Jerry Wurf Memorial Forum

2018 Jan 24

Jerry Wurf Memorial Forum:  "History Revisited: Memphis Sanitation Workers 1968"

5:00pm to 7:00pm


Ames Courtroom, Austin Hall, Harvard Law School

Wurf Lecture Lucywith AFSCME
2018 Wurf Memorial Lecture: WIlliam Lucy with members from AFSCME
We are proud to present this year's Jerry Wurf Memorial Forum speaker: William Lucy, former Secretary-Treasurer of AFSCME and  founding President of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU). 

Sponsored by the Harvard Trade Union Program
Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard Law School
Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, Harvard Law School
Joint Center for Housing Studies, Harvard University 


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2011 Feb 10

"Raising Our Sights: Fighting for a Progressive Vision in Sharply Contested Terrain"

4:00pm to 6:00pm

    Miles Rapoport
Miles Rapoport
President of Demos  
Paul Booth
Paul Booth
Executive Assistant
to the President, AFSCME

Opening Remarks by Paul Booth, Executive Assistant to the President, AFSCME:"Miles Rapoport is the president of Demos. What is Demos? There is an awful lot of Demos material out on the table there, and you really should indulge freely in it. To me, Demos is simply the leading voice in the United States for small d democracy. Its mission, as I see it, is this cause which it so
ably advances.

Miles Rapoport has a career that included personal involvement in Connecticut politics, to which he brought activism, organizational skills, and a set of real deep commitments."

Brochure of full transcript: [Download]

1984 Nov 01

“Employment and Welfare”

4:00pm to 6:00pm

Olof Palme
Olof Palme,
Swedish Prime Minister

"Some time ago in Vienna, I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Bruno Kreisky's speech when he retired as chancellor and leader of the Austrian Social Democratic Party. As we in the audience sat there listening, we expected to hear an account of his long and eventful life and of his wide-ranging and successful political experiences. But not at all! Bruno Kreisky talked only about the future. At his retirement from official life, the whole of his thinking was looking forward..."

Brochure of transcript [Download]

1989 Nov 01

"The Changing Role of the Union and Competitiveness"

4:00pm to 6:00pm

Keynote Address: "The Changing Role of the Union and Competitiveness"
Donald Ephlin
International Vice President and Director of the
General Motors Department, United Auto Workers

William Lucy
International Secretary-Treasurer, American
Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees

Postscript I: Lessons Learned
Linda Kaboolian
Research Fellow in the Center for Business
and Government, John F. Kennedy
School of Government, Harvard University

Postscript II: The Forces Driving Change
Kim Clark
Professor of Business Administration,
Harvard Business School

Brochure of Transcript [Download]

2001 Oct 04

"The Strength of America"

4:00pm to 6:00pm

Al Gore

Honorable Albert J. Gore

Opening Remarks by Lawrence H. Summers, President, Harvard University: 
 " Al Gore is going to speak to us about the strength of America. In a moment, I want to say a few words about the strength of Al Gore but, before I do, I want to say a few words about public service. I want to recognize Jerry Wurf, someone I knew well as his family vacationed near mine in Wellfleet, Massachusetts and someone who I admired for his commitment to doing the right thing by the people he represented and doing the right thing by this country. Jerry made what I think is a point that none of us at the university can make often enough or strongly enough and that is the importance of public service. There was only one group of people who were going up the stairs in the World Trade Center on September 11 and those were public servants. Public servants. People who are paid by taxes. People who were workers in the government of New York City, workers in the government of New York State and workers in the government of the United States. Anyone who wants to say that government work is wrong or that government is wrong or that government is bad should think about those people going up those stairs at that moment."

Brochure of transcript [Download]

2003 Oct 07

"The Future of the Democratic Party and the Latino Vote"

4:00pm to 6:00pm

Bill Richardson

Bill Richardson
Governor of New Mexico
Introductions and Opening Remarks by: Elena Kagan
Harvard Law School,
Harvard University

Gerald McEntee
American Federation of
State, County and
Municipal Employees

Opening Remarks by Elena Kagan, Dean, Harvard Law School:
" This is a great privilege for us. Actually, before I say anything else I'd like to welcome Jerry Wurf's family: Mildred Wurf and his children, Abigail and Nick Wurf. We are extremely pleased that you could join us today.
    For those of you who don't know, Jerry Wurf was the seventh president of AFSCME, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which is now one of the biggest unions in America. Most of that union's great growth, really its coming into being as a major force in the union movement, took place under Jerry Wurf, who was really one of the great modern labor leaders."

Brochure of Transcript [Download]

2012 Feb 09

“She Was One of Us: Eleanor Roosevelt and the American Worker”

4:00pm to 6:00pm

Brigid O’Farrell
Brigid O’Farrell
Mills College
Elissa McBride
Elissa McBride
Director of Education and
Leadership Training, AFSCME

Opening Remarks by Elissa McBride, Director of Education and Leadership Training, AFSCME:
"Like Eleanor, [Brigid] knows that we can make real change if we link education and action. I hope you will listen, learn, and leave committed to honor the legacy of Jerry Wurf and Eleanor Roosevelt by passing on the knowledge you gain here to others, so that together, we can restore the right to organize and bargain for all workers – public and private."

Brochure of full transcript: [Download]

2013 Feb 14


4:00pm to 6:00pm

Saket Soni
Saket Soni
Executive Director
New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice and
National Guestworker Alliance


Elissa McBride
Opening Remarks by
Elissa McBride,
Director of Education and Leadership Training, AFSCME

Opening Remarks by Elissa McBride:
"Born and raised in New Delhi, India, Saket Soni has been a driving force in the effort to secure justice for workers fighting for their dignity in post-Katrina New Orleans. During the reconstruction of the Gulf Coast, black workers whose families had lived in New Orleans for generations were denied jobs. At the same time, thousands of immigrant workers were given false promises of steady jobs, fair pay, great conditions and even permanent legal status...Saket Soni brought those workers together, linking their struggles across the lines of race and class and citizenship. He helped build a broad platform from which they could wage an inspiring fight for justice and dignity."

 Brochure of full transcript: [Download]

2014 Feb 06

"Citizens Derided: Corporate Politics & Religion in the Roberts Court"

4:00pm to 6:00pm

Jamin Raskin Darrin Spann
Jamin Raskin,
Professor, American University,
Washington College of Law &
Maryland State Senator

Introduction by 
Darrin Spann, Assistant Director of AFSCME Council 13 in Pennsylvania 

Opening Remarks by Professor Jamin B. Raskin: 
"In 2010, in the 5-4 Citizens United decision, the conservative majority on the Roberts Court broke from government 'of the people, by the people, and for the people,' and gave us a constitutional blueprint for government of the corporations, by the corporations, and for the corporations. It held that for-profit corporations have the right to spend unlimited sums—million or billions of dollars-- promoting or disparaging candidates for public office."

 Brochure of full transcript [Download]

2015 Feb 19

“Labor, Racism, and Justice in the 21st Century”

4:00pm to 6:00pm

Rev. Lawson and Naomi Walker
Naomi Walker and Rev. Lawson

Introduction by Naomi Walker, Assistant to the President of AFSCME

Reverend James Lawson excerpt:
 “…. to make a long story short, I want to try to say that the experiment to have a democratic society is the most important experiment the human race has launched, probably ever. To lift human life to a level where we have the capacity to govern ourselves and to live with one another and to create cooperation rather than war and violence is the great frontier for the 21st century and beyond. And in that act of shaping democratic society, unions are absolutely essential.”

Brochure of full speech [Download]