AFGE EPA Council’s New Leadership Sets Priorities for 2022

Marie Owens Powell has recently been elected president for AFGE Council 238 by acclamation. Powell was the local president of AFGE Local 3631 in Philadelphia, which represents EPA workers across Region 3.

Powell together with the Council Executive Board appointed Joyce Howell, former AFGE Local 3631 vice president, to fill the executive vice president position, which had been vacant.

The announcements come as the council announced the ratification of major contract wins that strengthened telework, remote work, and work schedule flexibility.

“As Council 238 President, I am proud to lead AFGE Council 238 as EPA employees continue to fight to strengthen our workplace, ensure a stronger voice on the job, and protect the health and safety of our communities,” said Powell. “I’m grateful to my colleagues for their trust and encouragement. Together, we are ensuring the future of work at the EPA prioritizes fairness and transparency and advances our mission to protect human health and safety and preserve the soul of the EPA.”

Powell currently serves as Underground Storage Tank inspector in the Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division and has been a union leader for more than eight years. She replaces Gary Morton, who served as AFGE Council 238 president for three years after being elected in 2018.

The new council president said the council has much to accomplish in the year ahead. The council’s four priorities are:

  1. Negotiate and secure a master collective bargaining agreement to protect bargaining unit employees and public health. Protection of EPA employees will create a safe atmosphere where science can lead the way toward addressing the climate crisis as well as many other environmental concerns.
  2. Strive for a fully staffed and funded Environmental Protection Agency. Such funding and staffing would best equip the bargaining unit employees to begin tackling the climate crisis.
  3. Ensure the agency not only supports but embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are a part of who we are as EPA as well as how we do our work.
  4. Ensure a safe office reentry for all AFGE bargaining unit employees, building on the advances in Remote Work and Telework that we’ve already won at the bargaining table.

“EPA workers have fought together to reach landmark agreements that invest in us, and together, we’ve won major policy changes to ensure our voices are heard. We’re going to keep raising our voices to ensure that EPA employees are valued, respected, and protected at work,” said Executive Vice President Howell, who has been an enforcement lawyer in the Office of Regional Counsel and the lead negotiator for AFGE Council 238 for the recently ratified Future of Work negotiations. She will continue as lead negotiator for the council for the master collective bargaining agreement.

In addition to the election of President Powell and the appointment of Executive Vice President Howell, the full executive board includes:

President – Marie Owens Powell

Executive Vice President – Joyce Howell

First Vice President – Undine Kipka

Second Vice President – Justin Chen

Secretary – Kenneth Krebs

Treasurer – Jeanne Schultz

Sergeant at Arms – Ed Guster