The end of an era came to pass on Monday, as delegates said goodbye to former AFSCME Sec.-Treas. William Lucy, marking the end of a 57-year relationship.
Bidding farewell amid chants of “Thank you, Bill,” Lucy stressed the importance of fighting for social justice, a commitment that has characterized his public service career.
“We’ve always known that there’s a crisis. It may be more intense now, but there’s always been a crisis for millions of people not as lucky as we are in this room,” Lucy said. “There’s a daily crisis in their lives, as they struggle to put bread on their tables, to put clothes on their backs, to have a roof on their heads. We have a responsibility to help them out.”
A video tribute highlighted Lucy’s trajectory as a tireless fighter for equality and economic fairness. Opening with the famous A. Philip Randolph quote: “Freedom is never given, it is won,” the presentation recounted Lucy’s work alongside the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in civil rights struggles and his support for Nelson Mandela.
At the end of the ceremony, President McEntee presented Lucy with a tribute book from AFSCME members thanking him for his contributions. From the Convention floor, several delegates shared their thoughts on the impact Lucy’s work had on our union and the American labor movement.
Lucy, who was first elected secretary-treasurer in May 1972, has been actively involved in international affairs. He collaborated with King during the 1968 strike by AFSCME Local 1733 sanitation workers in Memphis until the civil rights leader’s assassination. He was also one of the founders of the Free South Africa Movement that launched the successful anti-apartheid campaign in the United States in the mid-1980s.
Lucy is a founder and the president of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU), an organization of union leaders and rank-and-file members dedicated to the unique needs of African Americans and minority group workers.