American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees

Infobox Union|
name= AFSCME
country= United States
affiliation= AFL-CIO
members= 1.4 million
full_name= American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees

founded= 1932
office= Washington, D.C.
people= Gerald McEntee, president
website= []

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) is the second- or third-largest labor union in the United States and one of the fastest-growing, representing over 1.4 million employees, primarily in local and state government and in the health care industry. AFSCME is part of the AFL-CIO, one of the two main labor federations in the United States. Employees at the federal government level are primarily represented by other unions, such as the American Federation of Government Employees, with which AFSCME was once affiliated, and the National Treasury Employees Union; but AFSCME does represent some federal employees at the Federal Aviation Administration and the Library of Congress, among others. [ [ Washington D.C. Info] from American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees website]

According to their website, AFSCME organizes for social and economic justice in the workplace and through political action and legislative advocacy. It is divided into more than 3,500 local unions in 46 U.S. states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Each local union writes its own constitution, holds membership meetings, and elects its own officers. Councils are also a part of AFSCME's administrative structure, usually grouping together various locals in a geographic area.


AFSCME was founded in 1932 as the Wisconsin State Administrative, Clerical, Fiscal and Technical Employees Association (quickly becoming the Wisconsin State Employees Association) amid fears of the possible elimination of the civil service and a return to patronage jobs. Its driving force and first president was Arnold Zander.

It grew slowly over the next several decades, gradually changing from an association formed to protect civil service systems to a union interested in collective bargaining. It started growing particularly quickly in the 1960s under the presidency of Jerome Wurf. In 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated while in Memphis, Tennessee to support a strike by the black sanitation workers' union, AFSCME Local 1733. In 1993 a documentary movie was produced, titled "At the River I Stand", about the Memphis sanitation workers' strike that brought Martin Luther King Jr. to Memphis. [ [ California Newsreel - AT THE RIVER I STAND ] ]


The leadership of AFSCME consists of a president, secretary-treasurer, and an executive board. The President of AFSCME International is Gerald McEntee. McEntee was first elected AFSCME President in 1981 and was re-elected in June 2004 to another four-year term. McEntee is a vice-president of the AFL-CIO and is the chair of the AFL-CIO Political Education Committee. McEntee is an influential political player in the Democratic Party. [ [ Public Integrity] Official website] [ [ The rise of AFSCME as public employee union with clout ] ] [ [ News ] ] [ [ AFSCME - AFSCME Takes Largest AFL-CIO Delegation to the Democratic National Convention ] ]

The Secretary-Treasurer is William Lucy. Lucy was first elected AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer in May 1972 and was re-elected in June 2004 to another four-year term. Lucy is a former President of Local 1675, Contra Costa County Employees Association of Contra Costa County, California, where he was employed for 13 years. Lucy also serves as president of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU). [ [ William Lucy bio] at AFSCME website]


Due to the wave of privatization of public services, AFSCME has long pursued a policy of "following the work": organizing workers who perform work in the public interest, whether the operator is non-profit or commercial. In New York, for example, in February of 2006, 1200 employees of Lifespire Inc., a New York City human services agency that provides services to the developmentally disabled, joined the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA)/AFSCME Local 1000, AFSCME’s single biggest affiliate, through a card check campaign. [ [ AFSCME - Across the Nation ] ]

AFSCME is also currently running campaigns to organize home-based family child care providers. To date AFSCME has been able to secure gubernatorial Executive Order [s] recognizing the union as the representative of home-based child care providers in Wisconsin, Oregon and Michigan. In New Jersey, Gov. Corzine signed an executive order on August 2, 2006 recoginizing AFSCME and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) as the unions representing child care providers in that state. In New York Republican Gov. George Pataki vetoed a bill that would have allowed more than 50,000 home day care providers to unionize as state employees with AFSCME and the American Federation of Teachers. In Michigan, the Child Care union is known as Child Care Providers Together-Michigan (CCPTM). CCPTM was organized with the help of the United Auto Workers , and the UAW currently represents roughly 40% of CCPTM members. AFSCME also represents child care providers in Franklin and Lucas counties in Ohio.

When Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed an executive order that allowed the providers to collectively bargain with the state. The move launched a turf war, [ [ Meyerson, Harold. "Labor War in Illinois: The AFL-CIO's two largest unions duke it out and SEIU comes out on top. " [The American Prospect" March 29, 2005 "(web only)"] ] with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) battling AFSCME for the exclusive right to organize the workers. AFSCME argued they would be better suited for negotiating with the state, while the SEIU claimed it already unofficially represented 20,000 of the workers. An independent mediator ruled that the SEIU and not AFSCME should represent nearly 49,000 home child care providers in that state. The mediator found that the SEIU had been trying to organize the workers since 1996, while AFSCME had started just a month earlier. Despite its success in organizing child care providers, AFSCME was rejected.

In California, AFSCME represents the lower paid workforce at all ten campuses of the University of California. The union in 2007 resolved a pay equity dispute that had dogged the University for two years. It led a number of political and entertainment figures to refuse to cross an informational picket for the purpose of giving keynote speeches at graduation ceremonies.

Contributions to political campaigns

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the AFSCME is the United States' largest single contributor to political campaigns, having donated more than US$38 million since 1990. [ [ Center for Responsive Politics] retrieved 21 Jun 2007] The organization contributes almost exclusively to Democratic Party campaigns; since 1990 the ratio of Democratic to Republican contributions by the AFSCME has exceeded 98:1. In addition to combating the privatization mentioned above, key political objectives for the group include raising the minimum wage and opposing the substitution of vacation time for overtime pay due workers. [ [ Center for Responsive Politics] retrieved 21 Jun 2007] In June 2008, AFSCME, along with, spent over US$500,000 on a television advertisement critical of the presumed Republican presidential nominee John McCain. [cite web|url=|title=The Swamp: John McCain vs. baby in anti-war ad|accessdate=2008-06-19|publisher="Chicago Tribune"]


External links

* [ Official website]
* [ Vintage AFSCME Video Parody]
* [ Disgrace Before God: Striking Black Sanitation Workers vs. Black Officialdom in 1977 Atlanta] An article in "New Beginnings: A Journal of Independent Labor" about the 1977 sanitation workers strike led by AFSCME Local 1644

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”