Wurf Memorial Fund

Established 1982

Jerry Wurf, 1919-1981: A Short Biography

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.

Click Here for the entire short biography

The Fund

The Jerry Wurf Memorial Fund was established in memory of Jerry Wurf, the late President of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). Its income is used to initiate programs and activities that "reflect Jerry Wurf's belief in the dignity of work, and his commitment to improving the quality of lives of working people, to free open thought and debate about public policy issues, to informed political action. ..and to reflect his interests in the quality of management in public service, especially as it assures the ability of workers to do their jobs with maximum effect and efficiency in environments sensitive to their needs and activities.

Click Here for more information about AFSCME and the Jerry Wurf Scholarship.

2003 Wurf Memorial Lecture

2003 Wurf Memorial Lecture:"The Future of the Democratic Party and the Latino Vote", with Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico

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. Click on brochure for full speech....

2001 Wurf Memorial Lecture

2001 Wurf Memorial Lecture:"The Strength of America", with the 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. Click on the brochure cover for more...