Saturday, August 18, 2012

AFGE Week in Review - Aug. 18, 2012

Aug. 18, 2012
J. David Cox Elected AFGE National President: J. David Cox on Aug. 15 was elected National President of AFGE during the union's 39th national convention in Las Vegas. Eugene Hudson Jr. was elected National-Secretary Treasurer, while Augusta Thomas was re-elected National Vice President for Women’s and Fair Practices. The national officers were sworn in Thursday morning.
Cox rises to the union’s top position after serving two consecutive terms as AFGE’s National Secretary-Treasurer, where he helped the union add more than 52,000 new members and expand the size and scope of AFGE’s political action committee and its legislative action fund.Cox said he would work on strengthening the union by embracing the union’s diverse membership and building consensus among members.
“The strength of unity is the only way we are going to fight back against the anti-government and anti-union forces that want to dismantle the vital programs and services federal employees provide each and every day to millions of Americans,” Cox said. “I am honored and humbled that AFGE’s members chose me to lead this fight.”
Hudson has served as National Vice President for the 12th District since 1999. The 12th District represents nearly 33,000 members across 100 AFGE Locals in Arizona, California, Hawaii and Nevada.
Thomas was first elected National Vice President for Women’s and Fair Practices in August 2009. Previously she was Fair Practices coordinator for AFGE’s 6th District, which represents employees in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.
Nearly 2,000 delegates from across the country attened AFGE's convention that took place Aug. 13-17 in Las Vegas. Attendees heard from several speakers including AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker, U.S. Congresswoman Shelly Berkley of Nevada, and Ohio Senator Nina Turner. They also saw videos from the President and congressional leaders such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.); Sens. Dick Durban (Ill.), Barbara Mikulski (Md.) Jon Tester (Mont.); House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.); U.S. Reps. Jim Clyburn (S.C.), Steve Israel (N.Y.), Stephen Lynch (Mass.), and Elijah Cummings (Md.)
AFGE Kicks off YOUNG Program to Mobilize Young Workers into AFGE, Labor Movement:
Nearly 200 young union members took part in AFGE’s first ever Young Organizing Unionists for the Next Generation (YOUNG) summit in Las Vegas this week. The participants learned about labor history, issues facing workers, what’s at stake at national and state levels, and what they can do to make a difference. The summit, which coincided with the union’s 39th convention, provided great networking opportunities among the young workers themselves and seasoned mentors, whose experience and insight are invaluable.
AFGE introduced the YOUNG program as about 70 percent of AFGE members are over the age of 40 and 63 percent of those are 50 and older, who will be eligible to retire within the next 10 years. This exodus will leave a huge leadership voice and loss of institutional memory and skills to move the union forward. The YOUNG program seeks to fill the gap by mobilizing young union members to become leaders and recruiting young workers into AFGE and the labor movement. AFGE is encouraging our Locals to include younger workers into your union structure and keep them engaged in issues facing working class Americans.
“If we don’t educate young people about our struggle, we will be in danger of losing what we fought for,” said AFGE National Vice President for Women's and Fair Practices Augusta Thomas, a major supporter of the YOUNG program.
AFGE National President J. David Cox said young workers bring new ideas, uniqueness and enthusiasm to AFGE. Their participation is particularly needed now that the number of union membership has decreased over the last 50 years. Nearly 40 percent of all workers in the U.S. used to be unionized, but the number has slipped below 10 percent today. Cox said part of the problems is that most young workers are learning about unions from the anti-union media, not from their parents whose union membership changed their lives. The recent attacks on unions makes it even harder to recruit young workers, most of whom don’t even know that the unions brought them the eight-hour work day, sick leave, weekends, paid vacations, overtime pay, pensions, minimum wage, employer health care insurance, Social Security, and so on.
“If young workers are not interested in defending their retirement benefits that we fought for and won, I promise you they will take them away.…I’m asking you to reach out and mentor younger workers,” Cox said.
Frank Fragomene, a lead AFGE YOUNG activist, urged young workers to get involved in the labor movement and speak up against social injustices that will affect their future. He said the corporate world is resorting to the oldest trick of war – divide and conquer, meaning it’s better for them if they can stop young workers from seeing the whole picture, from sticking together.
Study Finds Right Wing's Rationale to Require Voter ID Is Baseless: A new study confirms previous studies that voter fraud in general in rare and that the right wing's state laws requiring voter ID at polls is baseless. The new study, which was conducted by a nonpartisan investigative news project funded by the Carnegie and Knight foundations, confirms what AFGE and other civil rights groups have been saying all along – that the right wing’s voter ID laws are designed to suppress voter turnout. 

GSA Freezes 2013 Travel Per Diem Rates at 2012 Levels: The General Services Administrationannounced this week it is freezing travel per diem rates for fiscal 2013.
“GSA is undergoing a rigorous review process to find ways in which we can streamline agency operations and save money across the government,” said Acting Administrator Daniel Tangherlini. ”By keeping per diem rates at current levels, we are supporting federal agencies in controlling costs and ensuring that taxpayer dollars are used wisely.”

AFGE's Website Gets a Face Lift: Check out our website's sleek new look! AFGE is proud to introduce our new website that's more user friendly and easier to navigate. The new website was launched during the national convention,where our IT experts were on hand to help Locals and Councils set up their easy to use websites at no charge.

This Week in Labor History: Aug. 14, 1935 - President Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act, providing, for the first time ever, guaranteed income for retirees and creating a system of unemployment benefits.
Inside Government: Tune in now to AFGE´s "Inside Government" as former Virginia governor Tim Kaine praises the work of federal employees. The show, which originally aired on Friday, Aug. 10, is now available on demand. Kaine, a U.S. Senate candidate, recently held a town hall forum in Arlington, Va. to highlight the role of federal employees and the public services they provide. Kaine also shared his thoughts on sequestration and job creation. But first, former AFGE National President John Gagediscussed details of the union´s agreement with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on the first-ever labor contract for the nation´s 45,000 TSA officers. Gage, who recently announced he would not seek re-election as AFGE president, discussed his proudest accomplishments leading the nation´s largest federal employee union. Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale also addressed Pennsylvania´s controversial voter identification law and his organization´s efforts ahead of the 2012 election season.
Listen LIVE on Fridays at 10 a.m. on 1500 AM WFED in the D.C. area or online at

Quote of the Week
AFGE's newly elected National President J. David Cox following his election to the top position at AFGE:
“The strength of unity is the only way we are going to fight back against the anti-government and anti-union forces that want to dismantle the vital programs and services federal employees provide each and every day to millions of Americans. I am honored and humbled that AFGE’s members chose me to lead this fight.”

American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO 80 F Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001 | Tel. (202) 737-8700 | Fax (202) 639-6492

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