First civil service union celebrates 90 years

The first labor union to represent federal civil service employees in the United States is celebrating its 90-year anniversary.

The National Federation of Federal Employees was founded in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 17, 1917, making Monday the 90-year mark. The union is drafting language with the hope of securing a resolution in Congress commemorating its 90-year history.

"I am proud to have the privilege to be the president of NFFE on this historic occasion," said Richard Brown, the union's leader. "We want to reiterate our thanks to the membership, because they have sustained us throughout the years."

NFFE was formed just five years after Congress passed the Lloyd-LaFollette Act, which overturned an executive order by Theodore Roosevelt that had prevented federal employees from engaging in unionized activity.

Today, the union is affiliated with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and with them, represents nearly 100,000 federal workers in agencies including the Defense and State departments and the General Services Administration.

Since its founding, NFFE has lobbied for increased pay and benefits, expanded health insurance coverage and improved support systems. In 1919, it began advocating a system to classify federal jobs as a basis for determining compensation.

In 1923, Congress passed the Classification Act, which established compensation levels and tied them to certain duties and responsibilities of job positions. According to NFFE, decreases in turnover and improvements in morale were evident across the federal workforce as a result.

From its founding, NFFE also has been a strong advocate for women's rights, electing a woman to chair its first national council. In 1963, NFFE was a major proponent in the passage of the Equal Pay Act, which mandated equity between men and women in the workplace.

Today, the union is a key player in backing collective bargaining and appeal rights of employees. It is part of the nine-union coalition that waged a legal battle against the labor relations and appeals portions of the Defense Department's new National Security Personnel System. The court battle is likely over for most unions in the coalition, with the exception of the American Federation of Government Employees, which is considering a solo Supreme Court challenge of a May appeals court loss. But the other coalition members including NFFE continue to pursue legislative remedies.

"We work for America every day," Brown said. "We have been doing it since 1917, and we will continue for another 90 years, God willing."

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:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


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