History was made today (August 20) two blocks from the White House when the AFL-CIO Executive Council unanimously elected Elizabeth Shuler as President and Fred Redmond as Secretary-Treasurer.
Shuler will finish the term of the late Richard Trumka, who passed away during the night of August 4-5. Shuler becomes the first woman to head the labor federation.
MTD President Michael Sacco, as the most senior vice president on the council, conducted Shuler’s election.
“This is a very historic moment,” Sacco said after the meeting. “While we all miss Rich [Trumka], I know Liz is ready and prepared to step into this position. She is very strong and determined and is a very good leader. She, Fred and [AFL-CIO Executive Vice President] Tefere [Gebre] will be a good team.”
Shuler came from the MTD-affiliated International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) when she was elected the AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer at the 2009 convention. She is still a member of IBEW Local 125.
She grew up in a union household in Portland, OR, as her father was a member of Local 125 working with Portland General Electric and her mother was an estimator in that company’s service and design department. Sister Shuler was hired as an organizer for the local in 1993.
In that position, she organized and led a coalition of labor, community and environmental groups to successfully beat back an attempt by Enron to take over Portland General Electric. In 1998, then IBEW Secretary-Treasurer Ed Hill assigned her to victorious California campaign to defeat Proposition 226, the so-called paycheck protection scheme. Afterwards, she came to the nation’s capital to run the international’s grassroots operations as well as lobby Congress.
In 2004, Hill as president promoted her to assistant to the international president, where she was serving when she was elected to the second highest position within the AFL-CIO. She has led the federation’s efforts on the future of work, retirement and pension security, workforce development, public safety reform and clean energy economy. In addition, she brought the needs of women and young people in the Labor Movement to the forefront. She did all of this while being the AFL-CIO chief financial officer.
Redmond has been a member of the MTD-affiliated United Steelworkers (USW) since 1973 when he went to work at Reynolds Metals in Chicago, following in his father’s footsteps. He is the first African-American to hold the secretary-treasurer’s post.
He became active in his local, serving as shop steward, vice president and three terms as its president. For decades, Redmond served the USW in various staff and leadership roles, assisting local unions, developing and conducting training programs, and bargaining contracts.
As USW international vice president for human affairs, Brother Redmond oversaw the Civil and Human Rights Department, as well as the union’s shipbuilding, health care and public sector bargaining, and worked with USW allies across the country in response to attacks on voting rights and combating inequality.
Earlier this year, Redmond was elected president of the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas.
Shuler, Redmond and Gebre will serve into June 2022 when the next AFL-CIO Convention is held.