WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio --
How do you ensure the individual needs of all employees are met when your workforce numbers are over 35,000 people? One effective way is to use the “unified voice” of the American Federation of Government Employees Council 214, which serves as the bargaining unit for employees within Air Force Materiel Command.
AFGE Council 214 is a union that works with AFMC to represent employees to ensure a healthy and safe work environment.
The U.S. Department of Labor defines a labor union as a group of two or more employees who join to advance common interests such as wages, benefits, schedules and other employment terms and conditions.
“Unions are a valuable partner that provide a unified voice on behalf of workers,” Bryan Jackson, AFMC employee and labor relations branch chief, Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma. They work to protect employee interests in many areas, such as safety and working conditions
Each AFMC installation has their own local level unions to report issues, problems or comments. Together the locals make up the national AFGE Council 214, which represents nearly every installation throughout AFMC.
AFGE Council 214 utilizes the Master Labor Agreement, a collective contract between them and AFMC that discusses most aspects of AFMC employment such as annual and sick leave, travel pay, childcare services, position classification, eating facilities and many more topics.
Discussions about the labor agreement are held between AFGE Council 214 and the AFMC labor relations office, which represents AFMC leaders and management in negotiations with the union.
“The labor agreement allows the union to do a good job of conveying the interests of the workforce,” said Jackson. “It is better to have that system instead of having individuals discuss these topics with every supervisor within AFMC. Their one collective voice has a lot more power than one single individual.”
The labor agreement affects all nonsupervisory, nonprofessional employees paid from appropriated funds, whether they are a member of the union or not. It outlines who is eligible for union coverage and the additional benefits of that coverage.
The labor agreement reads “each bargaining unit employee has the right to fair and equal representation by the Union regardless of dues-paying status.” However, it states, “the union has no duty to represent non-dues paying bargaining unit employees in situations where statutory appeals procedures are elected.”
The Union and AFMC installations are working to establish a better relationship by having routine meetings throughout the year to have more efficient and positive communication.
“As a command we value the union and the roles they take in our operations,” said Jackson. “Developing a strong partnership could potentially result in higher quality of life due to a lot more worker input to the day-to-day output of installations.”
The union encourages more employee participation.
“There is strength in numbers,” said Troy Tingey, president of AFGE Council 214. “The more employee involvement we get with our union the better. AFMC employees will see we want to educate them in matters at the legislative and work level.”
According to Tingey there are several ways to become involved with the local union. First, seek out a union steward, who are placed at installations to inform employees about their protected rights through the major labor agreement, along with several other work benefits. If there is not a union steward at an installation, seek the nearest work bulletin board for union point of contacts.
Another method is visiting the AFGE website, which contains resources, a copy of the Master Labor Agreement, a frequently asked questions tab and a section under the “about us” tab to contact local union offices.
The AFGE Council 214 website can be found here: https://afgecouncil214.org/.