Liz Shuler, New AFL-CIO President, Takes Helm Of Labor Federation At Pivotal Moment
The executive council of the AFL-CIO held a special meeting last week to name their next leader, following the death of the labor federation’s longtime president, Richard Trumka. For the first time in the organization’s history, they chose a woman. Liz Shuler, 51, had served as the federation’s second-in-command under Trumka since they were elected together in 2009. Despite the sad and unusual circumstances of the succession ― Trumka died on Aug. 5 of a heart attack, at age 72 ― Shuler said assuming the presidency marked a historic moment for women in the labor movement. “I am extremely humbled by it,” she said in an interview. “We are a movement of women. We are finally stepping into the leadership positions, and really bringing the voices and hopes and dreams of women in our movement into the decision-making roles.” Shuler takes the reins at a critical time. The AFL-CIO is not a union but a league of 56 of them, responsible for advancing the interests of member unions and the labor movement as a whole. With Joe Biden in the White House and Democrats holding threadbare control of Congress, unions have an invaluable but probably short window to accomplish big legislative goals, like passing an infrastructure package and landmark labor law reforms.