Federal employees union opens digital door to members

Information services officers at the American Federation of Government Employees headquarters in Washington, D.C., have begun to use some new web technologies in an attempt to make the largest federal employee's union's online offerings more useful.

Officers on Aug. 12 unveiled a tool that streamlines online content found on the group’s local websites with updates from its national chapter. In addition to LaborWeb, the labor group is also implementing Google Apps to make it easier for officers in local chapters to be more consistent with their e-mail addresses.

Google Apps isn't exactly cutting-edge in an era when agency employees are growing used to cloud computing and accessing the web via mobile devices, but LaborWeb can be seen as “both a platform and a content management system,” said Rodrigo Munera, web developer at AFGE. The goal is to provide local AGFE chapters an easily maintained public-facing website they can use to communicate with their members, he said. 

Each website will feature AFGE-related news on both local and national levels. The platform also serves as a medium for the main organization to communicate messages to all its members at once.

“The consistency of messaging and branding is the biggest thing we’re going for with this particular product, and we can take the load off our local officers,” Taylor Higley, AFGE’s director of information services, said in a release. “Any time our technology can make it so that they don’t have to do something or learn something completely new, and can instead spend an extra hour a day serving members, that’s a good thing.”

The overall focus, however, will be to extend the group's reach and convey its purpose, Higley said.

“I don’t think there’s enough awareness about what AFGE is, how big and important it is and exactly what we do here,” he said. “With this technology, we’re going to make federal employees’ lives a little bit better and it will be a win-win for everybody.”

There are “some ideas” on how to enhance LaborWeb in the future, but nothing concrete yet, Munera said. The initial steps, however, include training staff and members on how to use LaborWeb; video tutorials will aid with that and have been posted on the main website. 
 

About the Author

Camille Tuutti is a former FCW staff writer who covered federal oversight and the workforce.

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