AFSCME elects first African-American president
23rd July 2012 · 0 Comments
(Special to the NNPA from the Chicago Crusader) – Delegates to the 40th International Convention of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO (AFSCME), elected Lee A. Saunders to be president and Laura Reyes to be secretary-treasurer of the union representing 1.6 million public service workers.
Lee A. Saunders received 683,628 votes to 582,358 for Danny Donohue. In the race for secretary-treasurer, the union’s second highest ranking officer, Laura Reyes received 661,413 votes to 603,624 for Alice Goff. The election was administered by the American Arbitration Association.
“Both Laura and I are committed to our members and cherish this union,” said AFSCME President Elect Lee A. Saunders. “We had a vigorous and energetic campaign, but now the union will pull together to win victories for working families and our members all across this great country. We know that Wall Street and their allies are engaged in an all-out assault against our members and the services we provide. They know that AFSCME stands in the way of their efforts to destroy the middle class. We are united in our commitment to stand up for the men and women who care for America’s children, nurse the sick, plow our streets, collect the household trash and guard our prisons. Our members are a cross-section of America, not some elite group as our opponents try to claim. We are energized and ready for the battles ahead.”
Pres. Gerald W. McEntee, who retired after 31 years as AFSCME president, said the delegates’ decision to elect Lee and Laura “strengthens our leadership and will enhance our ability to face the challenges that await us around the country.”
Saunders will be the fourth president of AFSCME since the union’s formation 75 years ago in Madison, Wis. Arnold Zander served as AFSCME’s first president from 1936, when the union was first chartered by the American Federation of Labor (AFL), until 1964. The union’s second president, Jerry Wurf, was elected at the 1964 AFSCME Convention. McEntee ascended to the union’s presidency following Wurf’s death in 1981.
Lee A. Saunders also becomes AFSCME’s first African-American president, while Laura Reyes becomes the first woman Secretary-Treasurer.
AFSCME’s 1.6 million members provide the vital services that make America happen. With members in hundreds of different occupations — from nurses to corrections officers, child care providers to sanitation workers — AFSCME advocates for fairness in the workplace, excellence in public services and prosperity and opportunity for all working families.
This article originally published in the July 23, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.