2022 Convention chooses first woman, first African American to lead nation’s largest union federation
The following is from the AFL-CIO:
PHILADELPHIA (June 13, 2022) — The AFL-CIO Convention delegates on Sunday elected Liz Shuler to serve as president of the federation of 57 unions and 12.5 million members. Shuler is the first woman to hold the office in the history of the labor federation. Delegates also elected Fred Redmond to serve as secretary-treasurer, the first African American to hold the office.
“We are going to amplify the voices of working people — their hopes, struggles, and demands. This is more than a comeback story,” said President Shuler. “This is a new story, yet to be told. A story we will write, on our terms, to be written by every one of us. A new era for all working people across this country. And generations from now, they’ll tell the story of how we succeeded, together, in solidarity.”
In her acceptance speech, Shuler delivered a call to action to organize, innovate and reshape the labor movement to meet the moment that the country is in as it continues to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. Shuler also announced the AFL-CIO’s moonshot to organize and activate 1 million workers throughout all 50 states to participate in the electoral process.
Redmond echoed Shuler’s remarks stating, “We will keep fighting until every worker in this country has the chance to have a good, union job. Everybody in, nobody out. And we’re going to fix our labor laws and make that a reality. I know what the labor movement does. It brings the marginalized in from the margins. It brings respect to the disrespected. It lets people come together and collectively bargain for their own future.”
Shuler and Redmond are committed to creating a bold, inclusive and forward-thinking labor movement that meets the needs of all working people, especially young historically marginalized groups, including women and communities of color.
From 2009 until 2021, Shuler served as the AFL-CIO’s secretary-treasurer. She assumed the role of president following the passing of Richard Trumka in 2021.
Shuler began her career as an organizer, working to unionize clerical workers at Portland General Electric in Oregon. The daughter of an Electrical Workers (IBEW) member, Shuler witnessed firsthand the difference that a union makes in creating a fair and equitable pathway to the middle class. She worked her way up through the ranks at the IBEW in her capacity as a grassroots organizer, lobbyist and chief of staff to the international president. Her efforts caught the attention of Richard Trumka, who subsequently asked Shuler to join the leadership slate in 2009. She was both the youngest and first woman elected as secretary-treasurer at the AFL-CIO Convention. Her leadership is informed by the union values she witnessed growing up, and her background in organizing laid the groundwork for her administration’s investment and dedication to using relational organizing as a tool to uplift and empower the labor movement.
Redmond has been a United Steelworkers (USW) member since 1973, when he went to work at Reynolds Metals Co. in Chicago. He became active in his local union almost immediately, serving as shop steward and eventually vice president. He served three terms as local president. For decades, Redmond served the USW in various staff and leadership roles, assisting local unions, developing and conducting training programs, and bargaining contracts. As the international vice president for human affairs, a position to which he was first elected to in 2006, Redmond oversaw the union’s Civil and Human Rights Department and worked with USW allies across the country in responding to attacks on voting rights and in combating economic inequality.
The 29th AFL-CIO Constitutional Convention is the most important democratic event the federation hosts, where delegates meet quadrennially to chart the course for the labor movement’s future. It is an opportunity for union affiliates and their members to make their voices heard. Representatives from the federation’s unions come together to debate and vote on resolutions, attend educational sessions, mobilize for action, and elect federation leadership to direct the AFL-CIO for the next four years. Convention delegates represent the labor leaders of today and tomorrow from all corners of the country. Individual segments will highlight worker stories and organizing efforts, inspiring collaborations and game-changing initiatives.
Here are the AFL election proceedings from Sunday:
Watch the continuing AFL-CIO Convention live on AFLCIO.TV.