The AFL-CIO Executive Council has elected Liz Shuler as President. She succeeds Richard L. Trumka, who died unexpectedly on Aug. 5.
Shuler is the first woman to lead the AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations), a federation of 56 unions and 12.5 million members. She served previously as the Secretary-Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer, which she took on in 2009, at the same time Trumka became President.
The Executive Council also elected United Steelworkers (USW) International Vice President Fred Redmond to succeed Shuler as Secretary-Treasurer; he is the first African American to hold AFL-CIO’s No. 2 spot. Tefere Gebre will continue as Executive Vice President.
The terms of the three executive officers run through June 2022, when delegates to the AFL-CIO Convention in Philadelphia will elect leaders for new four-year terms.
Shuler grew up in a union household: Her father, Lance, was a power lineman and longtime member of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 125 at Portland General Electric, and her late mother, Joyce, worked as an estimator in the company’s service and design department, according to the AFL-CIO. In 1993, Shuler was hired as an organizer at Local 125. In 1998, Ed Hill, then-Secretary-Treasurer of the IBEW, assigned Shuler to California, where she mobilized members to help defeat Prop. 226. That victory prompted John J. Barry, then IBEW President, to hire her as an International Representative in the union’s Political/Legislative Affairs Department in Washington, D.C. In 2004, Shuler was promoted to Assistant to the International President.
Shuler serves on the Boards of the National Women’s Law Center; Institute for Women’s Policy Research; AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust; Alliance for Retired Americans; Solidarity Center; and Committee on Workers’ Capital and Women’s Committee of the International Trade Union Confederation. She chairs the Board of Directors of the Economic Policy Institute.
Redmond has been a USW member since 1973, when he went to work at Reynolds Metals Co. in Chicago. He became active in his local union, serving as Shop Steward and eventually Vice President. He served three terms as Local President.
For decades, Redmond served the USW in various staff and leadership roles. As International Vice President for Human Affairs, Redmond oversaw the Civil and Human Rights Department, as well as the union’s shipbuilding, healthcare and public sector bargaining. In 2021, Redmond was elected President of the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas.
Greg Regan, President, and Shari Semelsberger, Secretary-Treasurer, of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), issued this statement on the new officer elections:
“On behalf of millions of frontline transportation workers and the unions that represent them, we congratulate Liz Shuler and Fred Redmond on their unanimous election as president and secretary-treasurer, respectively, of the AFL-CIO.
“Today’s [Aug. 20] historic election comes during an unprecedented time in history. Working families are still bearing the brunt of a global public health and economic crisis. The introduction of new technologies, combined with the explosive rise of anti-worker business models, threatens to change the nature of work itself. And our movement continues to mourn the loss of former AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka.
“Conquering these challenges will not be easy, but the Executive Committee of the AFL-CIO chose wisely in electing Shuler and Redmond to lead America’s unions. Shuler and Redmond bring to the table proven leadership, grit, determination, and a deep understanding of the unique and complex needs of today’s working families. They will also usher in a new era in the American labor movement—one in which the experience and diversity of our leaders reflect the diverse backgrounds and skillsets of American workers. …”