In Presidential Race, Both Sides Woo Federal Workers

Below is an excerpt from an article featured on Please click here to read the full article.

Government workforce a key vote in 2012 election

By: Matt Laslo

Virginia is one of the most hotly-contested states in this year’s presidential election, which makes political outreach to federal workers in the region all the more important. Some Democratic campaigns think they have the votes of most federal employees in the bag, but it’s more complicated than one might think.

There’s been no shortage of Republican rhetoric about shrinking the government — even eliminating entire agencies — during this year’s presidential race. Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney epitomized the argument during a speech on the campaign trail after he won the Michigan GOP primary in February.

“I’m going to deliver on more jobs, less debt and smaller government,” Romney said. “We’re going to hear that day in and day out, more jobs, less debt and smaller government.”

It goes beyond rhetoric, though. Republican leaders want to extend a pay freeze for government employees and make them contribute 5 percent more to their pensions. These proposals haven’t gone unnoticed, especially by federal employee labor unions such as the American Federation of Government Employees.

Federal workforce feels like ‘an ATM’

Tom Webb, president of the AFGE Local 3615, sits down to talk presidential politics at the Juke Box Diner in Northern Virginia on a recent afternoon. He’s retired now, so he has time to sip coffee under the neon lights of this classic diner on a weekday afternoon.

The AFGE represents more than 600,000 federal workers, and many members are frustrated by Republican efforts to reduce compensation for federal employees, Webb says.

“We seem to be like an ATM machine for this Congress,” he says.

That’s been a recurring theme from Republicans. In Romney’s economic plan, the former Massachusetts Governor argues he can reduce the deficit by nearly $50 billion dollars by bringing federal compensation, including benefits, in line with the private sector.

Webb, who worked at the Social Security Administration for 38 years, bristles at some of what he’s heard from Romney about protecting taxpayer.

“Well we’re taxpayers too, you know, and we contribute to the economy,” Webb says.

Dems combatting fallout from Obama pay freezes

Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), who has represented Northern Virginia for more than two decades, acknowledges the federal workforce is more diverse than portrayed.

“Many people have the misimpression that virtually all federal employees vote Democratic. That’s not the case,” he says. “Now, blue-collar federal employees tend to vote Democratic.”

Click here to read the full article.


WASHINGTON – American Federation of Government Employees National President John Gage today issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling affirming the Affordable Care Act:

“The Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act is a victory for everyone who believes all Americans are entitled to affordable, quality health care.

“Millions of Americans are already benefiting from the law, including federal employees, and the court’s decision ensures that all of the law’s provisions will become reality. Because of the Affordable Care Act, 3.1 million young adults have already received health coverage through their parents’ insurance. Because of the Affordable Care Act, 17 million children who are sick no longer are in danger of being dropped from coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

“And because of the Supreme Court’s ruling affirming the individual mandate and Medicaid provisions, health care coverage will now be extended to 30 million uninsured Americans – including up to 200,000 federal employees who can’t afford insurance through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

“Now that this historic legislation has been upheld by the highest court in the land, it’s time for Republican leaders in Congress to stop their campaign to repeal the law and to focus instead on improving the economy and creating jobs.”

HUD Council Vice President Carolyn Federoff Explains the Federal Deficit

Watch AFGE HUD Council Vice President Carolyn Federoff’s presentation on the federal deficit which she gave during this year’s AFGE Legislative Conference.

Annual Legislative Conference Round-Up

Hundreds of federal and D.C. government employees have been in Washington, D.C. this week for the American Federation of Government Employees’ Annual Legislative and Grassroots Mobilization Conference. AFGE members from every major federal agency and representing all 50 states are in attendance. In addition to AFGE leaders, attendees heard from Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Leadership Conference on Civil Rights President Wade Henderson, as well as several other policymakers and opinion leaders.

Click here to check out the Annual Legislative Conference Rally Pics on Facebook!

Carolyn Federoff speaks during the plenary session at the AFGE Legislative Conference. Federoff is Vice Chair of AFGE’s HUD council and vice president of AFGE Local 3258.

Wade Henderson speaks during the Civil Rights luncheon at the AFGE Legislative Conference. Henderson is CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.


Click here to go to the article and read comments at the Washington Examiner.


To the Examiner:

In your editorial on Monday, you described my union, AFGE,  basically a Federal sector union, as a “powerhouse.”  You asserted that “23 states have right-to-work laws that protect workers who choose not to join unions, and federal employees are not even covered by these laws.  The result is effectively a union shop.”

In fact, the federal government is an open shop.  No one is required to join a union.  What this means in practice is that everyone in the bargaining unit votes for union representation and benefits from the union.  Nevertheless, since Federal employees do not have to pay dues, most of those in the bargaining unit do not join.   We are required to represent them anyway.  If we discriminate in favor of union members, we face an unfair labor practice action before the Federal Labor Relations Authority.

No union is a “powerhouse” in such an environment.  Unions dislike “right to work” laws because there is no incentive for those in the bargaining unit to pay dues.   Thus, in “right to work” states unions are much weaker because they cannot afford to exist in an environment where only 10% of those covered choose to pay dues.   “Right to work” means no real unionization.

Contrary to your editorial, we are not covered by the Wagner Act.  Federal employees cannot bargain over wages, medical benefits, and pensions.  No dues money can go to political campaigns, and we as union leaders are limited in the roles we play per Hatch Act restrictions.

But, among other things, we press management to be better organized (less layers of supervision).  In other words, we often save taxpayers money by promoting efficiency.  We are the real ombudsmen in the Federal government.

I know your antiunion animus, but you should at least be accurate when making allegations.

Maybe if you knew the facts and were rational, you might even support legislation that strengthens Federal sector unions.

Of course, I do not expect such a change in your biases against unions.  I continue to read your newspaper because the price (free) is right and at least the sports and theater sections are objective.

Eddie Eitches,

President, AFGE Local 476 (HUD)

Legislative Conference Registration

If you have yet to register for this year’s Legislative and Grassroots Mobilization Conference taking place in Washington, D.C. February 12-15, 2012, please DO NOT MAIL registration forms or payment. Please hold your forms and payment for onsite registration.

Registration fees are $375 per person for Locals who register onsite.

Please call 202-639-6413 or 202-639-6412 if you have any questions.


Last Day to Pre-Register for Legislative Conference

TODAY is the last day to pre-register online for AFGE’s 2012 Legislative Conference. To pre-register, visit

If you plan to pre-register today, your payment must accompany the registration form or it will not be valid. Please DO NOT MAIL the registration form or payment after January 23, 2012, but hold for online registration.

Registration fees are:

$275 per person for Locals who pay and pre-register by January 23, 2012 (TODAY).

$375 per person for Locals who register onsite.

Please call 202-639-6413 or 202-639-6412 if you have any questions.

Register for the 2012 Legislative Conference Today!

Did you know Wade Henderson, President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, will be the guest speaker at the Civil Rights Luncheon at the 2012 Legislative Conference on Monday, February 13th?

Visit and register for the Legislative Conference TODAY!

Click here to learn more about the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Executive Order 10988

January 17th marks the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s signing of Executive Order 10988, which began collective bargaining in the federal government. Not only did this Executive Order permit workers to join and engage in union activity but it also set the stage for expanding these rights under Presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter. It demonstrated a true bipartisan show of support from past presidents for the right of federal workers to have a voice on the job, and an ability to positively impact their livelihoods.

At a time when government workers are currently under partisan attack, recognizing the significance of Executive Order 10988 is especially important to remind everyone of the long journey government workers have taken, and to re-energize workers for the battles ahead.

The AFL-CIO will commemorate this historic occasion on Tuesday, January 17th at its headquarters. National Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis is scheduled to speak. In addition, AFGE National President John Gage will introduce AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

Click here to view Executive Order 10988.

Have You Registered for the 2012 Legislative Conference?

There’s still time left to register for this year’s Legislative and Grassroots Mobilization Conference taking place in Washington, D.C. February 12–15, 2012.

This is a crucial moment for federal and D.C. government employees.  We must educate our elected officials about the value of our work and the importance of our workplace rights. Together we will create campaigns to build a stronger pro-worker bipartisan coalition in the 112th Congress.

For more information, please visit


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