Elissa McBride is secretary-treasurer of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO, which represents 1.6 million workers. She was elected by acclamation by the International Executive Board in March 2017.
McBride joined the labor movement as a member of the United Auto Workers District 65 in 1989. In 1991, she was recruited to the AFL-CIO Organizing Institute, a new initiative to expand the ranks of union organizers and grow the labor movement. During her years as an organizer, she worked with factory workers to form unions and win first contracts in North Carolina, Texas, Ohio, Vermont and Rhode Island. One-on-one communication, workplace power and direct action were critical to those victories and remain central to her philosophy of trade unionism.
Those early successes led McBride to become the New England organizing director for the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers and later to direct the AFL-CIO Organizing Institute training program. At the AFL-CIO, she trained hundreds of community activists and organizers to build power in their workplaces by reaching workers one-on-one and moving them to take collective action.
McBride joined AFSCME as the director of the Education and Leadership Training Department in 2001. In this position, she has used interactive teaching methods to prepare union members, leaders and staff to lead the labor movement into the future and become more effective champions for equality, justice and dignity on the job.
She led the creation of AFSCME’s Leadership Academy, which includes programs to help AFSCME leaders build strong local unions through strategic planning and team building; to inform members about how the union works through online classes; and to equip senior staff and elected officers to lead the union in challenging times.
She also played a key role in creating AFSCME’s Faces and Voices training program, which gives librarians, health care workers, school bus drivers and other AFSCME members the tools to be effective communicators for the union. In the Faces and Voices classroom, members tell their stories of providing public services in communities across the country and develop those stories into powerful messages to co-workers, politicians and the public.
McBride lives in Takoma Park, Maryland, with her daughter, Rosie.