Courtesy of AFL-CIO
McGarvey, BCTD secretary-treasurer since 2005, was Governing Board of Presidents' unanimous choice as new president.

The AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Dept. has elected Sean McGarvey, its secretary-treasurer, as its new president. The BCTD said the April 16 vote of its Governing Board of Presidents was unanimous.

McGarvey, who is about 50, succeeds Mark Ayers, who died suddenly on April 8 at age 63. Ayers had led the building trades group since 2007. The organization’s board also voted unanimously to give Ayers the title of president emeritus.

James Williams, president of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, said there were no other successor candidates says that "there was no question" that McGarvey would be the next president.

"He's done an outstanding job," says Williams, crediting his financial stewardship of the department and noting that the new president was "instrumental" in the 2008 return of the Laborers' union after it disaffiliated from the building trades two years before.

Terry O'Sullivan, Laborers' union president, nominated McGarvey for his new position, says a union spokeswoman.

McGarvey, a former vice president of the Painters' union and a 31-year member, was hand-picked by former building trades' President Ed Sullivan for the secretary-treasurer position in 2005, according to Williams.

The BCTD said that a decision on filling the secretary-treasurer position “was deferred at this time.” One union source points to a possible candidate from the International Union of Electrical Workers, the union to which Ayers belonged, but did not identify the person.

There also is speculation that the International Union of Operating Engineers, which also disaffiliated in 2006, will rejoin the BCTD, according to union officials. That union named a new president in November, James T. Callahan. He has been serving since 2003 as president and business manager of Local 15 in New York City.

The union has "maintained cordial relations" with the BCTC, says Jeff Aboussie, head of the Building and Consruction Trades Councll in St. Louis. ""Hopefully they will see value in coming back to the table."

McGarvey was re-elected secretary-treasurer in August 2010.

A Philadelphia native, McGarvey began his union career as an apprentice glazier with Glazier’s Local 252 in his home town. The local is affiliated with the painters' union.

McGarvey rose through the union’s ranks and in 2000 was elected its general vice president at large and two years later was named government affairs director.