October 03, 2022
The sorry state of America’s federal prisons was in full display at a Sept. 29 congressional hearing where AFGE Council of Prison Locals President Shane Fausey testified.
Alma Lee, president of AFGE’s National Veterans Affairs Council, was honored by AFGE’s Women’s and Fair Practices Departments this year with the first-ever Woman of Labor Award.
AFGE National Vice President for Women and Fair Practices Jeremy Lannan bestowed the honor on Lee during the closing session of WFP’s Virtual Sister’s Keeper training.
“Through her years of service, Alma Lee has blazed pathways for her fellow woman, has fought against the unfair practices of her fellow sisters in the workplace, and has shattered ceilings for all,” Lannan said. “She has set a series of firsts for women within Department of Veterans Affairs and will leave a legacy larger than herself. The Women’s and Fair Practices Departments is honored to recognize her as the inaugural recipient of its Woman of Labor Award and thank her for her service and her dedication to equity.”
The National Veterans Affairs Council is AFGE’s largest bargaining council, representing 265,000 employees throughout the Department of Veterans Affairs.
In addition to her national leadership role, Lee is an active member of AFGE Local 1739, which represents workers at the Roanoke Regional Office in Roanoke, Va., and the Salem VA Medical Center in Salem, Va. Lee began her 35-year career in Salem as a federal employee in nutrition and food service before
transitioning to nursing, where she formed a solid commitment to veterans, their families, and her fellow federal employees.
Her union career began at the grassroots level, where she served many positions at Local 1739, including steward, vice president, and fair practices coordinator for the 4th District. She also served as president of the local for 17 years. Historically, Ms. Lee was the first woman elected as president of Local 1739 and is the first and only woman elected to head the National VA Council.
President Lee’s union career exemplifies her strong principles devoted to improving the workplace through the empowerment of employees. Working closely with the late Veterans Affairs Secretary Jesse Brown, she sought to end adversarial labor-management relationships, to improve communications, and to build bridges between employees, administrators, veterans service organizations, and the public.
Staff needed to move patients to other hospitals and get the grounds ready for the storm that was projected to be the region’s strongest on record.
This op-ed by AFGE President Everett Kelley was published in The Hill on Sept. 28, 2022.