Union Leader Dies

letters@govexec.com, amaxwell@govexec.com

John Sturdivant, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal employees' union, died Tuesday night after a year-long battle with leukemia. He was 59.

Sturdivant was elected in 1988 as the first African-American to head AFGE and the first to be president of any major AFL-CIO union. In August of this year he was reelected to a fourth term as AFGE's national president.

He was diagnosed with leukemia in December and had undergone extensive chemotherapy over the last year.

Sturdivant served on the National Partnership Council, advocating better labor-management relationships in federal agencies. He helped push the passage of Hatch Act reform, which allowed federal employees to become more politically active. He frequently appeared before Congress in support of union positions on issues ranging from privatization to bargaining rights.

Under Sturdivant's leadership, AFGE recently embarked on a "follow the work" initiative, an effort to maintain relationships with employees even after their facilities were privatized. When the Indianapolis Naval Air Warfare Center was privatized, AFGE negotiated a labor contract with Hughes Aircraft.

Born in Philadelphia on June 30, 1938, Sturdivant was raised in Bridgeport, Connecticut. In 1956, he enlisted in the Air Force. He began his civilian career in 1961 as an employee of the Army Interagency Communications Agency in Winchester, Va. Sturdivant rose through the leadership ranks of Local 1754 in Winchester, serving as local president from 1968 to 1976. In 1976, he accepted a staff position with the AFGE National Office in Washington. He was elected vice president of the AFL-CIO Executive Council in 1989.

Sturdivant was named one of Ebony Magazine's 100 Most Influential Blacks in America and was presented with a Spirit of Democracy Award by the National Coalition on Black Voter Participation, Inc. (NCBVP) for advocating civic participation in the African-American community.

He is survived by his daughter and mother.

AFGE National Secretary-Treasurer Bobby Harnage will serve out the remainder of Sturdivant's three-year term.

President Clinton issued the following statement:

"For more than 30 years, John played a vital role in the success of the American trade union movement. A born organizer, his determination, leadership and commitment were central ingredients to the growth of AGFE - the largest government employee union.

A champion of labor-management partnerships, he played an important and highly visible role in our initiative to reinvent government. He was a true hero of the reinvention process and his efforts contributed in a great measure to a government that really works for all citizens.

I saw his commitment to federal employees first-hand when we worked together during the Oklahoma City tragedy. He was a man who considered every government worker - AGFE member or not -- his sister or brother. His vision and creative leadership in improving the safety and security for all federal employees at work will be just one of his legacies.

But another legacy will be his tenacity and strength - which he clearly demonstrated during the government shutdowns in 1995. These events were truly defining moments for John and his union. His leadership was an inspiration to all of us and I was very proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with him in this fight."

Vice President Al Gore described Sturdivant as a "warm, caring and dedicated person."

"He was a good friend, and an important ally in some of our most important initiatives," Gore said in a statement. "He cared deeply about this country, and the role that government can play in making life better for Americans.

"John was a tireless voice for the federal employees that he represented. He was at the center of a new partnership between federal managers and employees that is critical to moving the federal government forward into the 21st century."

A funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, November 4 in Springfield, Va. The family requests that contributions be made instead of flowers to Life With Cancer, Fairfax Hospital, 3300 Gallows Road, Falls Church, Va. 22042. For more information on the funeral, call 202-639-6419.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    View
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    View
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    View
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    View
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    View
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    View
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    View

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.