Born in the depths of the Great Depression, the American Federation of Government Employees formed in 1932 at one of the most uncertain periods in our nation’s history. Elected officials had crippled the civil service, wage cuts and furloughs were on the rise and promotions and leave privileges were hard to come by. Back then, federal employees lacked many of the basic rights they enjoy today, such as health insurance, overtime pay and weekends without work.
During the next two decades, new chapters began to pop up across the country, bringing with it greater leverage to represent their members. In 1945, after years of pay freezes, AFGE secured a near-16 percent pay increase with the passage of the Federal Pay Act — the largest single-pay increase before or since. In the 1950s, AFGE fought for and won the introduction of within-grade pay increases, transportation allowances for transferred workers and payment for accrued annual leave, overtime and night and holiday work.
But even up to the 1960s, AFGE didn’t have true bargaining rights. After years of work, President John F. Kennedy in 1962 proclaimed that “the right of federal employees to deal collectively with the federal departments and agencies in which they are employed should be protected” in Executive Order 10988, which established for the first time the right of federal employees to exercise their voice in the workplace.
In the half-century since winning real bargaining rights, AFGE has extended the dignity of a union contract to more than 670,000 government employees in thousands of federal and Washington, D.C., government facilities across the country. Today AFGE stands as one of the largest and most influential forces for worker, civil and human rights in the world.
The union is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and divided into 12 geographical districts consisting of some 1,100 locals. More than one-half of AFGE’s members are consolidated into agency-wide bargaining units. Agencies with the highest concentration of union membership include the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Social Security Administration and the Department of Justice.
American Federation of Government Employees, Local 2317 is in the fifth district and is the second-largest local union, representing about 2,200 bargaining unit employees here that include Defense Commissary Agency, Defense Logistics Agency, Non-Appropriated Fund Instrumentality and Marine Corps employees.
AFGE, Local 2317 is in Building 3600; its phone numbers are 229-435-3800 and 229-639-5526.