Jerry McEntee is International President of the 1.4
million-member American Federation of State, County and
Municipal Employees (AFSCME), one of the most aggressive and
politically active organizing unions in the AFL-CIO. He holds
a bachelor’s degree in economics from LaSalle University in
Philadelphia and is a graduate of
the Harvard Trade Union Program.
He was elected Executive Director of AFSCME
Council 13 in Pennsylvania in 1973 and an International Vice
President of AFSCME in 1974.
In 1981 he was elected
President of AFSCME and went to Washington. The union
supplied McEntee with a car and chauffeur. When in town,
he had power lunches at The Palm, an
expense account restaurant where his caricature hung on the
wall. On junkets he didn’t fly first class, he flew in
chartered jets and stayed in the finest hotel suites.
It was all about politics.
McEntee built AFSCME’s
elaborate Get Out The Vote operation, a voter registration
effort, and an extensive phone bank system. The union gave
generously to politicians at all levels of government.
Early in election year 1992, before the New
Hampshire primaries, AFSCME’s board agreed to meet with
Southern dark horse presidential candidate Bill Clinton. He
brought along a letter of support from 840 AFSCME members in
Arkansas. He even showed them his own AFSCME membership card.
AFSCME became the first national union to back
Clinton. McEntee assigned three staff members to work for him
in New Hampshire.
When the election was over
Jerry McEntee was the union president closest to
the President of the United States.
He got to ride with Bill Clinton in
Air Force One. He was invited to Friday night bull sessions at
the White House mess.
He was the archetypal
Washington insider for all the Clinton years. He was active
for the Democrats in the two campaigns to beat Bush and the
McEntee is a co-founder and chairman of the board of the
Washington-based Economic Policy Institute. He suspects rival
Andy Stern of poaching new
SEIU members from his union. His relationship with
Rosenthal has been fraught with conflict.
He is a contributing writer for the
Huffington Post. He is a member of the Democratic
Party (United States) National Committee and thus a "super
delegate" in the Pennsylvania convention delegation.
A native of Philadelphia, McEntee and his wife Barbara live
in Washington, D.C.
McEntee's relationships are mapped on