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AFGE Mourns the Passing of National Vice President Dwight Bowman

NVP Bowman oversaw D.C. government/federal worker members.

The American Federation of Government Employees today mourned the loss of its 14th District national vice president, Dwight Bowman, who passed away unexpectedly this morning.

“It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to a union brother, effective leader and dear friend,” AFGE National President J. David Cox said. “Our thoughts are with his wife, Gwendlyn, and the rest of his family.”

AFGE has little information about Bowman’s death at this time. Details on a memorial service and information for where to send letters of condolence will be forthcoming.

Bowman was serving his third term as national vice president of AFGE’s District 14, which covers Washington, D.C., Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland, and Arlington and Fairfax counties and the City of Alexandria in Virginia.

Bowman had been an AFGE activist for close to four decades, beginning his career as president of AFGE Local 2463, Smithsonian Institution. During that time, Smithsonian employees were not protected by federal EEO or Labor Relations laws and regulations. Bowman was successful in establishing unity within Local 2463, persuading another Local to merge with his Local, and in 1979, they successfully negotiated a master contract agreement which covered those areas under EEO and Labor Relations laws.

Bowman held many other positions within AFGE and throughout the Labor movement, including president of AFGE’s National Capital Area Council 1, Labor Representative on the District of Columbia’s Nuclear Freeze Board, member of the Executive Committee of the Minority Coalition, and National President of the Society of Federal Labor and Employee Relations Professionals.

Bowman most recently sat on the Board of the Maryland State and District of Columbia AFL-CIO, the Metropolitan Washington Central Labor Council, and the Partnership Council for the District of Columbia.

He is survived by his wife, son, mother, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

AFGE Celebrates Its Own Black History

In the 1940s, segregation in Washington, DC was widespread and African Americans were limited to blue-collar jobs while white Americans held professional positions. In 1968, AFGE members voted to create the Fair Practices Department in response to racist policies and practices in the federal government.

The labor movement is always compared with the civil rights movement in that both promote equal rights, integration, and fairness. AFGE’s National Vice President for the Women’s and Fair Practices, Augusta Thomas, is a representation of the link between the two movements.

National Vice President Augusta Thomas

In 1960, NVP Thomas and her sister traveled hundreds of miles from Kentucky to participate in the famous Greensboro, NC sit-ins.

She recalled the sit-ins in an interview a few years ago. “February the 12th, I sat in. February 13th I sat in and both days I got spit on, I got knocked off the stool, I back up, I got back on the stool,” said NVP Thomas. “They knocked us off, they would kick us and they would take sticks and beat us.”

NVP Thomas even went to jail with other protestors on Valentine’s Day in 1960. “I knew that I could have been jailed for the rest of my life,” she said. “I could have been killed but I felt that I had a job to do in order to help other people.”

Thomas was elected to lead the Women’s and Fair Practices department in 2009 and is dedicated to protecting the civil, human, women’s and workers’ rights of federal and D.C. government workers.

AFGE Black History Fact:

  • AFGE Local 383 was founded in 1937 by African Americans at the Industrial Home School in Blue Plains in Washington, DC.

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