Shuler: Detroit Is Union Strong

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler delivered the following remarks by video for the Metro Detroit AFL-CIO Convention:

I’m Liz Shuler, president of the AFL-CIO. It’s good to be with you, even if it is by video.

Thank you so much to Daryl [Newman] and James [Dennis] and my fellow IBEW sister Jeanette [Bradshaw] for your leadership…and the entire Metro Detroit team for your hard work and dedication. The work you’ve done and continue to do has a ripple effect and affects so many lives.

Like at the Marysville ZF Plant where 350 new UAW members now have a union contract with better pay, benefits, retirement security, and more. 

And the baristas and cooks at Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company. These “Comrades in Coffee” are organizing with UNITE HERE Local 24 for fair pay, sick leave, anti-harassment protections and more! 

Metro Detroit…you are showing the power that comes when working people stand up, speak out and bargain together to shape our futures. 

Every organizing win…no matter how big or small…every contract ratification…strengthens our communities and our movement.

You are a force for progress in Detroit and beyond!

You are a force to counter the attacks on our voting and organizing rights…and to put an end to workplace discrimination and inequities for women and people of color.


We are in a critical moment.
What we do right now will determine if we keep pro-worker champions like Governor Whitmer in office. If we keep our pro-worker edge in Washington. If we keep our democracy.

It was truly amazing to see how so many of you sprang into action in 2020 when the election workers were counting ballots…you were there to keep them from the harassment and intimidation as we watched the folks who wanted to overturn the election try to undermine our democracy.
Hopefully we won’t need you to that again this November! 

But recent history tells us, these elections will come down to the wire.

And we will need to connect with voters in new and creative ways – our members, and your neighbors, your friends and family members. We’re going to need to do some deep listening and get back to conversations in the work sites. Will need to surface the issues that really matter to our members and build that relationship of trust and credibility, since we know they’re getting their information online and there’s so much in certain information out there. But we can break through that with one on one, face to face conversations, and that will make all the difference.

Just like you did with those one-on-one conversations you did on redistricting. I know the maps weren’t drawn the way they should have been, but that’s the kind of engagement we’re talking about now through November. 

And approaching it through an issue based lens. 

We also need to connect the dots on all the incredible investments that we’ve passed over the last year: 

The American Rescue Plan was a lifeline for millions of working families…and expanded the child tax credit, which cut childhood poverty in half! 
The historic infrastructure investment is another example…

Creating so many good, union jobs in Detroit and across the state to fix our roads and bridges…

  • to expand high-speed internet to rural communities… 
  • to replace lead pipes so Flint and so many of our underserved communities have safe drinking water… 

Investments in American-made electric vehicles…like the one at the Lake Orion plant to produce the electric Chevy Silverado...

Good, union jobs…for today, tomorrow and generations to come.

And we have the opportunity to build on this success through Build Back Better. 

We’re keeping up the pressure to realize the aspirations we’ve been fighting for — a future with accessible, high quality child care, paid leave, a path to citizenship, and labor laws that work for working people.

That is the power of our vote! 
We’re growing a bold, inclusive and dynamic labor movement. Nobody left behind… everyone included.

Our doors are wide open. Let’s make sure women, people of color and young people see that! 

The majority of young Americans are passionate about collective action. They’re hungry for change. It’s in their DNA. Let’s tap into that energy.
On the AFL-CIO TikTok account — you know, the app where Gen Z does those dancing videos? — we’ve got close to a million views on one 60-second video about injustices at Amazon.
The interest is there, but only eight percent of young workers know where to go to organize a union! 

Let’s engage with them and show them they have a home in the labor movement. 

Let’s show them and all working people that we are the most powerful force for progress…at work, in our unions, in our economy and in our democracy.

Let’s remind them that Detroit is a union city! And that our unions are Detroit strong!

Keep up the incredible work and have a great convention! Thank you!