Employees of the Internal Revenue Service, the Treasury Department and dozens of other federal agencies and departments have elected a new president of the National Treasury Employees Union, Tony Reardon.

Reardon is a 25-year veteran at the union who most recently served as the NTEU’s national executive vice president. He is replacing Colleen Kelley, who retired after 16 years as NTEU president.

Delegates to the NTEU’s 55th national convention in Hollywood, Fla., chose Reardon on Tuesday after he received 89 percent of the votes cast. “I am honored and humbled by the confidence placed in me by NTEU delegates,” said Reardon in a statement. “I am committed to building on Colleen’s legacy and strengthening NTEU’s role as the voice of the federal workforce on Capitol Hill, at the agencies, in the media and in the courts.”

In a farewell speech Monday, Kelley urged convention delegates to keep up the fight on behalf of the federal workforce over issues such as pay, benefits, retirement, budget cuts and “assaults” on employee rights.

“Keep doing what you do best,” she said. “Keep accomplishing amazing things against great odds. Hold onto your faith. Stay confident. Be proud and hold your head up high. Because you are part of a great institution. After 16 years as your president and 35 years as an NTEU leader … I can say that my faith in our union is even stronger than ever, and my confidence in our future is as well.”

Her successor, Reardon, may be facing a new challenge on Capitol Hill after Senate Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee recently called for the IRS to be non-unionized. In the Additional Republican Views section of last week’s report by the committee on the IRS scandal involving applications for tax-exempt status by political groups, Republicans blamed the union for encouraging political bias against conservatives (see Senate Committee Report Accuses IRS of Mismanagement in Tax-Exempt Scandal).

“It is virtually impossible for the IRS to maintain the reality, much less the appearance, of neutrality and fairness to all taxpayers, when a substantial number of IRS employees are members of the highly partisan and left-leaning National Treasury Employees Union,” they wrote, according to Government Executive. “At the IRS alone there are approximately 48,972 dues-paying union employees, representing 65 percent of the bargaining unit employees at the IRS. Politically, the NTEU is extremely active and twice endorsed Mr. Obama for president.”

Democrats on the committee, however, disputed the assertion, pointing out, “Union membership in and of itself does not mean political bias.”

Republicans noted in the report that during the 2010 election cycle, the NTEU raised $613,633 through its political action committee, donating approximately 98 percent of that amount to Democrats. In 2012, $729,708—or 94 percent of NTEU PAC contributions—went to Democrats.

Reardon’s NTEU career began 25 years ago, when he was hired to serve as the union’s operations manager. As chief operating executive, he was responsible for NTEU’s day-to-day operations including finance, technology and member services. In 2013, he became the NTEU’s national executive vice president, the union’s second-highest elected position.

A veteran negotiator, Reardon has led NTEU bargaining teams that have secured some of the best employee contracts anywhere in the federal government. He has also been a key strategic planner and worked closely with chapter leaders and members to advance the NTEU’s objectives and ensure that federal employees are treated with dignity and respect.

NTEU delegates also chose Jim Bailey to serve as national executive vice president. Bailey has also worked for the NTEU throughout his professional career. He started out as an assistant counsel in Chicago and Oakland, Calif., and later opened NTEU’s Denver field office, where he served as national counsel for 18 years. Eight years ago, he was named director of field operations and split his time between Denver and Washington, D.C. He has collaborated with local chapters to plan and implement grassroots legislative and political campaigns and oversees NTEU’s training and organizing programs.

The new officers will be sworn in on Thursday, the closing day of the NTEU’s convention.

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