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.