AFGE wrapped up our annual legislative conference where nearly 700 AFGE activists representing 700,000 federal and D.C. government employees from across the country and overseas gathered in our nation’s capital to call on lawmakers to support the work they do serving the American people and to reject the Trump administration’s anti-government, anti-worker mentality.
This year’s gathering is especially important because Trump has just issued a memo authorizing the Defense Department to end unionization at the agency. This comes on top of the administration’s new push to implement anti-worker executive orders governmentwide and a budget proposal that would harm the missions of our government agencies.
But the new round of assault did not stop AFGE members from fighting for the work that they do. Instead they were fired up and ready to fight back. Here are some of the best moments from this year’s legislative conference:
1. National Secretary-Treasurer Everett Kelley fired up the crowd with his feisty speech urging AFGE members to stand together and win together in the face of the most serious threat ever.
“As 2019 showed us, there is nothing we can’t achieve when we join together. We are more than a union – we are a movement!” NSP Kelley said. “If we fight together, we win together!”
2. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi got a rock star welcome and brought the house down as she reiterated the importance of federal workers and their work on behalf of the American people.
“We’re up against a crowd that doesn’t believe in the public sector. So they’re not going after you personally only. They’re going after what you do. They want to privatize everything so they can make money off of it and that they don’t have to honor any commitments to diversity or fairness in the workplace.”
3. Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle vowed to fight for collective bargaining and fair compensation for federal employees. Speaking at the conference were Tim Kaine, Jennifer Wexton, Gerry Conolly, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Brian Fitzpatrick, Susan Collins, Jamie Raskin, Mark Takano, Steny Hoyer, Jan Schakowsky, Normal Torres, and Tom Cole.
4. AFGE members gathered in the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building, standing silently for 20 minutes to reflect the 20 months since the executive orders were issued, attempting to silence the voice of federal workers.
5. The AFGE legislative team led by Legislative Director Alethea Predoux introduced their legislative playbook with tips on how to engage members of Congress. They would know – look at the long list of their accomplishments in 2019! And our union can do much more this year if all federal employees join in the fight!
6. During the civil rights luncheon, the entire room turned silent as AFGE member Katie Hazelwonder recounted her struggle fighting discrimination and retaliation in the U.S. Coast Guard. Katie, who is part of the LGBT community, detailed how she found her strength in AFGE to fight back against the injustice.
7. Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, a civil rights activist and a Freedom Rider from Arlington, Virginia, spoke about her story fighting for civil rights and what it will take for union members in the 21st century to make the change we desperately need.
8. And AFGE’s Law Enforcement Office of the Year Award goes to…Border Patrol Agent Jonathan Morales who saved lives at the Chabad of Poway Synagogue shooting in San Diego last year.
9. And the Augusta Y. Thomas Civil Rights Awards go to… Sandra Parr (Representation Through Litigation), Jennifer Ramirez (Legislative Political Action), Janet Constance (Member Mobilization), Sandra Matthis (Education and Training), Karen Ford-Styer (Community Activism), Frank Silberstein (Disability Advocacy and Representation), and Gloria Miles (Lifelong Achievement).
10. AFGE members bombarded the comment section of the new rule proposed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that would deter federal workers from pursuing discrimination complaints.