by Pablo Ros | November 29, 2012
Former AFSCME Pres. Gerald W. McEntee, who retired this year, was back at headquarters earlier this month. But the building looked a little different: It now bears his name in large letters above the main entrance, honoring his 56 years of service to AFSCME, including 31 years at the helm.
During a building naming ceremony, AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders recalled that at this year’s Convention in Los Angeles, “the delegates enthusiastically voted to name the building after a man who has stood up for working families, stood up for the 1.6 million members of AFSCME, stood up for the labor movement, stood up for the country.”
Among other guests, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, and AFL-CIO Pres. Richard Trumka thanked McEntee for always fighting on behalf of workers.
Pelosi said many landmark progressive laws Congress has passed, including the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Affordable Care Act, would not have been possible without McEntee’s help.
“Jerry has been there every step of the way, as a thinker, as a leader, as a mentor,” she said, adding that the new building name is fitting, because “Gerald McEntee has always been building.”
Indeed, “Every single day you came to work with a passion and a commitment to the people that you serve, that you represent, but to a bigger commitment as well, and that is to the dignity of work, the dignity of a job,” Governor O’Malley said.
President Trumka of the AFL-CIO called McEntee “one of the best trade unionists I’ve ever been around. All of us will be forever, and I mean forever, indebted to you and grateful to you and we’re honored to call you friend and pal.”
McEntee said he was appreciative of the honor, and issued a call to arms for AFSCME.
“This is indeed a great union,” he said. “We’re going to continue to grow, and we’re going to continue to help and hold the American labor movement together. I thank you for the honor, and I would only ask that you continue to work and work hard so that the American labor movement grows, AFSCME grows, and the middle class and America have something to look forward to.”