Press Release

AFL-CIO President and AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer on Juneteenth


AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler and AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Fred Redmond released the following statement to commemorate Juneteenth:

Today, as communities around the country celebrate and reflect on the freedom of formerly enslaved Black people in Texas and the United States as a whole, the AFL-CIO reaffirms our commitment to racial justice and equity in the labor movement. We embrace Black power, resilience and joy, and we recommit ourselves to rooting out the scourge of systemic racism against our Black brothers, sisters and siblings in the workplace and in all corners of American life. 

We also reckon with how we’ve failed in that sacred struggle, as economic disparities for Black Americans persist, more than 150 years after the abolition of slavery. Today’s economy continues to exploit Black labor, promote wage disparity and block Black workers from good jobs. The gap in the homeownership rate between Black and white families is greater now than when housing discrimination was legal—and communities of color are more likely to live in places with polluted air and toxic water. Black students are more likely to borrow money to go to college and to get crushed with student loan debt. And after a lifetime of hard work filled with so many disparities, older Black Americans are less likely to have the savings needed to retire with dignity. It is our shared responsibility to combat these injustices—and to say forcefully that Black Lives Matter. 

Black workers are part of the DNA of America’s labor movement. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. believed that the Civil Rights Movement and the labor movement are intertwined, and collective bargaining remains one of the most powerful tools to ensure racial equity and fairness on the job. A union contract can make sure Black workers are included; workplaces are diverse and accessible; that there is equity in hiring practices, pay and advancement opportunities; and that all workers gain the skills needed for the jobs of today and of tomorrow. We won’t stop fighting until every worker in this country can access the right to collectively bargain for a better life.

We wish a joyful Juneteenth to all who are celebrating today, and we stand shoulder to shoulder with you in the fight for a more perfect union.

Contact: Riley Lopez, 202-637-5018