Highlights from Day One of the AFL-CIO Convention

AFL-CIO Convention
Kaveh Sardari, AFL-CIO

Today, more than 1,200 union delegates and convention attendees joined together in St. Louis for the first day of the AFL-CIO 2017 Convention. Here are some of the key moments from the AFL-CIO Convention in St. Louis.

The convention delegates unanimously re-elected Richard Trumka (Mine Workers) as president, Liz Shuler (Electrical Workers) as secretary-treasurer and Tefere Gebre (United Food and Commercial Workers) as executive vice president of the AFL-CIO. In addition, delegates elected 55 vice presidents who will serve as the Executive Council for a four-year term.

In his acceptance speech, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre said:

Sisters and brothers, these are tough times. 

For our country. For our movement. For our communities.

Between black and white. Between immigrant and native-born. But even in the face of these challenges, I have hope. 

Hope of a brighter day. Hope of a stronger tomorrow. Hope of an America with liberty and justice for all. Sisters and brothers, this is a job for the labor movement! 

We can bring our country together! 

I pledge to do my part. To lead with my heart. To never stop fighting.

In her acceptance speech, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler said:

How do we fight for good jobs when they are increasingly automated or distorted as the nation’s social compact is under relentless attack?

We have reached a tipping point—just focusing on protecting what we have is far more dangerous than taking risks.

When automation threatens millions of jobs in the not-too-distant future...we can’t afford to be cautious.

When millions of people use their power online to oust CEOs and advocate for change, we need to harness that activism and use it to build a massive movement of working people.

Together we can build the support, leadership and encouragement for more unions to get in the game, experiment and find new strategies for success.

And in his acceptance speech, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said:

I am proud to stand before you and tell you we’re going to go forward toward a better day for all working people.

Our opponents are tough. They’re well-heeled and ruthless. But their deep pockets can’t overcome our deep passion for a fairer and more just nation. I say, bring it on!

America is hungry for change. Change doesn’t just happen—we will make it happen the same way our predecessors stared down the barrel of a harsh economic and political reality—and even guns—to form the labor movement.

A new day. A better day. For you, and me. Our children and grandchildren.

We’ll join together. We’ll fight together. We’ll win together, brothers and sisters, because we do the work. This is our country, and it’s high time that we took it back!

During the convention, the delegates approved the following resolutions:

  • Resolution 7: Reviving Our Communities and Putting Millions to Work Rebuilding the Country: "The labor movement expects Congress to work with the administration to achieve the promises President Trump made in 2016 for a $1 trillion infrastructure plan. Yet we know that $1 trillion is not enough to fund existing needs, much less to invest in new infrastructure. The labor movement will fight for an infrastructure program that goes beyond this down payment and comprehensively invests in our nation’s future."

  • Resolution 10: Encouraging Union Members to Run for Public Office: "With an urgent need to expand these efforts, we hereby resolve to strengthen the independent political voice for labor in local government by identifying and recruiting new candidates for local office, ensuring the candidates we recruit and endorse reflect the diversity of our labor movement. These labor candidates will champion pro-labor values and campaign aggressively and in partnership with labor."

  • Resolution 16: Inclusion and Equity: Ensuring Equity and Inclusion Internally and Externally: "Politicians and corporations have used race and ethnicity, cultural differences and geography to divide us for decades. It is simple: If we are fighting each other, then we are not fighting together for better jobs, better schools, more affordable health care, good housing, strong communities and a more secure retirement for all. Eradicating bigotry is not just the moral thing to do—it is the only way we will win these things for all working families and leave a better future for our children."

  • Resolution 24: Fighting Together for Workers in Manufacturing: "To win these fights, raise wages and improve diversity in manufacturing, we must activate workers to fight for political demands and to organize. We must insist on inclusion and solidarity, and reject exclusion and racism. The alternative is continued decline and the growth of a political narrative on manufacturing that is contrary to our values and our interests."

  • Resolution 29: Resolution Supporting 100 Percent Buy American for Defense Procurement: "To fight for American jobs and American security, we will: vigorously support eliminating all loopholes to Buy American laws, and demand that all goods purchased for defense procurement are manufactured in the United States; strengthen and expand measures that apply to defense procurement and support our defense industrial base, including Buy American, the Defense Production Act, the Jones Act, the Specialty Metals Clause and the Berry Amendment; and support measures to rectify U.S. dependence on any foreign-sourced critical military supplies and systems, including government support for establishing U.S. production capacity."

  • Resolution 56: The Humanitarian Crisis in Puerto Rico and the Need for Immediate Federal Action: "Therefore, Be It Resolved, that the AFL-CIO Convention commends the heroic and courageous efforts of the AFL-CIO union members and volunteers who participated in the multi-union emergency relief mission; and Resolved, that the AFL-CIO expresses solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the Puerto Rico Federation of Labor and the Virgin Islands Central Labor Council in their efforts to rebuild and protect all their residents following the disaster."

Speaking at the AFL-CIO's Diversity and Inclusion Pre-Conference, Petee Talley said:

I am honored to present the report on the AFL-CIO's "All of Us or None of Us" Convention Pre-Conference held yesterday, where over 400 participants came to learn, share and be inspired.

Earlier this morning, faith leaders representing many denominations lifted up the universal teachings of love, tolerance and freedom.

There is no one in this room who doesn't know we are in a moment of crisis—not just in our movement, but in too many of our communities.

We can either retreat to our individual corners or we can come together to develop a road map that leads to an Economy that Works for All of Us.

In preparing for this year's pre-conference, [St. Louis] central labor council President Pat White and [Missouri] state federation President Mike Louis shared with us the relationships they've been cultivating with many of their community allies in Saint Louis.

They've been working together to build a better community where workers' rights are protected, where voters are free to participate in a fair democracy, and where every job is a good job.

The theme of this convention is perfectly timed. We are about joining together in union. We are about fighting together, and we are about WINNING together.  

Read more about today's convention:

We Are the American Labor Movement, and We Will Not Be Denied: "Brothers and sisters, St. Louis is a historical gateway to the American frontier, in many ways to the American Dream—many unionists trace their roots to St. Louis and the Show-Me State. It will be our entrance to a new vision of prosperity, not a cookie-cutter America dream of white picket fences, but a dream shaped by each of us, a dream in which no one gets left behind."

Democracy Is Not Just Nice, but Necessary: "At the AFL-CIO Convention’s Global Labor Symposium, the last panel of the day proved to be the most exciting. The topic was Unions at the Forefront of Democracy. After an inspiring introduction by Victor Baez, who leads the Trade Union Confederation of Americas, the entire symposium went outside to join a rally led by Missouri state Rep. Bruce Franks Jr. to support Black Lives Matter."

USA Hosts Community Fishing Day, Dedicates Willmore Park Piers: "Youth, veterans and seniors got to wet their lines at a fishing event at Willmore Park in St. Louis, Missouri, today, to celebrate the completion of two fishing piers restored by union volunteers. The event was hosted by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) in conjunction with the AFL-CIO 28th Constitutional Convention."

In Missouri, Together We Win: "We would like to welcome the AFL-CIO Convention to our beautiful city. A city built by the hands of the labor movement. The world-famous Gateway Arch was built with 100% union labor in the early 1960s. Busch Stadium, the home of the 11-time world champion St. Louis Cardinals, was built by union men and women. The convention center, where we bring union members from every corner of the United States, was built by our brothers and sisters. St. Louis was not only built by union hands, but was once the shoe capital of the world, with union-made shoes made at Brown Shoe Co. Our city also was home to McDonnell Douglas, where machinists sent men to space. Not to mention the birthplace of the Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Bricklayers (BAC). St. Louis is a union town, which makes it the perfect place to host this year’s AFL-CIO Convention."

Running for Office: Have You Ever Thought About It?: "I have spent the better part of the past decade asking elected leaders to vote the right way. Asking them to stand with us—as union workers, retirees, women, people of color and immigrants. I have done this by being in the streets, at rallies and protests, asking them to join us on the strike lines, and lobbying them in congressional offices, in our state legislature and in city halls."

Highlights from the AFL-CIO 2017 Diversity Pre-Conference and the Global Labor Symposium: "As part of its quadrennial convention, the AFL-CIO is bringing together working families and activists to discuss diversity and inclusion and a separate meeting to discuss global labor issues. Here are some key tweets from the 'All of Us or None of Us: Join, Fight and Win Together Pre-Conference' and 'Global Labor Symposium.'"

Using Government Procurement to Bring Good Jobs Back to the U.S.: "I am pleased to have the opportunity to share SMART's work on Jobs to Move America and to talk about how we have used public procurement—or government purchasing—to re-shore good American manufacturing jobs."

Brazil Undermines Labor Laws and Puts Women Workers at Great Risk: "Brazil's comprehensive labor laws have long provided a strong institutional framework for unions to defend workers' rights. Changes pushed through Congress this July by Brazil's un-elected president and a Congress compromised by corruption charges have greatly undermined the labor laws and will drastically change the legal context in which Brazil's unions work."

These videos showed the breadth and diversity of the labor movement and were shown during the plenary session. Here's what you missed: