Jerry Wurf, A Short Biography

Jerry Wurf, 1919-1981

Jerry Wurf and Martin Luther King Jr.
Dr. Martin Luther King, P. J. Ciampa and
Jerry Wurf discuss the strike.
Photo by Richard L. Copley

As national president of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Jerry Wurf stood out as the twentieth century’s most influential leader in organizing U.S. public employees.

Born in New York on May 18, 1919, the son of immigrants from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Jerry Wurf developed polio at age 4. Later in life he lamented that, when it comes to health, he suffered from more afflictions than Job. Despite these many maladies, Jerry Wurf became a forceful communicator known for a foghorn voice and a steely determination to reshape the labor movement.
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