The AFL-CIO has lent the American Federation of Government Employees $1.5 million as part of a financial rescue package for the union, sources said yesterday.

The AFGE acknowledged that it had received financial aid from the labor federation shortly before Christmas, but would not comment on either the amount of the loan or the terms of repayment.

Sources familiar with the rescue plan said four AFL-CIO unions had each contributed $300,000 to the AFGE bailout. Sources identified the unions as the Communications Workers of America, American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, Service Employees International Union and the National Association of Letter Carriers. In addition, the AFL-CIO has contributed $300,000.

AFGE President Kenneth T. Blaylock asked the AFL-CIO for financial aid in early November. He said the money was needed to help the union organize new members.

All four unions involved in the rescue plan have public employe membership and all four have been mentioned as possible merger partners should the AFGE fail in its efforts to win new members.

The AFGE is the bargaining agent for about 700,000 government workers, nearly 100,000 in the Washington-Baltimore area. The union also represents about 6,000 District of Columbia employes. But while AFGE bargains for nearly 700,000 government workers, only 207,000 of them belong to the union and pay dues. In the last 15 years, the AFGE has lost nearly half its membership.

In a statement last month, Blaylock said that "while the union remains financially sound overall, the NEC {National Executive Council} has decided to realign the union's priorities and devote more resources to an already successful organizing campaign that is currently and consistently producing more than 3,200 new members per month."

But other unions in the AFL-CIO expressed doubt that the AFGE can survive much past this summer without either finding new ways to raise money or substantially increasing its membership.