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    AFL-CIO’s First Female President Responsible for The Decisive Moments of the US Labor Movement | US Trade Unions

    NSOr in 2012, Liz Shuler was second to Richard Trumka, chairman of the AFL-CIO, a major US union coalition, but at the time Schuller organized labor after the unexpected death of Trumka in August. Became the first female chairman. The United States faces serious problems and extraordinary opportunities.

    Many union members want the well-received and hard-working 51-year-old Schuller to understand how to take advantage of these opportunities. Public for organized labor in the United States as many young workers flock to unions and millions of overstressed and low-wage frontline workers are waiting to improve their lots. Approval has risen to the highest level in over 50 years.

    “The biggest challenge workers face is whether we can prepare for the opportunity at hand,” said April Sims, Secretary-General of the Washington State Labor Council. “Union favors have been high for a long time. We learned from Covid how dependent our society and economy are on workers. We probably have the most pro-worker president since the FDR. The challenge for us as a trade union is whether we can take advantage of this moment. “

    At the same time, Schuller and all US workers face some difficult obstacles.

    Only 6% of private sector workers belong to unions, the lowest level of the century. Republicans are keen to weaken unions, and most US companies, led by the giant Amazon and Wal-Mart, are fiercely opposed to unionization.

    Many union leaders are eager to reverse the decades of decline of workers and are sometimes faced with despair. “My biggest challenge in 30 years is the systematic abolition of collective bargaining. Private sector collective bargaining now covers only 6% of workers, down from 30. “Larry Cohen, the former president of the Communications Workers’ Union, said. America, and now our Revolutionary Chairman, is a progressive group spun out of Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign. “I think Liz Shuler and the AFL-CIO need to focus on it almost independently.”

    According to Cohen, there are many stories of encouragement that workers are trying to form a union, such as Buffalo’s Starbucks employees. Cohen said Schuller would undoubtedly support these efforts, but said he needed to pressure unions across the country to do more to support and expand their organization. ..

    Bill Fletcher, a former AFL-CIO Education Director and now Editor-in-Chief of Global African Workers, needs to make sure trade unions are using old strategies to fight the final war. Said. According to Fletcher, the battlefield has changed significantly for the workforce. There are far more gigrants, tech workers and migrant workers. Companies have become more sophisticated in the fight against unions. And young workers are more interested in unionization than they are in decades.

    “That’s something Liz Schuller and other Labor leaders have to think about,” Fletcher said. “This is a completely different labor movement, and what does it mean for the AFL-CIO?”

    Fletcher said the AFL-CIO and its members should raise large amounts of resources to ensure a breakthrough victory in order to help workers win on today’s new battlefield. .. It will create momentum and optimism and inspire more workers to look to unions. Fletcher also called on Schuller to promote labor for a much larger organization to unite thousands of workers at a time.

    After Torumka died on August 5, several union leaders came up with the idea of ​​electing a caretaker AFL-CIO president until the federal government held a convention in June next year. Some who supported the caretaker’s ideas expressed concern that Schuller was not sufficiently stimulating or foresighted when workers could use more visibility and inspiration. Some leaders also expressed concern that Schuler had never led a union or strike, unlike Trumka, who once led US miners. Prior to becoming AFL-CIO’s secretary and treasurer, Schuller was an assistant to the president of the International Electric Workers Fraternity Brotherhood.

    However, many union presidents dispelled these concerns when they overwhelmingly elected Schuler on August 20 to meet Trumka’s term until June. Many Labor leaders like Schuller respect her diligence and believe she can connect people. In addition, many felt that there should not be a divisive leadership battle shortly after Torumka’s death.

    “Liz was the second most effective person after Tormuka,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. As secretary and treasurer, Schuller oversaw the federal finance and outreach program for young workers.

    “People trust her because she knows she listens before she acts,” Weingarten said. “There is great credibility because of the nature of her collaboration. She does not see collaboration as Kumbaya. She sees collaboration as a way to move a very different coalition.”


    NSAFL-CIO is a coalition of 57 unions and nearly 10 million members. This includes industry unions such as steel workers, civil servant unions such as teachers, construction unions, and generally the most conservative unions in the Commonwealth. Some union leaders fear that Schuller is inextricably linked to the conservative construction industry.

    However, Jimmy Williams, President of the International Painters’ Union, said: “It’s ridiculous to say she’s dominated by the construction union. Things are made too often where the individual came from. Liz has spent the last 12 years at the AFL-CIO and the union. I have represented all the members. “

    Torumka signaled that he would not run for another four years, and it was widely believed that two candidates would fight to succeed him. I’m Sarah Nelson, president of the Schuller and Flight Attendants Association. Nelson has gained enthusiastic support among many ordinary workers for his progressive politics, rhetoric for his boss, and talent as a speaker.

    Nelson declined the interview, but one union leader who knew her emphasized her claim that the AFL-CIO needed to organize and mobilize workers much more in June next year. He said he could run for.

    Whether the AFL-CIO should primarily serve its members and lobby for them, or pressure unions to do more with organizing, politics, immigration and civil rights. There has been a long-standing debate about whether to be a strong leader. Some union presidents only want Schuler to serve union members, but to reverse worker slippage, rather than having the AFL-CIO play a greater role in organizing and politics. Some say they need to change to a muscular institution.

    “People grow into a role, and I think she grows into this role,” Weingarten said.

    One of the challenges Schuller faces is that everyone has advice on her.

    Cohen builds larger tents, reaches out to non-union workers more, and joins AFL-CIO with three large unions that are not affiliated with the federation: Teamsters, the National Education Association, and the Service Employees International Union. It states that it needs to be done.

    Sims, Washington, said: You can’t keep things going as usual. You have to challenge yourself to think more without being bound by preconceived ideas. “

    Williams, a painter’s union, said more unionization and more political organization were needed. “The two are closely related,” he said. Worker-friendly lawmakers are needed to enact legislation that protects against Republican attacks and makes it easier to form unions. “The biggest challenge is how to organize post-Trump members and reorganize them based on truth and values.”

    Rick Levy, president of the Texas AFL-CIO, said workers need to do more to protect American democracy. “As for our main challenge, things are collapsing, our democracy is collapsing,” he said. “The challenge is how we can help and become a really much more powerful movement in the face of these relentless attacks on what we take for granted and what we care about. Is it? “

    AFL-CIO’s First Female President Responsible for The Decisive Moments of the US Labor Movement | US Trade Unions

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