A truly democratic union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) is run by its members. Every member has a vote in the election of local union officers and board members. Each local has its own constitution and members vote at meetings to determine policy, activities and local dues structure. Members also vote on contract approval or rejection. These rights are guaranteed by the International Union Constitution and the Bill of Rights for Members. Nationwide, AFSCME is 1.6 million strong – the fastest-growing and most progressive union in the country.
Council 13 of AFSCME was established in 1973 to improve wages, benefits, and working conditions for public and private non-profit Pennsylvania employees – those who protect and serve the citizens of the commonwealth. Our members are employed at the state, county, township, borough, and city level, and in health care and social service facilities throughout Pennsylvania.
AFSCME members take care of the sick and needy, maintain our roads, light our homes, provide safe drinking water, administer government claims and keep our communities safe. We educate, nurture and prepare future leaders and much, much more.
AFSCME members have won strong contracts, competitive wage increases, job security, fair grievance procedures, comprehensive health insurance, a strong voice with management, worker-friendly legislation, important court rulings and dignity in the work place.
Until the late 1960s, public service employees in Pennsylvania worked under the “patronage” system – they were hired and fired at the will of their political employers. Gerald McEntee, who retired as AFSCME International President in 2012 after 31 years, was then a young AFSCME staff member in Philadelphia. McEntee dreamed of a better life for public employees, and he embarked upon the largest organizing drive in American labor history.
From a cramped, one-room office in Philadelphia, McEntee worked with a small staff including Pat Salvatore, Buck Martin, and Edward Keller, who would later become the Executive Director of Council 13 after McEntee was elected International AFSCME President in 1981. Together, the team led the drive to organize more than 75,000 of Pennsylvania’s public service employees.