WASHINGTON – Today, the White House and Department of Labor brought together workers, advocates, labor leaders, and Members of Congress, to begin a much-needed conversation on the worker voice, the future of work, and a thriving middle class.
AFGE Local 1557 Executive Vice President Christopher Lee Castle was nominated to attend the summit, and plans to prioritize fair treatment for veterans in the federal workforce during his visit. As a Veterans Benefits Administration Loan Specialist and Marine Corps veteran, Castle has served his country in both uniforms, giving him a unique perspective on the issues affecting the nearly 30% of federal employees who are also veterans.
“I see this as an opportunity to fight for the veterans that are going to be transitioning into the workforce and assimilating to civilian life,” said Castle. “I get to represent not just working people but people who have laid it all on the line for their country. It’s an opportunity for me to advocate on their behalf, so that they can have a shot at a livable wage and a career they love; and a real chance to pursue their dreams when they come back from serving.”
In his Labor Day remarks before the Greater Boston Labor Council, President Obama said that the White House Summit on Worker Voice was an opportunity to "make sure that working Americans share in the blessings of this country, and why people who aren't in unions right now need to understand why unions are so important."
As a union activist, Castle has witnessed firsthand the powerful effects of workers joining together and building a movement for change. On several occasions he has helped achieve reasonable accommodations for his veteran coworkers who struggle with conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder or military sexual trauma. He plans to tell President Obama and conference attendees about the wonderful work his colleagues do for our veterans, and engage others in a dialogue on expanding workers’ voices to new areas.
“As much as I am attending the summit, I am also opening myself up to learning more from my fellow workers," said Castle. "We are all facing different challenges, but collectively we can strengthen the voice of workers.”
Congressman Jared Polis (CO), the lead Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, and Castle’s Representative in Congress, sent a special message of congratulations to his fellow Coloradoan:
"I'm thrilled the White House is actively courting and listening to the voices of Colorado workers. Congratulations to Christopher - he will bring a depth of experience in employee relations and workers' rights and will represent our state with distinction."