A new leadership team took the helm of the AFL-CIO with the nomination and election of Richard Trumka as President, Liz Shuler as Secretary-Treasurer and Arlene Holt Baker as Executive Vice President.
Trumka succeeds John Sweeney who retired after serving for 14 years as president of the AFL-CIO. In a passing of the gavel at the 2009 AFL-CIO Convention in Pittsburgh, PA, Sweeney praised his successor’s energy and dedication. Trumka thanked Sweeney for his mentoring and leadership, and pledged a new future for the middle class and organized labor. “Middle-class people who once hoped of living the American Dream are today living in chaos,” said Trumka. “We’re losing health care. We’re losing our pensions. We’re losing our jobs. And we are losing our patience!… Our message to America is that just as unions built the middle class once before, if you give us the chance, we can build it again!”
Trumka promises a labor movement that embraces a younger generation, yet holds true to the struggles and lessons of union members who came before. He’s called for the creation of a summit of young workers to discuss their struggles and craft an action agenda for 2010. “These men and women need a strong voice,” he says. “But when they look at unions, they don’t see themselves, only a grainy, faded picture from another time. That’s not the way it has to be. The labor movement can’t ask the next generation of workers to change how they earn their living to fit our model of trade unionism. No! We have to change our approach to organizing and representation to better meet their needs. And we will!”
In his first major act as president, Trumka welcomed back service and textile members of UNITE HERE. The 250,000-member organization left the federation in 2005.
In addition to the top three officers, convention delegates elected 51 vice presidents who will make up the AFL-CIO Executive Council. Each newly-elected officer will serve a term of four years.