For Immediate release
November 7, 2001
CONTACT: Mike Gildea
Ed McElroy, national Secretary-Treasurer of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), today was elected as Chairman of the Board of the Department for Professional Employees (DPE) of the AFL-CIO. The DPE is a coalition of 21 national unions affiliated with the parent labor federation, representing over 4 million highly skilled, white-collar professional, technical and administrative support workers throughout the country in over two hundred occupational categories. DPE affiliates include most of the labor movement’s largest organizations.
Chartered by the AFL-CIO in 1977, the DPE is one of several semi-autonomous “Trades” departments that unite unions with common interests and goals to provide a direct focus on the specific organizing, economic, public policy and other concerns of member unions within defined occupational sectors. The Trades Departments generally offer a variety advocacy, research and other support services to affiliated unions where special efforts are needed to supplement the work of individual unions and the AFL-CIO. The current president of DPE is Paul E. Almeida, former chief executive of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers.
In taking over the reigns of the DPE from Morty Bahr, president of the Communications Workers of America, McElroy noted that “the professional workforce is the fastest growing group in the U.S. economy and DPE unions are organizing these workers.” He specifically pointed to recent organizing successes among nurses and other health care professionals, graduate teaching assistants and engineers. “Contrary to the popular misconceptions that unions are primarily blue collar or service industry workers, almost 50% of all union members today are white collar. In fact, the professional specialty occupations now have more union members than any other occupational group,” he declared.
McElroy stated that “at a time when DPE unions are building on membership density in teaching, entertainment, health care and other professional sectors, I am proud to lead the Department, I look forward to working with the leaders of our affiliated unions to innovate outside-the-box strategies and tactics to recruit more professionals into America’s unions.” McElroy emphasized as a former teacher, ” I know how important it is to tell our story to professionals that unions are for them The union difference means better pay, benefits and job security, an effective voice on the job and improved dignity and respect for their standing as professionals.”
Edward J. McElroy has served as Secretary-Treasurer of the 1.2 million-member AFT since August 1992. He was elected as an AFT vice president in 1974, and four years later joined its seven-member national executive committee. McElroy was president of the Warwick (R.I.) Teachers Union, AFT Local 915, from 1968 through 1970 and president of the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers from 1971 until 1992. He served as president of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO from 1977 until 1992. A former social studies and English teacher in Warwick, R.I., McElroy earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Providence College. He has done graduate work at the University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College and the University of Connecticut. He is married and has four children and two grandchildren.
In addition to McElroy, the following were elected to the DPE Executive Committee (full time positions listed in parenthesis):
- Paul E. Almeida, President* (IFPTE past President)
- Bill Lucy, First Vice President (AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer)
- Gilles Beauregard, Secretary-Treasurer (OPEIU Secretary-Treasurer)
- Morty Bahr, General Vice President (CWA President)
- Alan Eisenberg, General Vice President (Actors’ Equity National Executive Director)
- Stuart Appelbaum, General Vice President (RWDSU President)
- Gregory Hamblet, General Vice President (UFCW Vice President)
- Tom Lee, General Vice President (AFM President)
- Greg Junemann, General Vice President (IFPTE President)
- Phil Thompson, General Vice President (SEIU Vice President)
*Full time position