Welcome to the Education Website from AFGE’s Field Services & Education Department.
Last month AFGE elected a new President, two-time Secretary-Treasurer, J. David Cox, to lead our union. He is a dedicated labor leader committed to making the voice of AFGE heard throughout the country and to building a stronger union. AFGE also celebrated our 80th anniversary as the largest federal public sector union in the country.
However, at the same time that we are celebrating the good times, we must recognize that the storm clouds are gathering on the horizon and the days ahead will be potentially hazardous for federal workers and the public in general. Threats of a continued pay freeze, serious and debilitating cuts to Medicaid, Pell grants, and job training programs are on the horizon. Yet, as always, I refuse to see these proposals as a done deal. It’s like when management comes to the table with a ridiculous proposal. We take it in stride as part of the process in negotiating a contract or an agreement. However, the other side of the table has been amassing their forces for years and is now prepared for a full frontal assault. We need to build a strong defense to this aggression.
To build a strong union movement though, it takes more than a strong President, it takes you. All of us, staff, each of our Locals, all of our members must re-dedicate ourselves to the fight that is taking place. In small towns and big cities, in the workplaces and in the neighborhoods, AFGE should be a force to be reckoned with fighting for the 99%.
Looking back at labor’s history, there were two eras when a substantial section of the labor movement were engaged in the struggle for progressive change. The early 1900s saw the Populist movement influence the economics and the politics of the era and the 1930s saw the CIO and other organizations push forward the New Deal and progressive changes that benefited the majority. Labor and our allies were in the halls of Congress, but equally important, we were in the streets winning over sympathetic organizations and individuals to our cause. The reason was simple; in labor’s cause people recognized their own cause. The fight for the 8-hour day, the struggle for social security, and standing up for establishing a minimum wage are not simply the struggles of yesterday. Today issues, equally if not more important, are being discussed and debated and we need to build our forces to have influence on the issues.
Whether we are talking about privatization, voter suppression, or the government shutdown, we along with our allies have to mount a strong defense against the ongoing assault.
On a regular basis I will be updating this part of our website with thoughts and observations regarding the union movement and labor union activity with a particular focus on how we can strengthen AFGE. We look forward to your feedback. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
–Bill Fletcher, Jr.