Remembering AFSCME President Jerry Wurf on his 100th Birthday

By Lee Saunders ·

When I first came to AFSCME, our union’s president was a fearless firebrand named Jerry Wurf.

He was a burning idealist, a force of nature, and also a shrewd strategist. It was his leadership that turned AFSCME into a national powerhouse, as we grew nearly fivefold during his years at the helm (1964-1981). Few in the nation’s history have done more to give people who work in public service the voice on the job they deserve.

Jerry Wurf was guided by the conviction that you can’t have economic justice without racial justice. He was unyielding in his support for the striking Memphis sanitation workers in 1968, helping bring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. into the struggle, and ultimately negotiating a successful settlement with the city. 

As AFSCME rises to meet fresh challenges, as we shake off adversity to continue organizing and building power, we will always find inspiration in President Wurf’s courage and tenacity.

Jerry Wurf was born 100 years ago this past Saturday. Last summer at our International Convention in Boston, we honored him, along with other giants of AFSCME’s past. To learn more about his life and legacy, read this great 100th birthday tribute in The American Prospect