I decided it was time to retire from the federal government. There were multiple reasons for this decision and no individual reason was the primary factor. Let me just say that a colleague once told me that I would know when it was time to move on and that time has come.
It has been my honor to serve as the AFGE Local 1812 President for so many years and though I am retiring from my federal government position, I remain in the fight as a retired member of AFGE Local 1812 and will stay on as Local President for a while.
There are numerous colleagues I would like to thank for their assistance and support through these many years – so many that I am afraid if I were to start naming names, I would leave some people undeservedly unmentioned. So, I’ll just say that you know who you are, and I thank you all. I especially thank those who were more experienced union members and shared their knowledge of how to draft grievances, unfair labor practices, how to negotiate, and in general how to exercise our rights as union workers without fear because the law allowed us to do all these things. We learn these things from fellow members because management does not want us to know or exercise them. I also want to thank every member, past and present, of AFGE Local 1812 – without the numbers we would have no power.
I deeply believe that the Union movement is important. Most work sites are structured more like a feudal system than a democratic one and the labor movement has allowed a small measure of democracy to be introduced into our working lives. We need more of it.
People who are not independently wealthy and must work for a living deserve to be treated as human beings with human rights. Those rights should not be stripped away when entering the work site. The right of working people to even have a partial say in their working conditions is the result of a long struggle and it is far from over. In fact, it is currently under fierce attack. The limited rights that working people currently have are being methodically ripped away by those who would like to turn back the clock and erase the gains working people have made. We should not take these rights for granted. We cannot depend on some benevolent employer or government to improve our working conditions. We must demand, guard, and expand them ourselves. As Frederick Douglass said “power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
The Federal Government should be the model employer and compared to some working people, there are some advantages to working for the federal government. Now there are some powerful forces that are at work to eliminate these advantages. It seems that the rights of workers are under attack everywhere.
It is time for a new infusion of blood, of enthusiasm, and of youth in our Local and for every federal employee union. If you support having the ability to improve your working conditions and to oppose unjust management, now is the time to take on a leadership role in your Local or to join for the first time. It’s a fight worth making.
AFGE Local 1812