PRESIDENT KELLEY RETIRES FROM NTEU
Colleen Kelley, a fixture around NTEU for decades, announced today that she will leave office this August. She first made an impact as president of the NTEU IRS chapter in Pittsburgh, PA where she nearly doubled the local’s membership overnight once she was elected. Not long afterwards, Bob Tobias, the previous NTEU National President, tapped her for a major committee assignment at the NTEU convention and to serve on the IRS national bargaining team. Then, when Tobias needed someone to focus the union on membership building, he hired her away from IRS in 1988 to run that critical program. From there, he put her in charge of all the administrative elements of a national union, e.g., finance, information technology, property, etc. Given her rapid ascension inside the union, it was no surprise when Tobias asked the convention delegates to elect her as National Executive Vice President in 1995, putting her in the “heir apparent” position for when he retired in 1999.
She has led the union for 16 years. Although NTEU is not the largest union, does not have the highest percentage of members, isn’t the wealthiest, nor has it generated more case decisions than any other federal union, she managed to have considerable clout on behalf of her members and other federal employees. She enriched the union representational structure Tobias put in place, became known for her focus on the details of representing federal employees, worked ridiculously long hours, and campaigned tirelessly to convince agency officials of the value of pre-decisional involvement–as well as the help the union could be to them where they had mutual interests. In short, she made the lives of thousands of people represented by NTEU better.
With her retirement, the clock has begun ticking on the process to replace her. Frank Ferris, a 38-year veteran of NTEU and Kelley’s National Executive Vice President for 14 years, worked hard to step aside in 2013 so that a younger person could assume his slot, learn more about running the union, and be ready to replace Kelley when the time came. While it remains to be seen whether Ferris’ successor runs for the top job and who runs with him, the convention delegates will at least have the option of choosing one person with national executive leadership experience rather than be faced with putting people into both the top NTEU officer slots without any experience. FEDSMILL has been working on an article entitled, “What Next for NTEU” to explain the options it has for the future and how they could impact people inside and outside NTEU. Kelley’s retirement makes that all the more relevant. So, stay tuned.
In the meantime, we want to say, “Thank you, Colleen. You did good. Enjoy a long and happy retirement.”