working conditions 
  • negotiate your contract to make sure that you have the tools you need to do your job, that your workplace is safe, and that you are treated fairly, among other things 
  • are given certain hours, known as official time or representational time, to protect your rights and work on your behalf 

3. You Have the Right to Have Your Union Dues Deducted from Your Pay Check

Joining AFGE is voluntary. And if you decide to join, you have the right to ask your agency to have your union dues deducted from your paycheck for your convenience. It’s the same concept as setting up an online bill payment to avoid missed due dates.  

Your union dues provide resources to stand up for good jobs, good benefits, decent working conditions, and quality legal representation. Your union dues make our collective voice louder, help us build political clout and allies, organize new members, and train activists to fight on your behalf. 

None of this would be possible without the strength of our collective voice and union dues.   

In the coming weeks, we will discuss these rights in detail and some members of Congress’ backdoor way to gut them and end your workplace protections for good.  

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