Major federal employee union backs Kerry

Late Friday the American Federation of Government Employees endorsed Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., for president after a formal vote of about 600 delegates attending an organizing and mobilizing conference in Pittsburgh.

In a briefing for reporters, AFGE President John Gage said that the 210,000-member union believes Kerry would reverse President Bush's efforts to outsource government jobs and revamp civil service rules.

Kerry, Gage added, "strongly opposes the use of quotas in contracting out federal jobs. He supports the rights of federal employees to form and join unions. He opposes taking away overtime rights for workers across the country and he opposes converting Social Security to a system of private accounts."

AFGE members are therefore ready to mobilize on Kerry's behalf, Gage said. "This election is going to be won on the ground," he said. Gage is working to boost the percentage of AFGE members who vote for Kerry to 73 percent of the total union membership, as opposed to the 68 percent that voted for Al Gore, AFGE's presidential choice in 2000.

Gage said he is confident that he will achieve that goal. "We've seen quite a turnaround among our more conservative members in [the Defense Department], the Border Patrol and law enforcement," he said, because of the Bush administration's efforts to revamp personnel rules at the Pentagon and the Homeland Security Department.

Congress passed legislation in 2002 and 2003 that will allow those departments to replace the General Schedule with a pay-for-performance system that union leaders believe will lead to cronyism.

Gage said that he is heading up get-out-the-vote efforts in the battleground state of New Mexico, which Gore won by about 400 votes in 2000, on behalf of the larger union movement, and that AFGE activists were focusing on 15 battleground states.

The union has about $1 million to spend on a media campaign that will include targeted advertising highlighting AFGE's criticisms of Bush's Medicare, Veterans Affairs and Social Security policies.

At the same time, Gage has been mindful not to alienate Republican union members, which AFGE estimates at between 20 percent and 30 percent of total membership. Many care deeply about nonunion issues such as abortion and gun control. In 2000, the AFGE joined with its umbrella union--the AFL-CIO--in endorsing Gore more than a year before the election, a decision Gage felt was a mistake. "A good percentage of our members are Republican and coming out during the primaries seems to inflame them," he said.

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

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

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


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