AFSCME Elects First African-American President

Special to Informer | 7/13/2012, 5:44 p.m.

Washington, DC - 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


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.