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The National Association of Government Employees was created July 16, 1961 at an emergency national convention of the Federal Employees Veterans Association (FEVA) in Dedham, Massachusetts. FEVA had been established for the primary purpose of protecting the rights of World War II veterans in government employment. Its stronghold was the Charlestown (Mass.) Naval Shipyard, which employed more than 40,000 workers during the Second World War.

At the 1961 convention, FEVA delegates voted to change their name to NAGE in anticipation of President John F. Kennedy signing Executive Order 10988 which would establish collective bargaining rights for federal employees.

The name change was necessary because veterans organizations could not bargain with the Executive Branch under the Executive Order.

With President Kennedy’s signing of Executive Order 10988, NAGE was ready to embark on a new era in Federal Employee-Management Relations.

Although it was established as a federal employees union, the composition of NAGE changed significantly in 1970 when the International Brotherhood of Police Officers (IBPO) affiliated with NAGE, creating a sophisticated union of public sector employees.

Unit 6, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' professional employee bargaining unit, was the first state group to choose NAGE as its union, in 1977. State bargaining units 1 and 3 elected to join NAGE shortly thereafter.

In 1982, NAGE affiliated with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and in the early 1990’s, the International Association of EMTs & Paramedics (IAEP) was created to represent employees in emergency medical services. It marked the first time NAGE sought to represent private sector employees.

Over the last 45 years, NAGE has seen tremendous growth and great change, both within the union and within the wider circle of American labor. Despite the challenges of these changes, NAGE continues to honor its commitment to protecting the rights of working women and men and improving the working conditions of members and their families.