William Lucy began his career with the aMerican Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) in 1956 as a member in the local union of Contra Costa employees. Nine years later, in 1965, his fellow workers elected him president. Soon after, Lucy left hid engineering work to devote his efforts full-time in the labor movement as the associate director of legislative and community affairs at AFSCME headquarters. As the tumultuous 1960s came to an end, Mr. Lucy and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s paths crossed in his hometown of Memphis.Mr. Lucy cam to Memphis to assist in a sanitation workers strike. Dr. King also came to assist by holding one march and planning another for April 8th. The second march on April 8th would soon be altered due to Dr. King’s April 4th assassination.
In 1972, Mr. Lucy was elected the first African-American International Secretary Treasurer of AFSCME. That same year, he founded the coalition of Black Trade Unionists where he served as president until 2005. Mr. Lucy’s advocacy pushed beyond the American shores to protest Apartheid in South Africa, eventually supervising the country’s first democratic elections in 1994. His service increased internationally as he served as vice-president of Public Services International, the worlds largest Service union, representing 10 million members worldwide.
After over four decades of service to workers in America and around the globe, Mr. Lucy eventually retired from all three posts.