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AFSCME Office of the President: Gerald W. McEntee Records

 Collection
Identifier: LR001988
Part I: Important correspondents in this collection include: Bob Boldin Paul Booth Linda Chavez Thompson Jerry Clark Cathy Collette Frank Cowan Hans Engelberts Bob Harman Jack Howard Tom King Richard Kirschner Lane Kirkland Linda Lampkin William Lucy Rob McGarrah Winn Newman Vincent O’Brien George Popyack Dave Prouty Larry Reinhold Ernest Rewolinski Lee Saunders Philip Starcks John Sweeney

Important subjects covered in this collection include:

Affirmative Action Affirmative Action – Government Employees Affirmative Action – Municipal Employees AIDS AIDS – Correctional Employees Apartheid – South Africa Child Care Collective Bargaining – Government Employees Collective Bargaining – Municipal Employees Deinstitutionalization Federal Government – Budget Federal Government – Budget – Balanced Federal Government – Budget - Reaganomics Health Care Health Care – Reform Health Care – Reform – Universal Health Care North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Pay Equity – Government Employees Pay Equity – Municipal Employees Presidential Campaigns – Electoral Polling Presidents – United States – Elections – 1984 Presidents – United States – Elections – 1988 Presidents – United States – William Jefferson Clinton Privatization Privatization – Contracting Out Public Employees Trade Unions – Government Employees Trade Unions – Jurisdictions Trade Unions – International Labor Activities Trade Unions – International Labor Activities – Eastern Europe Trade Unions – International Labor Activities – El Salvador Trade Unions – International Labor Activities – Germany Trade Unions – International Labor Activities – Great Britain Trade Unions – International Labor Activities – International Labor Organization Trade Unions – International Labor Activities – Japan Trade Unions – International Labor Activities – Latin America Trade Unions – International Labor Activities – Russia Trade Unions – International Labor Activities – South Africa Trade Unions – International Labor Activities – Soviet Union Trade Unions – International Labor Activities – Sweden Trade Unions – Jurisdictional Disputes Trade Unions – Municipal Employees Trade Unions – Organizing Trade Unions – Service Employees International Union Trade Unions – AFSCME – Affiliates – Corrections United Trade Unions – AFSCME – Affiliates – United Nurses of America Urban Affairs Women Workers



Series Description: Series 1, International Administration: Correspondence, memos, reports, financial documents, conferences, and international affairs materials from the various departments at headquarters in Washington DC. Executive (President’s) Office materials deal with departments, legislative topics, the International Executive Board, committees, task forces, working groups, and strategic planning from Gerald W. McEntee. Files are arranged alphabetically by department then subject. All PSI files have been removed by AFSCME Legal and are located at the Headquarters in Washington DC.

Series 2, State, Local, and Council Files, 1982-1995 Correspondence, memos, reports, financial documents, complaints and grievances pertaining to state councils and locals as monitored by the Executive (President’s) Office. Files are arranged alphabetically by state and subject, then council

Series 3, AFL-CIO Internal Files, 1982-1995 Correspondence, memos, notes, meeting and convention materials, and legal cases. The AFL-CIO Files deal with AFL-CIO departments, committees, and Executive Council meetings, correspondence with affiliates and non-affiliates, and jurisdictional disputes. Files are arranged in the following order: General Correspondence, Affiliates/Non-affiliates, Article XX, Article XXI, AFL-CIO Departments, AFL-CIO Committees, AFL-CIO Executive Council Meetings, and ORP Cases. The files are arranged chronologically and then alphabetically within these categories.

Series 4, Associations, 1982-1995 This series deals with the correspondence regarding various associations Gerald W. McEntee and AFSCME had contact with. Files are arranged chronologically then alphabetically.
Part II: Part II of the AFSCME Office of the President: Gerald McEntee Records consists of documents created mostly between 1996 and 2003, while the bulk of Part I was created between 1981 and 1995. As a result, Part II contains evidence of AFSCME’s reactions to changes in the labor movement in a post-NAFTA economy. These changes are evident in the internal functions of AFSCME’s Executive Office, affiliates, and in the union’s work within the AFL-CIO and allied organizations. Documents include correspondence, memoranda, reports, meeting minutes, handwritten notes, budgets, flyers, invitations, surveys, photographs, and a VHS tape.

Important Subjects: Affirmative Action Affirmative Action – Government Employees Affirmative Action – Municipal Employees AFL-CIO Child Care Collective Bargaining – Government Employees Collective Bargaining – Municipal Employees Deinstitutionalization Federal Government – Budget Federal Government – Budget – Balanced Federal Government – Welfare Reform Health Care Health Care – Reform Health Care – Reform – Universal Health Care North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Pay Equity – Government Employees Pay Equity – Municipal Employees Presidential Campaigns – Electoral Polling Presidents – United States – Elections – 1996 Presidents – United States – Elections – 2000 Presidents – United States – William Jefferson Clinton Presidents – United States – George W. Bush Public Services International Social Security Solidarity Day II

Important Names: Bilik, Al Booth, Paul Chavez-Thompson, Linda Clark, Jerry Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, William Cowan, Frank Gore, Albert Howard, Jack Korpi, Kerri Lampkin, Linda Lucy, William 1933- Nolan, Jean Reinhold, Larry Saunders, Lee Stern, Andy 1950- Sweeny, John

Series Description: Series 1: Internal Administration, 1981-2004 This series contains materials related to communications between various AFSCME headquarters departments and the Office of the President under Gerald McEntee. Subjects include departmental reorganizations, convention planning, relationships with political figures, staff policies and procedures (including pensions), activities of the International Executive Board, political surveys and political planning documents, and AFSCME’s relationship with Public Services International. The series also includes correspondence, memoranda and reports related to issues affecting AFSCME members, such as Affirmative Action, Social Security, and welfare reform. Several files document the planning process for Solidarity Day II in 1991. Formats in this series include memoranda, correspondence, reports, meeting minutes, hand-written notes, agendas, talking points, and flyers. Files are grouped alphabetically and then by creation date.

Series 2: State, Local, and Council Files, 1995-2003 This series contains material related to the Office of the President’s relationship with AFSCME affiliates at the state, local, and district council level, including affiliates in Puerto Rico and Panama. The majority of material in this series consists of correspondence between affiliates and headquarters on organizing, staff, and administrative issues. Memoranda, reports and invitations are also significant portions of the series. Some of the documents in this series are related to grievances or administratorship records at the local level. Many letters include notes from President McEntee indicating his answer to the given letter or memoranda. Files are grouped by year and then alphabetically by state.

Series 3: AFL-CIO Internal Files, 1996-2003 This series contains materials related to AFSCME and President McEntee’s participation in the AFL-CIO. As leader of one of the largest unions in the organization, McEntee participated in numerous committees and groups charged with steering AFL-CIO strategy. This series represents the AFL-CIO’s efforts to navigate the effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement, a long-term shift toward a more service-based economy, and changing priorities in inter-union relationships as illustrated by The New Alliance and other AFL-CIO campaigns. Some materials relate to AFL-CIO Article XX and XXI cases, which are jurisdictional disputes between member unions. Materials in this series include memoranda, correspondence, reports, meeting minutes, and notes. Files are grouped by year and then as they were originally arranged by AFSCME staff in categories: Correspondence, Affiliates/Non-affiliates, Article XX, Article XXI, AFL-CIO Departments, AFL-CIO Executive Council Meetings.

Series 4: Associations, 1996-2003 This series contains materials documenting the Office of the President's relationships with various organizations outside of AFSCME and the AFL-CIO. These include political organizations, such as the Democratic National Committee, governmental organizations, such as the United States Department of Labor, and community organizations, such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Some of the organizations with very few items are listed by the organizations’ first letter, as arranged by AFSCME staff. The bulk of this series consists of correspondence and invitations, but material related to meetings or policy-making is also present. Files are grouped by year and then alphabetically.

Dates

  • 1977 - 2003
  • Majority of material found within 1982 - 2003

Creator

Language of Materials

Material entirely in English.

Access

Collection is open for research.

Use

Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials. Restrictions: Researchers may encounter records of a sensitive nature – personnel files, case records and those involving investigations, legal and other private matters. Privacy laws and restrictions imposed by the Library prohibit the use of names and other personal information which might identify an individual, except with written permission from the Director and/or the donor.

Extent

190 Linear Feet (190 SB)

Abstract

Gerald W. McEntee became president of AFSCME in 1981. Some of the issues reflected in Part I of this collection include the anti-apartheid movement; health care reform, especially under the Clinton White House; affirmative action; AIDS; presidential politics and union campaign support; international labor relations; and legislative affairs. The records also include information on state locals and councils, AFSCME's relationship to other labor unions and organizations, and AFSCME's judicial panel cases.

Part II of the AFSCME Office of the President: Gerald McEntee Records consists of documents created mostly between 1996 and 2003, while the bulk of Part I was created between 1981 and 1995. As a result, Part II contains evidence of AFSCME’s reactions to changes in the labor movement in a post-NAFTA economy. These changes are evident in the internal functions of AFSCME’s Executive Office, affiliates, and in the union’s work within the AFL-CIO and allied organizations.

History

Part I: The AFSCME President's Office Collection comprises the Federation's Executive Department and International Affairs Department, which are located within the AFSCME headquarters in Washington DC.

Gerald W. McEntee was the International President of the 1.4 million-member American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, one of the most aggressive and politically active organizing unions in the AFL-CIO. Since 1998, nearly 250,000 public service workers have joined AFSCME through organizing campaigns.

Gerald W. McEntee was born in 1935, and came from a labor family. His father, William J. McEntee, was instrumental in the first organizational drive of Philadelphia Municipal Workers in 1936, and was President of AFSCME Council 33.

McEntee graduate from LaSalle College with a degree in economics before joining AFSCME as an organizer for Council 33 in 1957. Working his way up through the ranks, he was responsible for the largest organizational drive in Pennsylvania, organizing 75,000 workers throughout the state. The idea for state organization, which would fall under the auspices of the soon to be created Council 13, occurred during a meeting with then AFSCME President Jerry Wurf. Wurf took a chance on McEnttee and gave him AFSCME Headquarter funds to complete the drive. In order to organize workers, McEntee had to navigate not only the often-contemptuous relationship between unions, but also state politics.

The organizational campaign was a grassroots operation, with McEntee, and those associated with him (later named the McEntee Raiders), going door-to-door to organize workers as well as conducting letter-writing campaigns to AFSCME locals in Pennsylvania, and made speeches to union leaders and rank-and-file members. Using as leverage the passage of Act III in 1958, which gave uniformed public employees the right to collectively bargain, McEntee promoted the right to negotiate all public employees.

This era was known as the "Philadelphia Wars." Through MEntee's efforts, both on the streets and in the State capital, all public employees in Pennsylvania were given the right to collectively bargain on July 23, 1970 with Act 195. In February of 1973, the founding convention of Council 13 was helf, and McEntee was named its Executive Director. In an unparalleled move for AFSCME, all other state councils reported to Council 13, giving McEntee full control over Pennsylvania's Public Employees. McEntee remained loyal to his promises of no givebacks, and forced the state legislature to yield with the threat of a work stoppage in July of 1973. McEntee was also elected an International Vice President of AFSCME in 1974.

McEntee continued to organize workers and run Council 13 until he was elected PResident of AFSCME in what was called, "a very spirited," contest against Secretary-Treasurer William Lucy in 1981. The election came about during an emergency board meeting when President Jerry Wurf died unexpectedly in 1981. Immediately upon election, McEntee launched into a tirade against President Reagan, and promised, "We will recognize the financial hardships local governments may have, but we are not in the business of give-backs." McEntee was 46 years old when elected. AFSCME had 1 million members.

The new president represented a new brand of labor leader, one who was savvy both on the streets and within the halls of state and federal governments. He continued to organize workers while a member of the AFL-CIO Executive Council and a Vice PResident of AFL-CIO in 1981. Four years later, in 1985, he was eelected president of the Public Employee Department in the AFL-CIO. In 1995, he was among a group of new union leaders who ousted Lane Kirkland from his presidency at AFL-CIO, and replaced him with their ally John Sweeny, who was then president of the growing Service Employees International Union. At this time, McEntee became Chairman of the influential AFL-CIO Political Committee, where he masterminded an elaborate $35 million campaign fund to reverse Republican control of Congress.

Under McEntee's leadership, the federation created its highly successful and much imitated voter education campaigns, which helped increase the number of union household voters to a record 26 percent of the electorate in 2000 (up from 19 percent in 1992).

McEntee backed Arkansas Governor William Clinton earlier than other labor unions in the 1992 U.S. Presidential Campaign during his election campaign, a move Clinton did not forget. He was a close confidant of CLinton and regularly met with former Vice PResident Al Gore. As McEntee has long been a leader in the fight to reform the nation's health care system, President Clinton name McEnetee to serve on the Presidential Advisory Commission on Quality and Consumer Protection in the Health Care Industry in 1997. McEntee has also been heavily involved with pay equity and International Affairs and was arrested along with Yolanda King, daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr., for protesting apartheid outside the South AFrican Embassy in Washington, DC.

During this time, McEntee was also instrumental in the creation of the labor think tank, the Economic POlicy Institute, and remains its Chairman. He also served as Director of Board of Trustees of the Pennsylvania Health and Welfare Fund; is Vice President of Americans for Democratic Acation; is a member of the board of the American Arbitration Association; a member of the Democratic National Committee; and is a member of the Democratic National Committee Laboror Council. McEntee is also a regular contributor to the online blog, "The Huffington Post."

Heavily involved in legislative affairs, McCentee has led efforts to strengthen and improve such workplace standards as the minimum wage, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the Family and Medical Leave Act. For his efforts to improve the lives of working families, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights presented McEntee with its prestigious Hubert H. Humphrey Award in 2004. McEntee continues as President of AFSCME, which now has 1.4 million members.
Part II: Gerald McEntee was elected as AFSCME’s President in 1981 after the death of his predecessor, Jerry Wurf. Prior to serving as AFSCME’s President, McEntee worked as an AFSCME organizer and union official in Pennsylvania. McEntee served as AFSCME’s president until his retirement in 2012. Please see the abstract included in Part 1 of this collection for additional biographical information.

AFSCME worked to find its place in a shifting economy and social landscape in 1990s and 2000s. Under McEntee’s leadership, AFSCME focused on issues such as welfare reform, Medicare and Medicaid, Affirmative Action, Social Security, efforts to increase the federal minimum wage, and, later, workplace protections for gay and lesbian employees. The union continued to focus on political organizing, aiming to help elect officials who would support the needs of workers and public employees. In response to changing classification policies for public employees, the union also looked to organize workers in industries such as home care while increasing organizing efforts in traditional public employee roles. With other member unions, AFSCME participated in AFL-CIO campaigns to rejuvenate the labor movement in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Arrangement

Part I: Arranged in 4 series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-19), Series 2 (Boxes 20-72), Series 3 (Boxes 73-101), Series 4 (Boxes 102-125) . See individual series for arrangement.
Part II: Arranged in 4 series - Series 1 (Boxes 126-151), Series 2 (Boxes 151-170), Series 3 (Boxes 171-185), and Series 4 (Boxes 185-191). Folders in each series are simply listed by their location within each box. Please note: folders are not arranged, so any given subject may be dispersed throughout several boxes within each series.

Acquisition

Part I: The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) designated Wayne State University as the official repository for its inactive records in 1974. The papers of Gerald W. McEntee (Executive Office) were deposited in the archives through a series of shipments from 1982-1996.
Part II: The AFSCME Office of the President: Gerald McEntee Records were first deposited at the Walter P. Reuther Library at the beginning of Gerald McEntee’s tenure as president in 1981. Subsequent deposits have occurred throughout Mr. McEntee’s tenure until shortly after his retirement in 2012.

Related Materials

Because the Office of the President influences many decisions made in AFSCME departments, most collections consisting of headquarters-generated material will relate to the materials in this collection. Related material also includes: AFSCME Office of the President: Arnold Zander Records AFSCME Office of the President: Jerry Wurf Records AFSCME Office of the Secretary-Treasurer: William Lucy Records

Transfers

Part II: One VHS recording was separated from this collection and transferred to the Audiovisual Department at the Reuther Library.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Susan Alteri.
Part II: Processed and finding aid updated by Meghan Courtney on January 7, 2015.

Creator

Title
Guide to the AFSCME Office of the President: Gerald W. McEntee Records
Status
completed
Author
Processed by Susan Alteri.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English

Revision Statements

  • 2015-01-07: Part 2 processed and finding aid updated by Meghan Courtney.

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

Contact:
5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA