The 15 Best Moments from AFGE’s 2015 Legislative Conference

1. You don’t have to be AFGE to be a proud public servant…

Sen. Dick Durbin from Illinois drew wild cheers from AFGE activists at the Government Works for America Rally with this opening line: “My name is Dick Durbin. I’m a senator from Illinois. I get my paychecks from the government. I’m a public employee and damn proud of it.”

2. AFGE + Minnesota Congressman = BFFs

Rep. Keith Ellison wore an AFGE hat at the rally. He told AFGE members, “We are not going to let these people balance their budgets and pay for the loopholes for the billionaires out of your paychecks.”

3. An AFGE first at the Pentagon

DEFCON members were invited by John Johns, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Maintenance, to a meeting – the first of its kind for AFGE – at the Pentagon on Thursday to discuss depot and arsenal issues.

4. AFGE honored a fallen brother

AFGE activists reached into their own pockets to help get the family of late Correctional Officer Jose Rivera to the trial that has been moved to a new location in a different city. Officer Rivera was stabbed to death by an inmate and his family is fighting for justice.

5. Secretary “Bob” was in the house

VA Secretary Bob McDonald became the first VA Secretary to speak at an AFGE National VA Council meeting at the AFGE legislative conference. He declared, “You have no hope to delight veterans if you don’t delight your employees.”

6. Congress members that don’t want to cut our pay?

Members of Congress from both parties who came to speak at the conference united behind federal employees as they called for the respect and better compensation federal employees deserve, including a 3.8% pay raise.

7. Half of conference attendees were veterans

Half of the AFGE members in the room raised their hands when asked how many of them served in the military. About one in three federal employees are veterans.

8. It’s a new year and a new goal!

AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. energized the crowd with a few new words – Organize, Represent, Mobilize!

9. President Emeritus Harnage surprised the crowd

AFGE President Emeritus Bobby Harnage addressed the AFGE Legislative Conference for the first time since he left office in 2003.

10. Solidarity

Presidents of other labor unions addressed the AFGE crowd and pledged solidarity. “When you attack the government, you attack the American people!” said National Association ofLetter Carriers President Fredric Rolando.

11. You’ve got mail

Our very own Communications Director Cory Bythrow shared a touching – and very effective – story about a terminally ill man whose one of his favorite things to do was to open mail. Wanting to lift his spirits, his nephew reached out to complete strangers on Reddit to see if anyone would like to send him a letter or a card. Within days, hundreds of letters, cards, gifts poured in. This is the power of social media and a good example of how we can mobilize in the digital age.

12. Sometimes we need a detour

Dr. Daryl Michael Scott, national president of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, spoke the truth when he said, “We need to look backward to go forward and end misinformation of America!”

13. We have an app for that

AFGE members told us how much they loved the conference App. We had great success with members downloading the app on their smart phones.

14. Give it to me straight

Social Security Administration Acting Commissioner Carolyn Colvin came to the AFGE Council 220 meeting and had a frank discussion with the council about the continuing threat to field offices and adequate staffing at the agency.

15. Mayoral welcome 

Mayor Muriel Bowser, who is recognized as heading city leadership with women in top positions, welcomed AFGE activists to Washington, D.C. during Sunday’s plenary session. 

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