50 Years Later

NTEU Celebrates Collective Bargaining


Dear NTEU Member:


On January 17, 2012, we will mark the 50th anniversary of an event that not only touched the lives of everyone who has worked for the federal government since then, it has bettered those lives—and continues to do so today.   

President Kennedy

The occasion is the signing, on Jan. 17, 1962, by President John F. Kennedy of an executive order establishing the right of federal employees to bargain collectively. That order has given a voice to federal employees and allowed them to work through NTEU and other federal unions to make vast improvements in government workplaces across the country.

Federal sector collective bargaining has helped produce a stable, highly-educated, experienced civil service that is the envy of the world. It has worked to keep politics out of the federal workplace; to protect scientific integrity; to provide protection for those who would expose waste, fraud and abuse; and to drive innovation in federal agencies.

Moreover, it has been a crucial pillar of support for NTEU’s mission of ensuring that every federal employee is treated with dignity and respect, and that your contributions to the well-being of our nation are recognized and appreciated.

Closer to your everyday work life, the benefits of collective bargaining are all around you. It could be NTEU contract language assuring a fair promotion process; or a grievance procedure with a path to a neutral third-party decision-maker; an awards program; or the opportunity to enjoy an alternative work schedule or work on flexiplace; or a transparent performance appraisal process with your right to point out your good work to your supervisor and to appeal disputes; and so much more.

The long road begun by the Kennedy executive order—and later made law in the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978—continues unabated today.

At present, NTEU is bargaining nearly two dozen contracts. Some cover many thousands of employees, others perhaps a few hundred or less. But each covers issues that both the union and management, whatever the agency, agree need to be addressed.

Every day NTEU works to ensure that we use your collective bargaining rights to full advantage for you and for the country: to advocate for employees, to speak out against wrongs, to seek new and better ways to serve the public and to ensure that the highly professional men and women of the federal workforce are able to contribute their most each day. That is our commitment to you and to the nation.



Colleen M. Kelley

Colleen M. Kelley
National President


“...to ensure that every federal employee is treated with dignity and respect.".”