Jerome Wurf

Jerome Wurf

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Jerome Wurf

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Jerome (Jerry) Wurf (May 8, 1919 – December 10, 1981) was a U.S. labor leader and president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) from 1964 to 1981.

Wurf was born in New York City in 1919. The son of immigrants (his father was a tailor and textile worker) from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, he developed polio at the age of four.

Wurf began a career in the American labor movement as a hotel worker organizer in New York City. He went to work for AFSCME in 1947, then rose through the ranks of New York City's District Council 37 to become its president. In 1958, Wurf wrung from mayor Robert F. Wagner, Jr. an executive order giving the city's workers the right to form unions, and providing for elections which could establish these unions as exclusive bargaining agents for the workers in various city agencies. District Council 37 won many of the ensuing elections, making it into one of the large public employee local unions in the world.Billings, Richard N. and Greenya, John. Power to the Public Worker. Washington, D.C.: Robert B. Luce, Inc., 1974. ISBN 0883310678

Wurf was extremely active in the American civil rights movement. He helped establish the first New York state chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in the late 1940s. He was a close associate of Martin Luther King, Jr., and King was attending an AFSCME sanitation strike when he was assassinated in 1968. "Let us never...
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