It’s not every day a lawmaker drops by your job to join the union. That’s exactly what happened to employees at the National Gallery of Art (NGA) during Federal and D.C. Worker Appreciation Week. Congressman Jamie Raskin of
Maryland’s 8th District visited with workers at NGA and not only pledged to assist them with their workplace issues – he also joined the union!
Raskin is among a handful of lawmakers who have joined AFGE after becoming a member of Congress. He joined AFGE Local 1831, which represents security personnel and other staff at the NGA.
“It means a great deal to us for Rep. Raskin to show his solidarity with workers by talking the talk and walking the walk,” said AFGE District 14 National Vice President Eric Bunn. “We are proud to have a dynamic leader and friend of labor be a part of our union.”
After turning in his membership form to AFGE Local 1831 President Calvin Allen, Raskin joined workers in the breakroom to talk about why he became a member.
“I was very moved and inspired by what AFGE did during the shutdown, along with other groups that stood strong for people in our area. So, I decided as a federal worker myself – a representative – I wanted to join AFGE,” said Rep. Raskin during his visit.
During much of his visit he listened to workers raise their concerns about the increased contracting out of gallery protection officer positions. Employees talked about how this work has historically been a way for veterans to enter the federal workforce. When asked how many veterans were in the room during this discussion, more than half of the workers present raised their hands.
The members expressed their extreme dismay to see their work shipped off to contractors. Some of the workers have dedicated more than 30 years of service to the NGA.
AFGE District 14 drafted a letter to Rep. Raskin and his colleague Rep. Zoe Lofgren seeking their assistance in getting answers from the agency on its use of a contract workforce. AFGE Local 1831 and District 14 plan to meet with agency administrators next month to address these concerns.
Check out photos from Rep. Raskin’s visit here.