Alma L. Lee was re-elected to her eighth term as President of the AFGE/National Veterans Affairs Council, #53, affiliated with AFL-CIO, in November of 2013. Council #53 is the largest bargaining council within AFGE, which represents over 204,000 employees for the Department of Veterans Affairs facilities, throughout the nation.
The National Veterans Affairs Council is the largest & fastest growing Council within the American Federation of Government Employees. The Union has continued to build the voice for all VA employees; including professional and non-professional employees.
Ms. Lee continues to be an active member of Local #1739, which represents workers at the Roanoke Regional Office in Roanoke, VA and the Salem VA Medical Center, where she began her 35-year career as a federal employee in Nutrition and Food Service, and later moved on to Nursing Service, where she formed her solid commitment to veterans, their families, and her fellow federal employees.
She graduated cum laude from Virginia Western Community College, and furthered her education at Atlanta University with emphasis in counseling alcoholics and their families.
Her union career began at the grassroots’ level at Local #1739 at the Salem VA Medical Center, where she served in many positions; Steward, Vice President, & Fair Practices Coordinator for the 4th District. She also served as President of the Local for 17 years. Historically, Ms. Lee was the first woman elected as President of Local #1739 and remains the first woman elected to head the AFGE National VA Council.
President Lee’s union career exemplifies her strong principles devoted to improvement of the workplace through the empowerment of employees. Working closely with the late Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Jesse Brown; she sought to end adversarial labor-management relationships, to improve communications, and to build bridges between employees, administrators, veterans’ service organizations, and the public.
During her first term as President, an historic National Partnership Agreement was signed by AFGE, four other unions, and management, giving labor the opportunity to be involved in work place initiatives.
The National Total Quality Improvement Agreement, also signed during her first term, established the National Quality Council and local TQI committees. These committees are tasked to improve ways in which services are provided to our nation’s veterans and to ensure that the DVA is a provider of quality health care today and in the future.
In her second term, she was the union’s Chief Negotiator for the NVAC Contract Negotiating Team, which authored the 1997 Master Agreement. During her sixth term, Ms. Lee once again sat as the union’s Chief Negotiator for a new Master Agreement which was ratified March 15, 2011.
Ms. Lee sits on a number of committees including; Co-Chair of the National Partnership Council, and Co-Chair of the National VA Quality Council. She is a member of the Coalition of Labor Union Women, the NAACP, and AFGE PAC. She was the recipient of the Bernice Heffner Award as the Outstanding Woman in AFGE, selected from among 700,000 employees that AFGE represents. Ms. Lee was also named the Outstanding Labor Woman of the Year in Virginia, and has received numerous other awards and honors.
E-Mail: Alma Lee
Phone: (540) 345-6301
Fax: (540) 224-1931
Mary Jean Burke First Executive Vice President of the VA Council. MJ as she likes to be known, started her labor career when AFGE Local 609 in Indianapolis, when it was consolidated to represent the professionals at her medical center.
Mary Jean Burke, First Executive Vice President of the AFGE/National Veterans Affairs Council, #53, (AFL-CIO). “MJ” as she likes to be known, started her labor career with AFGE Local 609 in Indianapolis, Indiana, when it was organized to represent the professionals at the Richard Roudebush VA Medical Center.
Originally, appointed in 2002 by the National VA Council, to serve as a National Safety Representative. She was first elected as the 1st Executive Vice President in November 2007 and continues to serve on her second term. MJ is an active member of the Budget Committee, Legislative Committee, National Hybrid Collaboration Team and is also member of the National Partnership Council. She was also a member of the NVAC Negotiating Team, for the 2011 Master Agreement.
She graduated from St. Louis University with a BS in Physical Therapy in 1988 and she is a Physical Therapist at the Indianapolis VAMC. She obtained her certification in Athletic Training in 1995, doing her clinical hours at Tennessee State University from 1992- 1994. In 1999, she became a board-certified clinical specialist, by the American Physical Therapy Association in Geriatrics. MJ feels representing the workers who service, support and celebrate our Nation’s heroes is a great honor.
E-Mail: M J Burke
Phone: (317) 988-1327
Fax: (317) 988-1769
Oscar L. Williams Jr., serves as your Second Executive Vice President of the AFGE/National VA Council, #53 (AFL-CIO) and also the 7th District Representative for Council #59. Elected since 1986, Oscar is the longest serving representative of the National VA Council.
After serving in the Air Force for six years, veteran Williams began his labor career in 1978, where he started as a steward, moving up the ranks as Chief Steward, Vice President and then rose into the position of President of Local 1963, at the Illiana, VA Medical Center. He is an electrical worker by trade and has worked for the VA for over 33 years.
Oscar graduated from the University of Arizona with a BS in Electronic Technology, and a minor in mathematics, in 1977. He later obtained his BA in Labor Relations at the University of Maryland at Silver Springs in 1984.
Mr. Williams has actively served as the Chairperson of the Mid-Term Bargaining Committee, a member of the Conflict Resolution Committee as well as member of the Drug Testing Committee. He was a successful member of the NVAC Negotiating Team for the entire 7 year term.
In his spare time, Oscar enjoys being a referee for high school and youth football. He is a grandfather of five and has been happily married for over 39 years.
E-Mail: Oscar Williams
Phone: (217) 554-4866
Fax: (217) 554-4821
Bill Wetmore,has been an Executive Vice President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) / National V.A. Council (NVAC) #53 since a special election in August 2003. Bill is an attorney who has worked at the Board of Veterans Appeals in Washington, D.C. since 1979.
He began representing bargaining unit employees in 1992, when he negotiated an agreement. Since, he has served as a steward, local Treasurer, local First Vice President and President of AFGE Local 17, at VACO. He has also served as a NVAC National Representative, from October 1998 to August 2003.
Bill is the Chair of the Grievance and Arbitration Committee, a member of the Master Agreement Negotiating Team from 2003 until ratification in 2011, and a member of the Mid-Term Bargaining Committee. He is also the 14th District Representative, encompassing the Washington, DC metropolitan area, Council 14.
He graduated from Lafayette College with a BA in American Civilization. He holds a JD from The Washington College of Law, The American University. He is married and has three children and 5 grandchildren
E-Mail: William Wetmore
Phone: (202) 632-9687
Fax: (202) 495-5202
Dorothy Jefferson, Treasurer of the AFGE/National Veterans Affairs Council, #53, (AFL-CIO), is the first female to hold this position with the AFGE/National VA Council, #53 and has continually been re-elected to this position for the past 19 years. She actively serves on the EEO, Budget, Conflict Resolution, and Title 38 Committees, as well as the Women’s Coordinator for Council #53.
Dorothy attended the University of South Carolina and obtained her Associates Degree in Nursing. In 1980, she began her Nursing career at the VA, where she was a Psychiatric Staff Nurse and held an Assistant Head Nurse position. During her tenure at the Dorn VA Medical Center, she held the position with Local #1915, as Secretary as well as Steward. Ms. Jefferson has previously held the positions of President of the South Carolina State Council of AFGE, and Secretary-Treasurer, for which she served over 10 years and the Secretary-Treasurer for the 5th District NVAC Council. She continues to be a member of Chi Eta Phi Nursing Sorority, Inc., Delta Ata Chapter and served as Treasurer for two years.
Since retiring in 2000 from the VA, Dorothy enjoys spending her free time with her ten grandchildren, singing in her church choir, reading, and playing BINGO!
E-Mail: Dorothy Jefferson
Phone: (803) 787-7565
Office: (803) 776-4000 ext 4560
Fax: (803) 782-9388