First woman, first African-American elected to top AFL-CIO leadership

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AFL-CIO PRESIDENT Liz Shuler and Secretary-Treasurer Fred Redmond accept congratulations. They will serve four-year terms. – AFL-CIO photo

The national AFL-CIO wrote a new chapter in its storied history when delegates elected the first woman and first African-American into its top leadership.

At the 29th AFL-CIO Constitutional Convention meeting June 12-15, delegates elected Liz Shuler to serve as president and Fred Redmond to serve as secretary-treasurer of the federation of 57 unions and 12.5 million members.

“We are going to amplify the voices of working people – their hopes, struggles and demands,” Shuler said. “This is more than a comeback story. 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.”

CALL TO ACTION
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 one million workers.

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 death of Richard Trumka in 2021.

THE NEW LEADERS

  • Liz Shuler began her career as an organizer, working to unionize clerical workers at Portland General Electric in Oregon. The daughter of an 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 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 person and first woman elected as secretary-treasurer at the AFL-CIO Convention.
  • Fred Redmond began his union career as a United Steelworkers member in 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.

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