AFGE’s story is America’s story.
Our union began with a simple belief—that
by working together, government employees
from all across America can build a better
workplace and country.
Born in the depths of the Great Depression,
AFGE 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, like
health insurance, overtime pay, and weekends
But amidst all of this struggle, our founders
saw a better future – a future of their choice
– that would only be possible if they grew in
size, strength, and solidarity.
Over the next two decades, new chapters
were organized across the country, bringing
with them greater power for federal workers.
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, federal employees
didn’t have true bargaining rights. After
years of pressure from an increasingly
powerful AFGE, 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 DC 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.
But as the attacks on unions mount, and
billionaires continue their campaign to
destroy the middle class, AFGE must step
up to the plate and do our part to save
the American dream. The odds are long,
and our enemies formidable, but we have
accomplished more in our 80-year history
than our founders ever imagined. We have
made the impossible possible before, and
with your help, we will do it again. Just as
workers defeated the robber barons of the
19th century, so too will we reclaim the
America we all aspire to be.
AFGE’s story is America’s story, and the next
chapter will be written by all of us.