The AFL-CIO Executive Council elected Liz Shuler, the former secretary-treasurer and a longtime trade unionist, to serve as president of the federation of 56 unions and 12.5 million members. Shuler is the first woman to hold the office in the history of the labor federation. The Executive Council, of which OPEIU President Richard Lanigan is a member representing OPEIU, held the vote Aug. 20, following the death of Richard Trumka.
The Executive Council also elected United Steelworkers (USW) International Vice President Fred Redmond to succeed Shuler as secretary-treasurer, the first African American to hold the office. Tefere Gebre will continue as executive vice president, rounding out the most diverse team of officers ever to lead the AFL-CIO.
“I am humbled, honored and ready to guide this federation forward,” Shuler said after her election. “I believe in my bones the labor movement is the single greatest organized force for progress. This is a moment for us to lead societal transformations — to leverage our power to bring women and people of color from the margins to the center — at work, in our unions and in our economy, and to be the center of gravity for incubating new ideas that will unleash unprecedented union growth.”
"OPEIU congratulates Liz Shuler on her election" Lanigan said. "We are confident that working people throughout the country will make great strides under her leadership."
Shuler grew up in a union household and spent many years as an organizer and political representative with the IBEW. In 2004, she was promoted to assistant to the international president, helping drive the agenda of the nearly 1-million member union.
In 2009, she joined forces with Trumka, becoming the first woman elected to the position of secretary-treasurer at an AFL-CIO convention and the youngest woman ever on the federation’s Executive Council. As secretary-treasurer, she also served as the chief financial officer, turning deficits into surpluses and steering the federation through multiple fiscal crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to her stewardship of the federation’s finances, Shuler led the AFL-CIO’s initiatives on the future of work, retirement security, the clean energy economy, public safety reform, workforce development and empowering women and young workers. She is committed to busting myths about labor, leveraging the labor movement’s diversity for innovative approaches to social justice and making the benefits of a union voice on the job available to working people everywhere.
The terms of the three executive officers run through June 2022, when delegates to the AFL-CIO Convention in Philadelphia will elect leaders for new four-year terms.