AFT President Emeritus
Edward J. McElroy
EDWARD J. McELROY, longtime educator and labor leader, is president emeritus of the 1.5 million-member American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO, having served as its president from 2004 to 2008. Prior to his election as president, McElroy served 12 years as AFT secretary-treasurer. He joined the AFT executive council in 1974 and was re-elected as a vice president every two years until his election as secretary-treasurer. McElroy also served on the executive council of the AFL-CIO, to which he was elected in December 2001.
During McElroy's tenure as a national officer, the AFT added more than 500,000 new members. The union's commitment to professionalism and to advancing the well-being of its members, as well as the people they serve, was consistently reflected in McElroy's priorities and accomplishments. The AFT is one of the fastest-growing labor unions in the United States, representing workers in education, healthcare and government services.
McElroy began his career as a social studies and English teacher in Warwick, R.I., and was elected president of the Warwick Teachers Union, Local 915, in 1967. At age 30, he became president of the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers, a position he held until he was elected AFT secretary-treasurer. As president of the RIFT, McElroy personally handled numerous negotiations and arbitrations. McElroy served as president of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO from 1977 until 1992 and earned a reputation as a unifier and effective representative of public and private sector unions.
Throughout his years at the national union, McElroy led efforts to strengthen and uphold financial and accountability requirements at every level of the union. He was at the forefront of the AFT's initiatives to harness technology to support, inform and mobilize union members.
While serving on the AFT executive council, McElroy was instrumental in launching the Futures Committee, a panel of AFT vice presidents who spent two years consulting with AFT leaders and members to shape a new direction for the union in its governance and structure. The resulting constitutional amendments enhanced the role of constituencies outside the AFT's K-12 teacher division and made other recommendations on strategic planning, financial practices for affiliates and establishing priorities for the AFT. That process is ongoing.
McElroy is currently the interim Chief Executive Officer of the Union Labor Life Insurance Committee, having previously served as a Director and as the Chairman of the Audit Committee. He also serves on the board of directors of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, Education International, and ThanksUSA. McElroy is a member of the board of directors for the National Endowment for Democracy (NED)—a private, nonprofit organization created to strengthen democratic institutions around the world through nongovernmental efforts.
McElroy is a graduate of Providence College. He resides in Washington, D.C., is married to Edwina B. (Ricci) McElroy and has four children, Kathy, Mary, Steven and Elizabeth and three grandchildren, Kyle, Evan and Chloe.