Labor leaders meet to chart a path forward

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The AFL-CIO Executive Council, made up of Labor leaders from across the country, met in Washington recently to chart a path forward for the movement and discuss the challenges and opportunities we face in bringing more working people into our ranks.

Chaired by United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International President Marc Perrone, the committee heard from a panel of four leading organizers who shared their success stories:

• AFSCME Organizing Director Mike Sukal explained that, as the Friedrichs case and other assaults on workers’ freedom loomed, AFSCME committed to internal organizing, setting a goal to engage one million members through one-on-one assessments. That ambitious endeavor led to remarkable success, as locals and councils converted 192,000 fee payers to full committed members.

• Ironworkers Organizing Director Dave Gornewicz noted that construction work has risen across the country, leading to a shortage of workers and greater bargaining power. Over the past several years, the Ironworkers have put more money and staff into organizing and focused on building a model that works.

• Alisa Gallo, deputy director of UNITE HERE’s Food Service Division, and Carlos Aramayo, financial secretary-treasurer of UNITE HERE Local 26, highlighted their work in industries that rely on private equity and other firms looking to squeeze every possible dollar from their immigrant and African American workforces. In this tough environment, UNITE HERE has built a comprehensive campaign model of organizing that utilizes integrated teams of researchers and organizers.

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