By acclamation today, delegates to AFSCME’s 44th International Convention, reelected Lee Saunders to serve another term as the union’s president and Elissa McBride to serve as secretary-treasurer.
Saunders was first elected to the union’s highest office in 2012 amid unprecedented attacks against working people and has brought about reforms that have strengthened the union from top to bottom.
His signature achievement thus far has been AFSCME Strong, an initiative that not only prioritized modernizing the union but changing its culture in advance of Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, the Supreme Court decision brought by right-wing billionaires to “defund and defang” the labor movement. Because of the organizing, communications, political and cultural shifts achieved by AFSCME Strong, our union has emerged stronger than ever as reflected in this year’s convention theme, “Front-Line Heroes: Never Stronger.”
During Saunders’ eight years as president, AFSCME has won collective bargaining rights for tens of thousands of public service workers in Nevada, California and Virginia, and defeated some of the worst anti-union governors in America – all as public support for unions has reached a near 50-year high. Under Saunders, the union has been hugely influential politically and is determined to elect Joe Biden to the White House as well as pro-worker candidates to office at every level of government.
Saunders said, “I’m proud of all we have achieved together, excited by what the future holds, and humbled by AFSCME members’ belief in me to lead the greatest and most storied union in America for another four years. AFSCME will keep innovating and mobilizing, because it is the best way to unrig an economy that continues to favor the wealthy instead of creating opportunity for working people.”
Convention delegates also reelected Elissa McBride as secretary-treasurer, a post she has held since 2017. McBride’s first term was marked by purposeful strategic planning and prudent budgeting, putting AFSCME on solid financial footing for the future.
McBride continues to display her passion for helping people build power in the workplace and equipping them with the skills they need to maintain it. Bringing her deep experience in education and organizing to her role, she has led the creation of the Secretary-Treasurer Online Resource Center, a first-of-its-kind tool providing AFSCME leaders with the financial education and training they need to build strong local unions.
She also played a key role in the development of two new online resources: Union 411, a series of short videos exploring and explaining the fundamentals of unionism; and a Facebook Live speaker series, Ideas@AFSCME, featuring conversations with a host of champions for working people.
“The next four years will be full of opportunities for our nation and our movement,” said McBride. “AFSCME members are always strongest in tough times, and we are ready to rebuild our economy and our communities to be better, more equitable, and more accountable to working people. I look forward to another four years of standing shoulder to shoulder with AFSCME Strong activists and President Saunders in making our vision for fairness and justice a reality.”
AFSCME has been a fierce advocate for public service workers who have answered the call during the coronavirus pandemic, fighting for PPE, access to testing, and other resources and protections. A key voice in the legislative battle for state and local aid, Saunders was relentless in advocating for funding to maintain public services and preserve the jobs of everyday heroes who continue to risk their lives on the front lines of the pandemic.
“Our nation owes public service workers a huge debt of gratitude for the strength and sacrifice they have shown, stopping at nothing to protect their communities under the most difficult and dangerous conditions,” said Saunders. “At this pivotal moment in American history, AFSCME will continue to be a powerful voice for progress. We will lead the way, as the nation tackles a public health crisis, starts the road to economic recovery and confronts systemic racial injustice. As we look toward November and the challenges beyond, we do so as a union that has never been stronger.”