On Oct. 22, delegates to the AFL-CIO’s 28th constitutional convention in St. Louis elected Richard Trumka as president, Liz Shuler as secretary-treasurer and Tefere Gebre as executive vice president. In addition, delegates elected 55 vice presidents – including SIU President Michael Sacco – who will serve as the executive council for a four-year term.
Sacco is the longest-serving member of the federation’s executive council.
Trumka begins his third term as president of the AFL-CIO; he first was elected in 2009. Before his election to president, Trumka became the youngest president of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) in 1982 and secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO in 1995.
Born in the small, coal-mining town of Nemacolin, Pennsylvania, Trumka’s commitment to improving life for working people began early. He worked in the mines while attending Penn State and Villanova University law school. Throughout his leadership positions in the labor movement, Trumka has retained a strong commitment to creating an economy based on broadly shared prosperity, and holding elected officials and employers accountable to working families.
“I am humbled and honored for the opportunity to serve the working families of the AFL-CIO,” Trumka said. “We are committed to delivering on what we’ve started – a focused, independent and modern federation that works for working people and fights successfully for our shared priorities. We’ve come a long way, but we still have work to do.”
Shuler begins her third term as secretary-treasurer, the second-highest position in the labor movement. Initially elected in 2009, she became the first woman elected as the federation’s secretary-treasurer.
Shuler, a graduate of the University of Oregon, worked her way through the ranks of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) beginning at IBEW Local 125 at Portland General Electric in Portland, Oregon, where she grew up. As secretary-treasurer, Shuler has led the federation’s efforts to engage with young workers, promote women’s leadership, guide the future of work and ensure the federation is on solid fiscal ground.
“Serving as secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO has been the greatest honor of my life and I’m confident that together, we will adapt to the challenges ahead and secure the future of our movement,” Shuler said. “As we look ahead, we realize the future of our movement isn’t far off, and it won’t be easy. But nothing worth doing ever is.”
Gebre begins his second term as executive vice president. In 2013, Gebre became the first immigrant, political refugee, black man and local labor council leader elected as a national officer of the AFL-CIO.
Born in Gondar, Ethiopia, Gebre fled state-sanctioned violence and emigrated to Los Angeles as a teenager. A graduate of Cal Poly Pomona, Gebre has devoted his entire life to the values of democracy, justice and helping workers organize to achieve a voice at the workplace. Before coming to the AFL-CIO, Gebre led the Orange County Labor Federation. As executive vice president, Gebre has focused on building strong labor-community partnerships at the local level through the movement’s central labor councils and state federations.
“These are tough times for our country, our movement, and our communities,” Gebre said. “But in the face of these challenges, I have hope of a brighter day, a stronger tomorrow and an America with liberty and justice for all. As executive vice president I pledge to do my part, lead with my heart and never stop fighting.”
Visit the AFL-CIO website (aflcio.org) for detailed coverage of the convention, which ended Oct. 25.