OCTOBER 25, 2019 – FRIDAY
12:00 PM to 1:30 PM Labor Luncheon……York
William “Bill” Lucy is indisputably the most prolific African American labor leader since the late A. Philip Randolph. Over a career spanning more than 50 years, Bill Lucy repeatedly has been at the crossroads of history -- his legacy secured.
From Memphis to the Mideast to South Africa – Bill Lucy. With King, with Mandela, with Obama – Bill Lucy. Through thick and thin – always Bill Lucy.
He redefined the role of black trade unionists in electoral politics; he led the push to open more union leadership positions to people of color and women; and he won international respect and visibility for African American labor activists in the global movement for social justice and empowerment
Bill was dispatched to Memphis by the late AFSCME President Jerry Wurf to help resolve a labor strike by 1,300 black city sanitation workers who were fed up with racism, dangerous working conditions and, above all else, the refusal of white city leaders to recognize and negotiate with their union, AFSCME Local 1733. Bill worked closely with the strikers and the black community that rallied to support them. He also worked in tandem with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who came to Memphis to support the strikers. In the tumultuous aftermath of Dr. King’s tragic murder at a Memphis hotel, Bill played a key role in steering the grieving men back to the bargaining table, where city leaders ultimately met their major demands.
Four years later, Bill was catapulted to the ranks of national leadership. Elected in 1972 as AFSCME’s international secretary-treasurer, he became the nation’s highest-ranking African American union leader. Skillfully, he transformed what is ordinarily a passive, ceremonial position into a powerful platform to advocate on behalf of AFSCME members and oppressed workers and communities worldwide.
He helped the Congressional Black Caucus and Trans Africa get started. In 1972, Bill also co-founded the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists. Many had predicted CBTU’s quick demise. Instead, under Bill’s steady hand, the organization has grown in size and stature – from a handful of chapters to more than 50 today, including a chapter