Trumka Re-Elected, Touts Unity at AFL-CIO Convention

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By Jaclyn Diaz

The anti-labor laws cropping up in states throughout the U.S. will become irrelevant as the labor movement reinforces its unified front moving forward, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka told reporters yesterday.

“You’re going to see a unity among the labor movement that you haven’t in decades,” Trumka said in a media briefing ahead of the start of the labor federation’s 28th constitutional convention.

Later in the day, delegates re-elected Trumka to a third term. He ran unopposed.

The convention’s theme of Join, Fight, Win Together was repeated throughout the first day of the event. Union leaders called for solidarity moving forward in the fight against “right to work” laws and in responding to humanitarian crises in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and other hurricane-stricken locations in the U.S.

To reinforce the goal of solidarity for years to come, the labor federation is working on a grassroots level to improve communication with workers and its affiliate union members to develop a common agenda for the labor movement.

That togetherness expands beyond the federation’s affiliate unions, Trumka said. Labor is working with groups not affiliated with the AFL-CIO on issues affecting collective bargaining and trade, for example. That partnership will continue, he said.

“We will work together hand in glove,” Trumka said.

Labor to Improve Communications

The AFL-CIO has also altered how it connects with its affiliate members.

The new approach started with young workers a few years ago with the leadership of Liz Schuler, the AFL-CIO’s secretary-treasurer, he said.

“Instead of going to them and saying, ‘Here’s what we have for you,’ we went to them and said, ‘What do you need?’” Trumka said. “We changed our approach, and as a result young people support unions more than any other group.”

The AFL-CIO and its affiliate members are approaching other workers in the same way.

“We will make it so that they will want to be a part of the union. It won’t matter about those” right-to-work laws. They will want to join because they understand the power of having a union voice at work, Trumka said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jaclyn Diaz in Washington at jDiaz@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at maulino@bna.com

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