For a few years in the mid-1990s, AFSCME President Gerry McEntee (1935-2022) repositioned American labor and restored some of its clout.
By Harold Meyerson.
This is an important history of part of labor including the role of DSA. It is a major improvement on the misinformation often shared about DSA and labor by newer, less well informed, DSA members and those who were in other left organizations. (ed)
At the same time, Wurf invested heavily in organizing. Along with teachers’ union president Albert Shanker, Wurf really built what had been the nation’s weak public sector unions into powerhouses—waging strikes and engaging in kindred agitation to the point that cities, counties and states granted their employees the right to collective bargaining. It was one such campaign, waged by the Black sanitation workers in Memphis, to which Martin Luther King, Jr. lent his support, during which he was murdered.
Like Bernie Sanders, Wurf had Brooklyn in his voice and socialism in his heart. The two big wall hangings in his office were photos of Eugene Debs and Norman Thomas. Under his leadership, AFSCME formed a de facto coalition with the United Auto Workers, the Machinists and the Amalgamated Clothing Workers to oppose the Cold War obsessions of Federation Presidents George Meany and then Lane Kirkland’s AFLCIO, making floor fights over such matters as labor’s support for Ronald Reagan’s Central American interventions a regular feature of the Federation’s conventions.
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