NFFE beats AFGE in battle to represent Defense workers

klunney@govexec.com

The National Federation of Federal Employees has won a small battle in the ongoing turf war between federal unions to represent agency employees.

Defense Logistics Agency employees in Letterkenny, Pa. recently chose NFFE to represent them, instead of the American Federation of Government Employees.

AFGE and NFFE have a long history of competing for representation at federal agencies. Both organizations are affiliated with the AFL-CIO.

In 1998, the DLA workforce at Letterkenny, Pa. was reduced to 40 employees. DLA management told employees that as a result, they would no longer be represented by NFFE or AFGE.

Both unions filed petitions contesting this decision. AFGE said the employees should be covered by an AFGE local at New Cumberland, Pa. NFFE called for an election to allow DLA employees to decide which union should represent them. The Federal Labor Relations Authority agreed with NFFE, and ordered the election.

"Had [the DLA employees] not been brave enough to protect their right to choose, AFGE would have been forced on them," said Deborah Witherspoon, NFFE Local 1442 president.

NFFE represents a much smaller constituency than AFGE, which is the largest union for government employees.

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