ViewPoint: AFL-CIO’s Shuler Talks 2016 Election, Workers’ Rights

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler is the youngest officer to sit on the labor federation’s executive council.

As the Secretary Treasurer of the AFL-CIO, Liz Shuler holds the second highest position in an organization of nearly 12.5 million union workers. Shuler took some time out of her busy schedule to sit down with the IAM’s ViewPoint crew to talk about the 2016 election, workers’ rights, and all things union.

WATCH: ViewPoint with Liz Shuler

Shuler got her start in the labor movement by being part of an organizing campaign at her workplace, and organizing has stuck with her through the years.

“I think we’re all organizers at heart,” said Shuler. “The work that we do really does require organizing skills in everything.”

In 2009 she became the first women elected to the position and the youngest officer to sit on the AFL-CIO’s Executive Council.

“Since being elected six years ago to this position, I have had a passion around organizing and engaging young people and how we grow the union movement, making sure we are on the cutting edge of training and workforce development, appealing to workers of color and women and opening our doors even wider than we ever have before,” said Shuler.

Shuler praised the IAM and other unions for rallying workers to take a stand against the TPP.

“The Machinists Union and others have been educating their members and really mobilizing and galvanizing working people to say no to unfair trade deals,” said Shuler.

The labor movement has always been the voice for all workers, not just union members. Getting certain benefits at the bargaining table helps other outside our ranks. Shuler believes this should be talked about more, and people need to hear that unions are the ones bringing these positive changes.

“It’s shocking to a lot of people that 40 percent of private sector workers don’t have paid sick days, and in the union movement that’s something that we fought for over time and most of our contracts do address paid time off,” said Shuler. “It’s up to us to make that accessible to everyone. People are coming to work sick and they have to choose whether they actually make a living or take care of themselves and their family. That’s not right.”