PHILADELPHIA, PA – The 2022 American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) Constitutional Convention was held from June 12-15 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.
Themed ‘Building the Movement to Meet the Moment’ and featuring guest speakers including United States President Joe Biden, US Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, and Georgia Candidate for Governor Stacey Abrams, the convention emphasized expanding on the momentum the labor movement has built over the past year.
Here are five moments that stood out to us:
1. Liz Shuler Becomes First Woman Elected AFL-CIO President, Fred Redmond Elected Secretary-Treasurer as highest ranking Black officer in Federation’s History.
AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler (pictured above, right) was elected by acclamation to serve as the first woman president of the federation. She expressed her gratitude to the delegates of the AFL-CIO Convention. Here is a portion of her remarks:
“We will develop, implement and scale powerful campaigns for unprecedented union growth. By concentrating resources and coordinating to achieve the biggest wins, the CTO will use the power of the entire U.S. labor movement. That’s 13 million of us in 57 unions in every state, in every ZIP code, in all industries. And here’s the bottom line. In the next 10 years, we will organize and grow our movement by more than 1 million working people.”
AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Fred Redmond (pictured above, left) also delivered an acceptance speech to the AFL-CIO Convention, after being unanimously elected as the highest ranking African American officer in the history of the labor federation.
In his remarks he quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who told us, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Redmond declared, “I know it’s true because I see all of us, as a movement, working to bend it. I know what the labor movement does. It brings the marginalized in from the margins. It brings respect to the disrespected. It lets people come together and collectively bargain for their own future… Let’s keep bending that arc toward justice.”
2. IATSE President Matthew D. Loeb Re-Elected to AFL-CIO National Executive Board
IATSE International President Matthew D. Loeb was re-elected to serve on the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) National Executive Board Monday June 13.
This came moments after Liz Shuler was elected as President of the AFL-CIO, making her the first woman in the federation’s history to be elected to the position. President Loeb was elected as part of Shuler’s slate of 55 Vice Presidents by acclamation.
“I am honored to continue to represent our members, and all workers throughout the country, as a member of the AFL CIO Executive Council. The labor movement is united under President Shuler and I look forward to our crucial work together,” said President Loeb on his election.
3. Animation Guild (IATSE Local 839) member Rachel Gitlevich Discusses Experience Forming a Union in June 15 Morning Address, Young Workers Panel.
On June 15, Rachel Gitlevich, a young animation worker part of a successful campaign to form a union at Titmouse NY with The Animation Guild (IATSE Local 839), delivered a powerful address to the delegation of the convention.
“We were the first animation studio in New York to organize in 40 years. That’s a very long time to go without a union. It’s really hard for animation workers to organize because the nature of labor in this country has changed. I’ve been at my studio for 10 years, but only going contract to contract. Freelance is kind of the name of the game. Being an independent contractor is the name of the game for the entertainment industry. The laws of this country don’t necessarily reflect that when it comes to organizing.
We’re not just fighting the studio bosses anymore. What we’re going up against is one of five media companies in the whole world. We’re also fighting to redefine means to be an entertainment industry worker, and what it means to be an organizer in the entertainment industry. Organizing in this country is a right and a privilege that our siblings overseas do not have, and we have been abusing and taking for granted our right as citizens for too long.
What we’re fighting for is ground up, democratic, transparent, empathetic, wall-to-wall organizing. Our studio organized with our fellow production staff workers because we broke that wall and we had our one on ones with people we used to see as management only to realize our fight was with upper management, not the people who are paid less helping to make cartoons with us.”
As part of the Young Workers Panel that followed, she expanded on the experience. “Since organizing, immediately we started seeing change,” she said with a smile. “We now feel empowered to take our working conditions into our own hands… It’s amazing.”
4. AFL-CIO Passes Progressive slate of Resolutions addressing key IATSE Priorities
Delegates of the Convention, representing the AFL-CIO’s State Feds and Affiliates (including IATSE) voted to pass a progressive slate of resolutions including, but not limited to:
- Encourage Union Audiovisual Production
- Recognizing and Protecting the Extraordinary work of Broadcast and Online Journalists
- Building Worker Power to Increase the Pace and Scale of Organizing
- Safe Jobs are Every Worker’s Fundamental Right
- Reignite and Implement an AFL-CIO Young Workers Program
- Winning Guaranteed Health Care for All
- The Time is Now for Fixing America’s Broken Labor Laws
5. The 2022 AFL-CIO Constitutional Convention was UNION MADE!
Speaking in support of SAG-AFTRA proposed resolutions, IATSE International President Matthew D. Loeb recognized the 200 IATSE members who made the convention possible. As the convention wrapped, newly elected AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler joined these IATSE Crewmembers in the above group photo.
The full list of involved Local Unions included IATSE Local 2, IATSE Local 8, IATSE Local 22, IATSE Local 720, IATSE Local 798, IBEW Local 26, IBEW Local 98, IBEW Local 1200, IBEW Local 1220, IUOE Local 99, IUPAD Local 2011, LIUNA Local 32, OPEIU Local 2, TNG-CWA Local 32035, UNITE HERE Philly Locals, IBT Local 107, PJB Local 525/Workers United SEIU, SEIU, and UBC Local 158.