John Gage, who has served as president of the American Federation of Government Employees for nearly a decade, said Tuesday he intends to retire later this summer to spend more time with his family.
"I have a growing family that I've kind of neglected," Gage, who is 66 and lives in Baltimore, said in a brief interview with The Sun. "I never have been able to really put in perspective the people who love me and the union activities."
As head of the nation's largest federal employee union, Gage has battled with lawmakers and the White House at a particularly difficult time for federal employees. Members of both parties have sought to address spiraling budget deficits in part by reducing the size of the federal workforce.
Gage, a former Social Security Administration employee, fought a two-year pay freeze President Barack Obama imposed in 2010. More recently he has pushed back against a series of proposals in the Republican-led House of Representatives to cut federal employee pay and benefits. He was actively involved in last year's budget crisis that nearly lead to a government shutdown.
Gage said he will stay on until August. He has served as the union's national president since 2003. He alerted members to his retirement on Monday but the union has not announced his decision publicly.
The union represents some 15,000 federal employees who live in Maryland and 600,000 nationwide.
"For over a quarter century, John Gage has dedicated his career to making sure that government employees can focus on working on behalf of Americans instead of having to worry about receiving the pay and benefits they have earned through their service,"Rep. Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, said in a statement. "John has been a tireless defender of our nation’s public servants during a time when they have been asked to do more with less."
Gage graduated from Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia in 1968. He played for the Baltimore Orioles in 1968-1969.