Back in 2012 David Cox won the AFGE National Presidency in a squeaker with 51% of the vote, but a short three years later he roared back into the job last week with 63% of the vote. Given AFGE’s tradition of deciding winners by razor thin margins, it is worth looking at how Cox got such an historically wide support so quickly.

First, Cox further energized AFGE’s amazing membership building effort since 1999 that got it a NET INCREASE of 100,000 members. To give you an idea how big that is, the next biggest federal sector union only has 79,000 members after more than 75 years of operation, making it a little more than one-fourth the size of AFGE. Cox got there by giving locals $100.00 for every new member it enrolled. Although it certainly helped that he quickly signed up over 15,000 new members in TSA once AFGE beat NTEU in the election, he also figured out how to get long time locals with chronically low membership to grow.

Second, he led AFGE members through the so-called scandal at the Department of Veteran Affairs with great success. Congress quickly increased the VA budget to hire more staff, and then focused its blame on executives rather than front line employees who most often are the sacrificial lambs in these Congressional hunts. Dave stood up very early with a PR campaign signaling that the union was ready to make sure bargaining unit employees were not punished.

Third, Cox has done something amazing with the union’s political action fund (PAC). In the election cycle ending in 2012 AFGE’s political action fund raised $580,000. However, in the cycle ending 2014 AFGE raised $2.2 million. That is a phenomenal achievement, especially when compared to similar unions.

Fourth, as we pointed out when he first became national president modernized he immediately modernized AFGE’s web site, making it far more useful to members and local representatives searching for an answer.

Fifth, David has not shied away from backing major social justice initiatives. He has very publicly associated himself and the union with efforts to raise the minimum wage, private sector pension bankruptcy schemes, and fighting extremist legislation in some Southern states. That kind of outreach can only help build the image of unionism in the eyes of most age-earning Americans.

Sixth, he has found a way to give pre-decisional involvement in national union decisions to the three levels of union leadership, namely, his national vice presidents who preside over multi-agency geographic regions, the more than 1,000 local union presidents, and, in between, the leaders of the nearly two dozen AFGE councils composed of local union leaders who make the representation decisions about the nationwide units they represent, such as SSA, VA, EPA, Bureau of Prisons, Border Patrol, etc..

Seventh, Cox presided over a more than 50% increase in AFGE’s national spending raising the budget from $79 million in 2009 when he took over as Secretary-Treasurer to $137 million this past March.

While there is no such thing as the federal sector union “President of the Year” award, David’s achievements on membership and PAC growth alone would make him the candidate to beat–by a long distance.

Congrats President Cox and AFGE.

About AdminUN

FEDSMILL staff has over 40 years of federal sector labor relations experience on the union as well as management side of the table and even some time as a neutral.
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