Executive Council Statement

Full Participation in the Labor Movement

Washington, D.C.

In keeping with the instructions of the 1993 AFL-CIO Convention, the AFL-CIO established a Full Participation Committee to examine ways in which the labor movement might achieve full participation and integration of its diverse membership into leadership positions at every level of organization.

The committee has examined the issues of increasing participation and inclusion of members throughout the labor movement, including the need for more active recruitment and training of leaders, the significance of greater visibility for minority, women and young members in union activities and as representatives of their organizations, the importance of recognizing and overcoming barriers to participation and the value of achieving change from the membership level up through the ranks with the support of sound policy and dedicated leadership.

Since its establishment, the committee has heard from affiliated national and international unions, organizations representing diverse groups of union members, state federation and central labor council officers and many individual union members through its series of meetings, surveys, discussions and regional workshops.

Consistently, these organizations and individuals have said that the labor movement as a whole--and their organizations individually--benefit from full participation. They recognize the importance of balancing the needs of democracy and diversity in all their activities.

While leaders stress the constant challenge of getting all members to participate, many recognize the importance of energetic action on their part to bring more members into the circle of activists and leaders. Members, too, the leaders said, have a responsibility to recognize that their unions belong to them and that they can come forward and take part in the effort to represent and serve the membership.

Full participation goals are best served, the committee found, when an organization works from clear policies and the commitment of officers to achieving these goals through performance. While change works from the membership up, action by officers and governing bodies is a catalyst that motivates and encourages change.

Organizations at all levels can reassess their governing bodies and structures and review such activities as committees, appointments to advisory boards, delegations to local, state and national conventions and determine how they can best reflect the composition of their organizations and of the labor movement at their own local, state or national levels.

Not only union members, but also unorganized workers, look at unions to see if their leadership, staff and structure reflects an atmosphere in which all members are visible and welcome to participate.

Organizations that represent diverse memberships in the labor movement can be invaluable in training and encouraging their members to prepare for leadership, representation, and governance roles.

The national AFL-CIO, national and international unions, state federations and central bodies can work cooperatively with these labor-supported organizations to assist them in their leadership training and development programs.

In the effort to achieve the goals of full participation and diversity, the national AFL-CIO will:

  • Amend the rules for state federations and local central bodies to provide for procedures for achieving diversity on executive bodies, in committees and at conventions;
  • Permit expansions in the sizes of elected or appointed state federation and local central body elected or appointed governing bodies;
  • Provide for an appropriate form of expanded participation in state federations and local central bodies for local chapters of the AFL-CIO-supported organizations representing diversified memberships.

The AFL-CIO, in cooperation with its affiliates, will assist state federations and local central bodies in developing specific programs to foster development of leadership from among historically under-represented groups of workers; to develop specific plans for inclusion of more women and minority members in educational programs; to provide for expansion of women and minorities in delegations and other representation activities.

The AFL-CIO will maintain and continue its affirmative action program for filling headquarters and field staff vacancies. The federation will expand recruitment programs to identify, hire and train qualified women and minorities for all positions, including expansion of training and promotional opportunities available to current staff.

The AFL-CIO will work with affiliates to create and maintain a resume referral service to provide information to affiliates on qualified women and minority workers for staff positions.

The AFL-CIO will work with affiliates beginning with the 1997 convention and all subsequent conventions, to see that credentialed delegates reflect the diversity of union members.

The AFL-CIO's executive officers and the Executive Council will undertake a review of all AFL-CIO standing and ad hoc committees and make appropriate appointments to assure diversity of representation.

The AFL-CIO's executive officers will direct the Organizing Institute to continue its emphasis on recruitment and training of women and minorities and to develop goals for entrants from those ranks.

Programs and curricula developed by the AFL-CIO Education Department and the George Meany Center for Labor Studies to emphasize leadership recruitment, development and training for women and minority members will continue to be available to affiliates and state and local central bodies.

The AFL-CIO will call on CLUW, LCLAA, APALA, CBTU, APRI and Frontlash to review and expand their leadership training and development programs for their members.

The AFL-CIO will work with its trade and industrial departments to encourage and implement reviews of their governing bodies, conventions, committees, staff and programs and activities to provide opportunities for full and diversified participation, and will encourage the departments to assist their local chapters in similar reviews and actions.