Colleen M. Kelley won a fourth term as president of the National Treasury Employees Union Tuesday, smothering her opponent with 86 percent of the vote at the organization’s convention in Seattle.
Her victory comes as the federal government faces budget reductions that could result in cuts to employees’ pay and benefits.
Eddie Walker, a NTEU chapter president in Austin, counted on the union’s recent defeat in a major organizing contest with the American Federation of Government Employees to fuel his attempt to unseat Kelley. AFGE beat NTEU in the campaign to represent more than 40,000 transportation security officers in June.
But that and his claim that Kelley did not communicate enough with union leaders did not resonate in his second attempt to oust Kelley.
He said he was “a little surprised,” by the margin of his defeat, but added “we’re happy that we are able to air our issues and give people a choice.”
When the vote was announced, Kelley was sitting in the back of the Westin Hotel ballroom, where union delegates were debating routine motions. She stood and waved as they gave her a standing ovation, then hugged her family as the delegates dutifully returned to regular union business. There was no victory speech, no celebratory demonstrations, no gloating.
Kelley credited her victory to “the relationship I have with chapter leaders, the work I do with them everyday, the mutual respect we have for each other and what we have accomplished the last 12 years working together and the work we still have to do.”
Much of that work will focus on fighting budget cuts to federal agencies and proposals for furloughs or cuts to employee benefits or an extension to the current two-year employee pay freeze.
“When the new Congress came to town, many lawmakers wasted no time in letting us know they had little respect for federal workers,” she told the convention before the vote. “Well, I have news for them: While we will gladly work with anyone who will work with us, when we cannot — when ideology overwhelms common sense and respect for workers — we will go under, over, around or through those who will not work with us.
“And we will never give up.”
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