Jerry Wurf Organizing Award:

The Jerry Wurf Organizing Award is given each year to an individual member, local, or group of workers who work tirelessly and effectively at organizing, empowering workers, and growing our union. Jerry Wurf, after whom the award is named, got his start in the labor movement picking up jobs in New York City cafeterias and organizing his co-workers to form a union.

We're proud to present the 2019 Jerry Wurf Organizing Award to the Organizing Committee at St. Stephens Health and Human Services.

At AFSCME, as an organizer and eventually as the International President, Jerry radically changes our union, our organizing practices, and the basis by which public employees were perceived. Jerry fought tirelessly for public employees to be viewed, not as public servants who should be grateful to have a job, but as workers who should be treated with dignity and respect.

Under Jerry’s leadership, public workers throughout this country won collective bargaining rights, and our union grew from 220,000 members to over one million strong. But just as important, our union’s values shifted during that time to recognize that workers rights, civil rights, human rights, and responsible citizenship are fundamentally intertwined.

This year’s award recipients organized their co-workers, first and foremost, because they recognized that improving wages and working conditions is the only way to effectively reduce turnover and create stability and better outcomes for clients.

From their first committee meeting, it was clear that these workers had already built a strong sense of work community. But they took it even further, and spent the time strengthening their relationships, making sure every co-worker was included in the process, and turned that inclusion into collective action.

The workers of the St. Stephens Organizing Committee have and continue to demonstrate the values of what it means to be AFSCME.