Immigration

What Does It Mean to Be 'American'? AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre Explains

One night at his UPS job, Tefere Gebre's co-worker handed him some union material.

“He told me that I’d get health care and vacation and other benefits by filling it out. I said, ‘Are you serious?’ I thought, ‘Hmm. Everyone should have that.’”

Tefere, now the executive vice president of the AFL-CIO (the third-highest ranking position at the federation representing America's working people), has been a proud union member for most of his life, valuing the freedom of people to come together in union.

This freedom is sacred to Tefere, considering what he had to live through to achieve it. And he won't let anyone, especially not Donald Trump, try to take that away from him.

Born in Gondar, Ethiopia, Tefere came to the United States in the 1980s as a young teenager having survived a brutal military regime that killed thousands of people, even children.

Watch the video above to hear Tefere's story and his perspective on what being an American is.

Explore the Issue