AFL-CIO Elects New President

The AFL-CIO Executive Council elected current Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler, the federation’s acting president, to hold the top job through its convention next year. 

Shuler, an Electrical Worker from IBEW Local 125 in Portland, Oregon, becomes the first woman to officially head the nation’s largest labor federation. In its Aug. 20 session, the council elected Steelworker Vice President Fred Redmond to succeed her as secretary-treasurer.

With current Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre, who will continue in that job, the changes mean the federation leadership team includes, for the first time, no white men.

Redmond will be the federation’s first African American person to hold its No. 2 job. Gebre, from the Teamsters and then AFSCME, is a naturalized citizen and Ethiopian refugee.

The fed’s board had to act after incumbent President Richard Trumka died of a heart attack on Aug. 5. He made one last trip to the AFL-CIO, lying in repose in his coffin in the federation lobby on Aug. 14, as tributes poured in. 

“I am humbled, honored and ready to guide this federation forward,” Shuler said in a statement released after the board’s decision. 

“I believe in my bones the labor movement is the single greatest organized force for progress. This is a moment for us to lead societal transformations—to leverage our power to bring women and people of color from the margins to the center—at work, in our unions and in our economy, and to be the center of gravity for incubating new ideas that will unleash unprecedented union growth.” 

“I could not be more excited to get to work with President Shuler so we can build on the labor movement’s legacy of change, writing a new chapter that brings the promise of union membership to workers across this country,” Redmond said. “This is the right team at the right time to help bring about the economic and social justice America is hungry for.”