Organization of Professional Employees of the USDA

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Established in 1929, OPEDA (Organization of Professional Employees, U.S. Department of Agriculture) is an association of professional employees with the mission to enhance the effectiveness of members in the performance of their duties. It seeks to provide enlightened guidance and representation before Congress, the Administration, and other employee groups and organizations and the public on matters that promote the efficient and effective operation of agencies of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. OPEDA is the only department-wide professional organization in USDA. Membership is open to all USDA employees and retirees regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, marital or familial status, political beliefs, parental status, receipt of public assistance, or protected genetic information. Over two thirds of OPEDA’s members are located outside the Washington D.C., metro area.

OPEDA Working for You

For over 84 years OPEDA has worked to protect and advance USDA employee interests through organized and concerted effort. In keeping with this thrust, OPEDA officers and staff continue to work diligently for the economic and professional advancement of OPEDA members, helping them to serve with pride and dedication. Never has OPEDA’s commitment to serving its membership been stronger than it is today, providing an array of services that range from influencing pay legislation to encouraging review of change of unnecessarily restrictive policies. OPEDA works closely with several other professional and employee organizations and national coalitions to pursue matters of material interest to its members. This has made it possible for millions of professional employees to testify as one before Congressional Committees. What has OPEDA been doing for you?

  • OPEDA keeps its members informed through newsletters, alert mailings, e-mail, web site, and events.
  • OPEDA has been the foremost exponent of the principle of pay comparability-with-private industry and will continue its efforts in this regard, especially in pursuit of compliance with the Pay Comparability Act of 1990.
  • OPEDA was instrumental in gaining increased annuities for retirees and their survivors, and has been active in efforts to gain equal treatment for women in these benefits.
  • OPEDA voiced strong opposition to House and Senate Budget Resolutions to change the federal annuity computation from the highest three years of salary to the highest five.
  • OPEDA protested a House proposal to raise employee contributions to retirement by 2.5 percent.
  • OPEDA urged key Representatives to oppose a plan to shift health care premium increases to federal employees, absolving the government of responsibility to held hold down health cost increases.
  • OPEDA was a pioneer in advancing optional retirement at full annuity at age 55 after 30 years of service, with became law in 1966.


OPEDA's scholarship announced in MYUSDA      http://www.dm.usda.gov/docs/news/August 2014.pdf

                                            Unsung Hero Award Program


Since 1985, through the Unsung Hero Award Program, OPEDA in a growing partnership with the USDA has celebrated Public Service Recognition Week, honoring employees who have demonstrated extraordinary service to the public and dedication to fulfilling the USDA’s mission.  On May 5, 2015, the Department held its 31st Annual Unsung Hero Award Program.  During the 2015 program, twelve (12) Unsung Heroes, including two teams and 16 honorable mentions were honored at our USDA Headquarters in Washington, DC. Honorees and guests joined by agency officials gathered from across the nation  to recognize and show appreciation of the extraordinary public service accomplishments of the Unsung Heroes, Honorable Mentions, and other USDA employees.

Dr. Parham greeted each honoree and spoke of the extrodinary dedication of the USDA employees.  For more information on the Unsung Hero Award Program, please email us at OPEDA@dm.usda.gov

Board Members 2015-2018

Mark Benedict, President

Louis Iacoletti, Past President

Dr. Dora (Holly) Hambley-Hayes,

Edward Dickerhoof, Executive Vice President (VP)

Fred Kaplan, Treasurer

Richard Fierroz, Public Service VP

Caroline Thorpe, Professionalism VP

Ali Muhammad, VP Civil Rights/Diversity

Ray Grow, Region 1 Council Member

Kathleen Rajkowski, Region 6 Council Member

Teresa Pickett, Membership VP and Region 7 Council Member





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