American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees

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Duration: 1932 - present (South Africa mostly 1970s and 1980s)
Location: Washington, DC, United States

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) is a union of public employees, including nurses, corrections officers, child care providers, EMTs, sanitation workers, and others. AFSCME has a long history of supporting social justice; Martin Luther King Jr. was in Memphis to support AFSCME workers when he was assassinated. The national union and many AFSCME locals across the country supported campaigns against apartheid in South Africa, including campaigns to get states and cities to divest public pension funds (pension funds of their members) from companies doing business in South Africa. Among the states and cities where AFSCME locals played an important role in divestment campaigns are California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York City. AFSCME also was involved in the Boycott Shell Campaign. William Lucy, who was Secretary-General of AFSCME from 1972 to 2010, helped found the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) in 1972 and was an important leader of both that organization and the Free South African Movement. (Source: Material on this website including AFSCME documents; Make It in Massachusetts, Not in South Africa: How We Won Divestment Legislation by Mass Divest, American Committee on Africa, March 1983; Connecticut Anti-Apartheid Committee documents; and Boycott Shell Campaign documents.)